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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Game 75: Pacers at Cavs

Amway Center
7 p.m. Wednesday
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT WILL HAPPEN?: The Cavs can't afford any slip-ups if the are make a serious run at running the table. They have seven games remaining in the season and might need them all.

They've beaten the Magic six times in a row, including the last two on the road.

Guard Kyrie Irving is expected back in the starting lineup for tonight's game. Obviously, he is their best player. However, the potential is there for him to muck up what the Cavs have accomplished in the last eight games.

Coach Mike Brown said Irving will start when he does come back. But for whom?

It's not cut-and-dry. On one hand, one has Dion Waiters, who averaged 22 points and 5.1 assists in the previous eight games. The other option would be to sit down Jarrett Jack, who has emerged into the team's floor general in Irving's absence.

Jack has averaged 15 points, 3.9 rebounds and 5.9 rebounds. My educated guess is that Jack will remain in the starting lineup, and Waiters will return to his sixth-man role.

Since Jack has been starting - at least in the last two weeks - he has helped move the ball and move bodies on offense.

Then, Waiters can come in and do his thing. 

On the night they are expected to get Irving back, they'll be playing without their best big in Anderson Varejao, who sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder. It's unfortunate that this guy just can't stay on the court.

I hear from people all the time, "Trade Andy." It's not as simple as that. It would be next to impossible to find a replacement for that kind of production and hustle.

But the fact remains he just can't stay healthy. He's averaging 8.6 points and a team-high 10 rebounds per game.

What that means is Spencer Hawes, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller must fill the void. They must attack the glass. The Cavs must also get some rebounding from their wing players to stay afloat.

This is a chance for Zeller to get some major minutes. He has played well in spurts this season. He's a quality player. Now's the time to show everyone that.

The Cavs signed Scotty Hopson for the rest of the season. Don't expect him to get any time.

Forward Anthony Bennett didn't make the trip due to personal reasons. I wouldn't expect Varejao to play in either of the two road games, either.

Swingman C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle) and shooting guard Carrick Felix (fractured patella) are also out, probably for the duration.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Philips Arena.

SF Luol Deng (6-9. 220) vs. Maurice Harkless (6-9, 220)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Kyle O'Quinn (6-10, 250)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Nikola Vucevic (7-0, 250)
SG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Arron Afflalo (6-5, 215)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Jameer Nelson (6-0, 190)
Cavs - F Anthony Bennett, G Carrick Felix
Magic - N/A
Bill Spooner, Derrick Collins, Scott Twardoski

Friday, March 28, 2014

Game 74: Cavs at Nets

Barclays Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: This one hurts. The Cavs can't afford many more losses. When they say their backs are against the wall, it certainly is.

They didn't approach this game with any urgency. They need all the wins they can get at this point. They are 3 1/2 games behind No. 8 Atlanta in the Eastern Conference playoff race. Only eight games remain in the season.

The Nets s snapped the Cavs' three-game winning streak. Brooklyn has won 12 in a row at home, one off their franchise record.

They've hung in the race despite playing without their two best bigs - Kevin Garnett (back spasms) and Brook Lopez (fractured right foot) - and valuable reserve forward Andrei Kirilenko.

Nets coach Jason Kidd has put an interesting lineup on the court. He's taken "going small" to a new extreme. He has four smalls on the court along with center Mason Plumlee. Having Tristan Thompson trying to guard Paul Pierce at the 3-point line was frightening to me coming into the game. He just doesn't like venturing out of the paint, and is not an effective defender in open space.

So, what happens. Thompson got lost on the defensive end and Pierce scored 17 of his game-high 22 points in the first quarter. If I can identify a potential problem area from my living room before the game, what are the Cavs' legion of coaches doing?

The Cavs had to leave it all out on the court. They've now lost their last five outings at the Barclays Center, including an 89-82 setback on Jan. 4.

I think it's possible that the Cavs catch the Hawks, who have lost five in a row. The team that might muck up the whole thing is the Knicks, currently 1 1/2 games ahead of the Cavs in the East.

The Cavs just have to keep winning and let the chips fall where they may.

Cavs guard Kyrie Irving (strained left biceps tendon) seems to be inching closer to a return to the court. There's still no time table for his return. 

A couple things jumped out at me in the game:

--The Nets outrebounded the Cavs, 41-35, which is a joke. They are one of the worst rebounding teams in the league (ranked 28th in the league). They had just 17 rebounds in a game this year.

--The Nets shot 54.9 percent from the field. The Cavs just didn't put up much resistance the entire night.

--The Nets outscored the Cavs from the 3-point line, 42-30.

--Brooklyn's bench dominated action and outscored the Cavs, 48-18.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Indiana at 3 p.m. Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Luol Deng (6-9. 220) vs. Joe Johnson (6-7, 240)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Paul Pierce (6-7, 235)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Mason Plumlee (6-11, 235)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 225) vs. Shaun Livingston (6-7, 182)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Deron Williams (6-3, 209)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, G Carrick Felix
Nets F/C Kevin Garnett, C Brook Lopez
Rodney Mott, Sean Corbin, Eric Dalen

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Game 73: Cavs at Pistons

The Palace of Auburn Hills
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Cavs probably have to win all nine of their remaining games - and maybe still get some help from some of the teams currently ahead of them - in order to sneak into the playoffs. If they go 8-1, it might be possible. 

They are 3 1/2 games behind No. 8 Atlanta in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

We'll probably know if it's still possible in the next two games, as the Cavs travel to Brooklyn on Friday and host Indiana Sunday afternoon. If they win those next two, it's time to get excited. Don't count out the Cavs, who have won three in a row.

They were given up for dead on Wednesday, especially when they fell behind by 16 points at the end of the third quarter, 82-66.

They got a few stops, and then a few more, and all of a sudden, they were taking the ball out with 3.2 seconds left and trailing by one point. Forward Luol Deng inbounded the ball to guard Dion Waiters. There were no shenanigans tonight with the inbounds play.

Waiters received the ball and deposited the game-winning, 19-foot jumper. It was a thing of beauty. When it went through the hoop, I yelled. I know I'm supposed to stay objective and control my emotions, but it was such a big-time shot.

The Pistons had won five of the last six outings against the Cavs before last night. The Cavs have won the last two in dramatic fashion.

The Cavs are making their run. They shot just 43.5 percent from the field against the Pistons and dished out just 18 assists on 37 field goals.

I'm not going to suggest their success is because All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving is out of the lineup. But I will say the ball is not sticking in one area as much as it did. Jarrett Jack is in the starting lineup to help move the ball. It doesn't hurt that he's averaged 20.3 points in his last three games, 16.7 in his last six.

Irving (strained left biceps tendon) seems to be inching closer to a return to the court. There's still no time table for his return. I think he's close to getting another medical evaluation, which will determine whether we see him again.

I'll maintain that he'll play again this year. I'm so far down that road now, I can't change.

Cavs center Anderson Varejao continues to amaze. He pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds against the Pistons' sometimes dominating frontcourt that includes center Andre Drummond and power forward Greg Monroe. Small forward Josh Smith has averaged 22.3 points against the Cavs this year.

I figured Smith and Cavs forward Luol Deng would cancel each other out. I was wrong. Deng has shot 3 of 23 against the Pistons in the last two games. Ouch. He finished with seven points, six rebounds and four assists.

Coach Mike Brown said Deng was very important in huddles and on the bench. Deng and Jack are both becoming real leaders on this team. And, it's about darn time someone stepped into that role.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Brooklyn at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Barclays Center.

SF Luol Deng (6-9. 220) vs. Josh Smith (6-9, 225)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Greg Monroe (6-11, 250)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Andre Drummond (6-11, 279)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 225) vs. Kyle Singler (6-8, 220)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Brandon Jennings (6-1, 169)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, G Carrick Felix
Pistons F/C Josh Harrellson, G Chauncey Billups
Bennett Salvatore, Tony Brown, Karl Lane

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Game 72: Raptors at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Cavs shredded one of the top defensive teams in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday to the tune of 102 points and 51.4 percent shooting. 

They've shot 50 percent or better in three consecutive games, as well as four of the last five. They are averaging 102 points in that five-game span.

Is it just a coincidence that All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has missed the last five games? I don't know what conclusion to draw from that, other than the ball is moving with Jarrett Jack and Dion Waiters. They combined for 12 of the Cavs' 27 assists on the night.

The Raptors have had the Cavs' number all season. That's why finally beating them was satisfying, even though they almost blew it at the end.

The Raptors had won three in a row over the Cavs, including both outings this season by a combined 13 points, They dropped to the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference, yet still sits atop the Atlantic Division.

There's a reason for the banner year. They have talent and depth. They also have a go-to talent in DeMar DeRozan. The All-Star has been defended by Luol Deng in the previous two games.

DeRozan had 33 points in the last matchup, a 99-93 setback for the Cavs on Feb. 25 at The Q. He was almost unstoppable in that game, especially in the pivotal fourth quarter.

He was held to 13 points last night on 5 of 16 attempts.

The Cavs are coming off an emotional six-point victory at New York. Guard Jarrett Jack, who played 92 games for the Raptors in 2009-10 and 2010-11, had his best game of the season with 31 points and 10 assists.

I wanted see how he followed up that monster game. His problem this season has been his consistency. He's never been able to string together three or four good games in a row. That and the fact that he's shooting 41 percent from the field.

He was productive with 13 points, five rebounds and five assists. Since Irving has been sidelined, Jack's numbers have spiked to 16.6 points, 4.2 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.

Coach Mike Brown must find a way to light a fire under center Spencer Hawes, whose play has been spotty the last few outings. He's not playing with the fire he displayed when he first came to the team.

He finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.

Watching guard Matthew Dellavedova as of late has been a joy. He's definitely making his move with the increased minutes he's been getting. In his previous three games, he's averaging 11.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists. He should be in the Cavs' plans as they move forward.

Coach Brown won his 300th game with the Cavs. He trails only Lenny Wilkens (316) and Bill Fitch (304) in franchise history.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Detroit at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

SF Luol Deng (6-9. 220) vs. Terrence Ross (6-6, 195)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Amir Johnson (6-9, 210)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Jonas Valanciunas (6-11, 231)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 225) vs. DeMar DeRozan (6-7, 216)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Kyle Lowry (6-0, 205)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, G Carrick Felix
Raptors F Patrick Patterson, G Dwight Buycks
Sean Wright, Mark Lindsay, Haywoode Workman

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Game 71: Cavs at Knicks

Madison Square Garden
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: I've got to applaud the Cavs for their come-from-behind win on Sunday. It was on the tail end of a back-to-back, on the road, no less.

They fell behind by 17 points to the Knicks. However, they came out in the second half and just dominated action. They outscored New York in the second half, 60-39.

That doesn't happen very often with the Cavs. They are the ones on the other end of that for the most part.

Veteran guard Jarrett Jack was sensational on Sunday. He had 23 of his season-high 31 points in the second half. He added five rebounds and 10 assists. He converted 13 of 19 from the field. 

Where has this guy been all season? My gosh he was good. 

His sidekick, Dion Waiters, added 22 points and five rebounds. The starting backcourt shot 22 of 36 from the field. Fantastic night.

The night started on a good note when starting small forward Luol Deng returned after missing the previous three games with a sprained left ankle. He ended with 13 points, four rebounds and two steals in almost 33 minutes.

It was nice having him back. He provided a calming effect on the rest of the club. It allowed Alonzo Gee to come off the bench, which he's best suited.

Deng was 3 of 4 from behind the arc, which was needed. The Cavs were 9 of 18 from the 3-point line. The Knicks were 12 of 27.

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony led all scorers with 32 points and eight rebounds. But he cooled off in the second half when he made just 2 of 10 from the field.

The Knicks snapped an eight-game winning streak. They had a chance of picking up a full game on the No. 8 Atlanta, which lost to Toronto. 

The Cavs broke a four-game losing streak. If they would have had all their players, they would have made a serious run at the playoffs. It's too little, too late for them in the playoffs this year.

Lame duck Knicks coach Mike Woodson finally settled on his jumbo lineup of Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Tyson Chandler as starters. It's difficult for other teams to deal with that much size, scoring ability and talent.

They don't have much coming off the bench, but it was the price they had to pay.

The Cavs also snapped a five-game losing streak in New York, which included a 117-86 thumping on Jan. 30 on national television. Tonight's game was nice revenge for that loss. The TNT crew that night depicted the Cavs as a disjointed team. Analyst Kenny Smith showed on the big screen the Cavs just letting the Knicks waltz in unmolested for dunks, layups, anything they wanted.

That wasn't the case on Sunday. They defended and just stopped the Knicks in their tracks.

I don't know what is going on with Cavs center Spencer Hawes, but he's been playing with little fire the last few games. Even in the Oklahoma City game when he had 20 points, many of them were late in garbage time. 

He's not hitting the boards at all. Maybe he needs to be called into the principal's office like Waiters was. Hawes had seven points and five rebounds against the Knicks.

Once again, Anderson Varejao is the Cavs' best big - by far - when he's able to stay on the court.

All of the Cavs' injured players, except guard Carrick Felix, flew to New York after the Houston game. Here's their current injury list: swingman C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle), swingman Sergey Karasev (strained patellar tendinitis), forward Anthony Bennett (strained left patellar tendon), guard Kyrie Irving (strained left biceps tendon) and Felix (left patella stress fracture).

Irving celebrated his 22nd birthday by wearing the ugliest shirt (sorry Ky) I've ever seen. Hopefully, he'll be back soon.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Toronto at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Carmelo Anthony (6-8, 235)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Amar'e Stoudemire (6-11, 245)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Tyson Chandler (7-1, 240)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 225) vs. J.R. Smith (6-6, 220)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Raymond Felton (6-1, 205)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, G Carrick Felix
Knicks - F/C Andrea Bargnani, F Kenyon Martin
Monty McCutchen, Dick Bavetta, David Jones

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Game 70: Rockets at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: Rockets center Dwight Howard was held out of tonight's game after having a cyst removed from his right ankle.

However, the Rockets didn't miss a beat with the highly capable Omer Asik waiting in the wings. The Cavs kicked the tires on acquiring Asik this season, but passed when looking at his contract for next year. It goes up to $18 million next year.

He's a quality big man, however, and gave the Cavs some problems in the low post.

The Rockets' most explosive player, of course, was guard James Harden. "The Beard" ripped the Cavs with 37 points, 11 assists and four steals.

He checked into the game averaging 24.6 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists. Wow. Now that's production out of your shooting guard. One can see why he's an All-Star.

Cavs shooting guard Dion Waiters had 26 points and eight assists, but was totally outplayed by the Rockets' All-Star.

Since Kyrie Irving was sidelined three games ago, Waiters has averaged 24.3 points.

We knew he was capable of that kind of production. He's capable of doing a lot more that just score, though, such as rebounding and playmaking. That's what's needed from him on a nightly basis.

Most observers think we've seen the last of Irving (strained left biceps tendon). I'm still sticking with the premise that he'll play again this season. I don't think he'll want that hanging over his head in the long offseason. If you remember last year, he came back late in the season after an injury.

In the previous meeting with the Rockets, a 106-92 setback on Feb. 1, point guard Patrick Beverley caused all kinds of problems with his defense, hustle and toughness. Basically, he got in Irving's jock. That's a little crude, but you know what I'm talking about.

He might hound Waiters tonight, even though the latter is much stronger and bigger.

The first game marked Jarrett Jack's first start with the Cavs. He's been in the starting lineup ever since. Coach Mike Brown likes the way he gets the ball moving on offense.

The Cavs played without half their team again: forward Luol Deng (sprained left ankle), swingman C.J. Miles (sprained left ankle), swingman Sergey Karasev (strained patellar tendinitis), forward Anthony Bennett (strained left patellar tendon), guard Carrick Felix (left patella stress fracture) and Irving.

The Cavs signed guard Seth Curry to a 10-day contract on Friday. He played 9 minutes and hit a 3-pointer. He was a former Duke teammate of Irving's.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to New York at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Madison Square Garden.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Chandler Parsons (6-9, 227)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Terrence Jones (6-9, 252)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Omer Asik (7-0, 256)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 225) vs. James Harden (6-5, 220)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Patrick Beverley (6-1, 185)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, G Carrick Felix
Rockets C Dwight Howard, F Greg Smith
Bill Kennedy, Orlandis Poole, Josh Tiven

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Game 69: Thunder at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Cavs have obviously fallen out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, but they are still competing.

They are playing without two of their top three scorers in Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng. Well, they do have Shane Edwards, who scored his first NBA field goals on Thursday. That's good because many expect him to be sent on his way on Friday.

Fans are going to get a long look at Dion Waiters as their lead guard. He matched his season high with 30 points on Thursday. He made 11 of 25 shots. Every game, he's good for five really bad shots, and five dazzling shots.

He's a very talented player, especially on offense. In many ways, he's still learning the nuances of the game: When to pass, when to drive, when to shoot. 

One of the things that went wrong with this season has been in the inability of the Cavs to figure out how to play Waiters and Irving together. Jarrett Jack was signed to be the third guard. He's been forced to start and play major minutes.

He was called into Coach Mike Brown's office after the game. He probably wasn't called in there for Brown to tell him how well he played.

Then, after the game, unsolicited, Waiters said he has to improve his focus rebounding the ball. He had just two rebounds on the night. The Cavs were destroyed on the boards, 53-36.

If Brown wanted to get on someone's case about lack of rebounding, perhaps he could have said a few words to 7-1 center Spencer Hawes. He had just three rebounds on the night, zero in the first half.

Poor Alonzo Gee. He's been moved into the starting lineup because of the sprained ankle to Deng. Deng, swingman C.J. Miles and Sergey Karasev were sidelined for Thursday's game. I watched Deng try to move around after practice on Tuesday, and it wasn't pretty. He has no lateral movement right now.

So, Gee will go from guarding LeBron James to defending the league's top scorer in Kevin Durant. Durant doesn't do as many things as James does, but he's a pure shooter. He's 6-9 and extremely long. His shot is almost impossible to block.

Gee tried to make him work. Durant finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds. He's a remarkable player.

He came into the game averaging 31.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.35 steals. He's shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from behind the arc.

Those numbers could earn him the MVP award at the end of the season. James has won each of the last two awards.

Miles tried to play against the Heat and left the game after two minutes. They'll likely sit him down for a couple games after his setback.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Houston at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Kevin Durant (6-9, 240)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Serge Ibaka (6-10, 245)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Steven Adams (7-0, 255)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 225) vs. Andre Roberson (6-7, 210)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Reggie Jackson (6-3, 208)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, G Carrick Felix
Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha, C Kendrick Perkins
Jason Phillips, Brian Forte, Ben Taylor

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Game 68: Heat at Cavs

MIAMI HEAT (46-19) 100, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (26-42) 96
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: This will mark the first extended stint this season without point guard Kyrie Irving. He will miss at least the next two weeks with a strained tendon in his left biceps. Many are predicting we won't see him again this season.

Dion Waiters moved into the starting lineup at shooting guard. He was quite good with his first career double-double with 17 points and a career-high 11 assists.

The thing I'll remember, though, was his drive to the basket with 28.9 seconds remaining. The stat sheet credited LeBron James with a block on the play. When I first saw the play, I didn't think much of it.

However, after seeing the replay, Waiters was fouled not once, but by James and power forward Udonis Haslem. Even Cavs majority owner Dan Gilbert tweeted about the non-call, and could hear from the commissioner's office for his comments.

It didn't cost the Cavs the game. They were down by five at the time, 95-90. Still, it was a foul. I don't harp very often much about the refs, but this one was terrible.

James had three blocks on the night. Oh, and he had 43 points, too. He was absolutely on fire in the first quarter. He missed a 3 in the first, or he would have been 11 of 11 from the field in the opening quarter.

After his 25-point first quarter, he had 18 thereafter. I know this sounds crazy, but I thought Alonzo Gee did a decent job on defense in the game. James is not the most dominant player in the NBA for nothing.

The Cavs were playing with their top two scorers in Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng. That's about 35 points of offense right there. I don't know if Deng will play on Thursday vs. Oklahoma City.

This is one of the toughest portions of the Cavs' schedule. Two-time defending NBA champion Miami is the start of a three-game homestand. The Thunder and Houston follow. The three teams have a combined record of 140-59 (.703). The Cavs won't be favored to win any of these games.

The Cavs have lost 10 in a row to the Heat. Forward LeBron James has lost just once to the Cavs since he left in free agency. That came on March 29, 2011.

The Heat finished 3-0 against the Cavs this season. That could hurt the Cavs when the tie-breakers are announced for the playoffs (just kidding). Of course, there will be no postseason this year for the Cavs.

Without their closer (Irving), it's going to be difficult for the Cavs to win down the stretch in games. Waiters will score - that's what he does - but the thing to keep your eye on is whether the ball moves to the open man. He was good on Tuesday finding the open man.

The Cavs welcomed back swingman C.J. Miles on Tuesday. He missed the previous 12 games with a sprained left ankle. However, he lasted all of 1:21 in the game and came out.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Oklahoma City at 7 p.m. Thursday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. LeBron James (6-8, 250)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Chris Bosh (6-11, 235)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Greg Oden (7-0, 273)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 225) vs. Toney Douglas (6-2, 185)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Mario Chalmers (6-2, 190)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, G Carrick Felix
Heat - G Dwyane Wade, C Justin Hamilton
Tom Washington, Eric Dalen, Zach Zarba

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Game 67: Cavs at Clippers

Staples Center
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Clippers have now ripped off 11 consecutive wins, which ties the NBA high this season.

They haven't lost since Feb. 21 at Memphis.

With that being said, they were ripe for the picking on Sunday. The Cavs started the fourth quarter on a 10-0 run. They narrowed their deficit to seven points. Then their offense stalled. They couldn't make a shot - and they had some good ones.

Still, they finished the West Coast trip with a 2-1 record. That's good in anyone's book. But the Cavs are running out of time. They are 4 1/2 games behind No. 8 Atlanta in the Eastern Conference playoff race with 15 to play.

Cavs All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving was knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a biceps injury. He finished with two points - almost 20 fewer than his season average. The Cavs don't have the kind of depth to overcome the loss of Irving.

He'll be examined at the Cleveland Clinic when the Cavs get home on Monday. Don't be surprised if he misses some time, which would be a death blow to this team's playoff chances.

Point guard Chris Paul is the engineer of the Clippers' offense. He was fantastic on Sunday with 16 points, 15 assists and two steals. He dictated the tempo of the game with Irving in the locker room.

He didn't have a turnover in 36 minutes. He leads the league with 10.9 assists per game, along with his 4.53 assist-to-turnover ratio. Take my word for it: That's impressive.

Then, we can't forget about power forward Blake Griffin, who turned 25 on Sunday. This guy is quickly turning into the league's premiere power forward. He's improved his perimeter shooting. He was already the top dunker. He had 21 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists.

With this much talent on one team, it's easy to forget center DeAndre Jordan. That's where teams get in trouble. He leads the NBA in field-goal percentage at 66.3 percent. I guarantee you, some players couldn't shoot that well if they were in a gym by themselves.
He shoots that well because all of his attempts are either dunks or layups. He made 7 of 8 shots on Sunday.

He's also first in the league in rebounds per game at 13.9. 

Coupled with Griffin's 9.7 (13th in the NBA), you can see their rebounding strength.

Jordan ended with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

The Cavs' big men need to show up for this contest. It starts with power forward Tristan Thompson, who was non-existent in the Warriors game. He needs to make Griffin work. Unfortunately, Thompson was suffering from food poisoning before the game and finished with just two points and one rebounds in almost 20 minutes.

The Clippers cross switched on defense and had Griffin defend Cavs center Spencer Hawes, who had been making a living at the 3-point line. Thompson is more of a stay-at-home big, which would more suit Jordan's game.

Hawes ended with 14 points and five rebounds before being ejected with 1:19 left in the game. He picked up two technical fouls, which will cost him $2,000 apiece.

Forward Luol Deng paced the Cavs with 23 points and six rebounds. He turned his left ankle in the first half, but stayed in the game. It could be sore on Monday.

The Clippers also have strength in numbers. They bring Danny Granger, Glen Davis and normally Jamal Crawford off the bench. Crawford was sidelined with a strained left calf.

The Cavs didn't get swingman C.J. Miles back in the lineup. He's missed the last 12 games with a sprained left ankle. His outside shooting has been missed.

The Cavs nipped the Clippers on Dec. 7 at The Q, 88-82. The Clippers' point total was a season low for a Cavs' opponent this season.

They are 17-6 against the Clippers since the 2002-03 season. They had also won five of the last six meetings against the Clippers at Staples Center.

In the first two games of the three-game road trip, the Cavs had outscoring their opponents, 106.5-97.5, while shooting a combined 47.8 percent from the 3-point line (22 of 46).

The real improvement has come on the defensive end. Since Feb. 8, the Cavs are holding teams to the third-lowest field-goal percentage in the NBA (43.3 percent), as well as the sixth-lowest points per game (97.7).

They are getting after it on the defensive end, which should make Coach Mike Brown happy.

The Cavs had won six of the last eight games vs. the Western Conference (before Sunday). On the season, they are 12-16 against the West.

They are 11-24 on the road this season.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Miami at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Luol Deng (6-9, 220) vs. Matt Barnes (6-7, 226)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Blake Griffin (6-10, 251)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. DeAndre Jordan (6-11, 265)
SG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Willie Green (6-2, 185)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Chris Paul (6-0, 185)
Cavs - G/F Sergey Karasev, G Carrick Felix, C.J. Miles
Clippers G J.J. Redick
Bennett Salvatore, JT Orr, Scott Wall

Friday, March 14, 2014

Game 66: Cavs at Warriors

Oracle Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: Just when you count out this team, they fight back. They moved to 2-0 on this West Coast trip with this stunning victory.

They face the hottest team in the NBA on Sunday in Los Angeles when they take on the Clippers. They have won 10 in a row.

But the Cavs shouldn't be overlooked. They have won six of the last eight games vs. the Western Conference. On the season, they are 12-15.

The Warriors jumped out to a 20-4 lead before many of the fans in Oracle Arena had settled into their seats. 

Point guard Kyrie Irving didn't score in the first quarter. Still, he finished with 16 points, four assists and four steals. He hit some huge 3-pointers in the game, dagger shots.

He was outplayed by fellow All-Star Stephen Curry, who ended with a game-high 27 points and eight assists. 

Cavs center Spencer Hawes was outstanding with 22 points and 13 rebounds. After moving to 12th in the NBA in 3-point shooting heading into the game, he made just 1 of 7 from behind the arc.

When the Cavs made the trade for Hawes on Feb. 20, Acting General Manager David Griffin said it will be obvious if the team has to re-sign any of its free agents. Well, it's obvious that the Cavs need to re-sign the 7-1 center.

The Cavs moved into a tie with New York for the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference with the win. They are 3 1/2 games behind No. 8 Atlanta with 16 to play. With the way they are playing - and defending - it would be a shame if they don't get in the playoffs.

But time is running out. They need to beat the Clippers, and then return home and do some damage against some of the league's best teams.

The Warriors played without shooting guard Klay Thompson, who missed the game to attend a funeral. If Curry isn't the top shooter in the league, Thompson is. 

Golden State is sixth in the Western Conference playoff race. They have so many weapons on offense. The Warriors shot 46 percent from the field. They won the battle of the boards, 42-41.

But the Cavs competed on the defensive end. They outscored the Warriors, 52-41, in the second half.

They also got a big lift from the bench, especially Dion Waiters, who had 18 points and four assists. 

The Cavs snapped a six-game losing streak to the Warriors. Golden State stopped the Cavs in overtime at The Q on Dec. 29, 108-104.

They improved to 11-23 on the road this season.

UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to the Los Angeles Clippers at 9:30 p.m. Sunday at Staples Center.

SF Luol Deng (6-9, 220) vs. Andre Iguodala (6-6, 207)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. David Lee (6-9, 240)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Andrew Bogut (7-0, 260)
SG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Harrison Barnes (6-8, 210)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Stephen Curry (6-3, 185)
Cavs - G/F Sergey Karasev, G Carrick Felix, G/F C.J. Miles
Warriors C Festus Ezeli, C Ognjen Kuzmic, G Nemanja Nedovic
Jason Phillips, Violet Palmer, Leon Wood