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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Game 32: Bucks at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. Happy New Year. 

2. Cavs forward LeBron James was held out of tonight's game. It's the third game this season he's missed with left knee soreness. I had the feeling he's going to be held out of the Charlotte game on Friday, too. That's never a good thing to see James on the inactive list. It probably doesn't do much for the Cavs' TV ratings, either. "Oh, LeBron's not playing?" Click.

3. With James and power forward Kevin Love (back spasms) sidelined, that puts too much pressure on Kyrie Irving. He fired in a team-high 25 points, but shot 9 of 23 from the field, 1 of 7 from the 3-point line. Irving has averaged 30 points in the last two games that James hasn't played. His right arm might be a bit sore. He's attempted 50 shots in the last two nights.

4. Irving has scored 25 or more points in each of his last four games. In that span, he's averaging 28.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.5 steals.

5. Center Tristan Thompson recorded his third consecutive double-double and eighth of the season after finishing with 10 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and a block. Since being inserted into the starting lineup, he's averaging 13.8 points and 12.5 rebounds.

6. It's difficult to fault the way the Cavs have played the last two nights, even though they've lost the two games by a combined 24 points. They competed. They scrapped. They are just not going to win games with guys like A.J. Price, Lou Amundson and Alex Kirk running around.

7. Unlike the Bucks, who are playing way over their heads, the Cavs are bumbling along. They will soon be a .500 team unless things change. They have games against Dallas and Houston coming up, embark on a rugged five-game West Coast trip, and then return home to host Chicago. On second thought, they could fall under .500.

UP NEXT: at Charlotte, Time Warner Cable Arena, 7 p.m., Friday

SF Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Giannis Antetokounmpo (6-11, 217)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-10, 238) vs. Johnny O'Bryant (6-9, 265)
C Brendan Haywood (7-0, 263) vs. Zaza Pachulia (6-11, 270)
SG Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Khris Middleton (6-7, 225)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Brandon Knight (6-3, 189)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, F LeBron James
Bucks - F Damien Inglis, F Jabari Parker
Joe Crawford, Brent Barnaky, Eli Roe

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Game 31: Cavs at Hawks

Philips Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. Everything changed before the game when the Cavaliers announced that forward LeBron James wouldn't play because of persistent pain behind the left knee. There's no word yet on whether he'll play against Milwaukee on Wednesday.

2. The Cavs certainly didn't fold, however, without their floor leader. They played with intensity and spunk, something that was missing in the Detroit game last Sunday. They've got to play this way every night.

3. The Cavs have now lost two in a row, as well as three of the last four. This group is just five games above .500. This has to be the most under performing team in the league. Milwaukee is biting at their heels in the Central Division. Don't be surprised if they catch them. The Bucks invade The Q on Wednesday in a New Year's Eve game.

4. Guard Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 35 points. The All-Star point guard missed the previous two games with a bone bruise in his left knee. It's something that everyone should keep their eye on. He originally injured it in the Oklahoma City game two weeks ago, but continued to play on it. He played his heart out against the Hawks. He dished out nine assists, but turned the ball over eight times.

5. The Cavs lost power forward Kevin Love in the second half with back spasms. He was having a horrible game when he left. He made 1 of 8 from the field. He finished with seven points and seven rebounds. He's getting half his shots blocked at this point and has absolutely no lift on his shots. When I saw him play in Minnesota, he used to have a deadly jump hook in the lane. I have no idea where that shot has gone.

6. I really don't want to pick on Matthew Dellavedova, but he's playing terrible basketball right now. He can't shoot and just isn't making an impact. Part of it has been that he's been in the starting lineup, where he doesn't belong. He's not a starting-quality guard in this league. His field-goal percentage has dipped to 30.7 percent.

7. The Hawks have won four in a row over the Cavs at Philips Arena. Atlanta has climbed to within one game behind Toronto as the top seed in the Eastern Conference. It's not by accident. They are well-coached, play hard, defend and have balanced scoring.

8. Gosh, I loved the minutes the Cavs got from veteran James Jones. He ended with nine points, three rebounds, two assists, three steals and two blocks. Play the guy!

9. Speaking of a player that needs regular minutes, it's rookie shooting guard Joe Harris. He finished with a career-high 13 points against the Hawks. It's not like any of the guys ahead of him in the rotation are any better.  

10. The Hawks played without starting center Al Horford, who was sick.  UP NEXT: vs. Milwaukee, Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m. Wednesday

SF Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. DeMarre Carroll (6-8, 212)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Paul Millsap (6-8, 246)
C Tristan Thompson (6-10, 238) vs. Pero Antic (6-11, 250)
SG Matthew Dellavedova (6-4, 200) vs. Kyle Korver (6-7, 212)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Jeff Teague (6-2, 186)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, F LeBron James
Hawks - F Adreian Payne, G John Jenkins
Sean Corbin, Derrick Collins, Karl Lane

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Game 30: Pistons at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. This team needs something drastic to happen. A major trade. A good waiver claim. Something. Right now, it's playing like it doesn't give a darn about anything. If the Cavs keep playing like they are right now, they are going to cost Coach David Blatt his job.

2. This one was downright embarrassing. The Pistons came into the game one of the worst teams in the NBA. So what happened? They spanked the Cavaliers. Remember this team is fragile. Whenever it faces any kind of adversity, it shatters. That's not a good trait.

3. They really missed point guard Kyrie Irving, who is suffering from a left knee contusion. Without him, they have no consistent scoring. Their six guards were a combined 5 of 27 shooting on Sunday. Even Dion Waiters, who had been on a hot streak, was 3 of 8 for six points. A.J. Price was 0 of 6 from the field. It wasn't pretty.

4. The more I see of Matthew Dellavedova, the more I realize he has some major holes in his game. When he's playing 15-20 minutes off the bench, his deficiencies aren't as glaring. He just can't shoot with any consistency. Does he wonder why he gets so many open looks? Opposing teams want him to shoot.

5. The Cavs had a three-game winning streak against Detroit snapped. If one didn't know anything about the NBA and tuned into Sunday's game, one would think that it was the Pistons that were supposed to be a title contender and not the Cavs.

6. The Cavs suffered their first loss in four tries against the Central Division this season. They are also 11-3 against the Eastern Conference.

7. Cavs forward LeBron James became the 32nd player in NBA history to record 6,000 assists for his career in the Magic game. 

8. This was the third time this season the Cavs have had three players grab 10 or more rebounds in a game (vs. Indiana on Nov. 29 and at Brooklyn Dec. 8 were the others).

UP NEXT: at Atlanta, Philips Arena, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Kyle Singler (6-8, 228)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Greg Monroe (6-11, 250)
C Tristan Thompson (6-10, 238) vs. Andre Drummond (6-11, 279)
SG Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (6-5, 205)
PG Matthew Dellavedova (6-4, 200) vs. Brandon Jennings (6-1, 169)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G Kyrie Irving
Pistons - F Anthony Tolliver
Bill Spooner, David Guthrie, C.J. Washington

Friday, December 26, 2014

Game 29: Cavs at Magic

Amway Center
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. The Cavaliers have now won nine in a row over the Magic, including their last four in Orlando. This was the second of three meetings with them this year. They've beaten Orlando by an average of 20.5 points in the two wins.

2. Orlando forward Tobias Harris was held out of the first meeting in November. Harris came into the game averaging 18.6 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.00 steals.  He gave LeBron James a run for his money. They both earned technical fouls in the third quarter after Harris elbowed James in the chin. They yelled at each other for a few seconds. Harris is a developing into a major talent. He really took it to James for much of the night.

3. Coach David Blatt went back to a conventional lineup with an actual center and power forward. He started Tristan Thompson at center, next to Kevin Love. He's obviously not impressed with any of other bigs on the roster - Lou Amundson, Brendan Haywood or Alex Kirk. None of them got off the bench on Friday. Blatt's plan to go small in the Miami game blew up in his face. That strategy might work if the Cavs had more athleticism on the roster. He went small with a bunch of old 6-8 guys, and the Heat took advantage of them.

4. It looked like the Cavs' defense was going to cost them another game, especially after the Magic shot 72.2 percent from the field int the first quarter. One could make a case that the team's defense is getting worse. They did rally in the second half against Orlando.

5. Guard Dion Waiters continues to play inspired basketball with 17 points and three steals. He's actually defending at a high level.

6. Tristan Thompson had 13 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass. The Magic had just five offensive boards as a team. Say what you want about this guy, but he plays his butt off.

UP NEXT: vs. Detroit, Quicken Loans Arena, 4:30 p.m. Sunday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Tobias Harris (6-9, 235)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Kyle O'Quinn (6-10, 250)
C Tristan Thompson (6-10, 238) vs. Nikola Vucevic (7-0, 260)
SG Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Victor Oladipo (6-4, 210)
PG Matthew Dellavedova (6-4, 200) vs. Elfrid Payton (6-4, 185)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G Kyrie Irving
Magic - F Aaron Gordon, G Devyn Marble
Mike Callahan, Gediminas Petraitis, Leroy Richardson

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Game 28: Cavs at Heat

MIAMI HEAT (14-16) 101, CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (17-11) 91
AmericanAirlines Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7

1. Merry Christmas, everyone.

2. This marked Cavs forward LeBron James' first game in South Beach since he announced to the world on July 11, 2014, he was rejoining the Cavs. He received some boos and cheers when he was announced. He spent most of the day smiling, greeting old friends, joking with fans, hugging ex-teammates and talking to D-Wade. There was no urgency. No killer instinct. He just wanted to be everyone's BFF.

3. The 2014-15 season has been one of constant adjustments for the Cavs. On Christmas, they played their their first game without starting center Anderson Varejao, who tore his Achilles' tendon. He will be sidelined for the rest of the season and will undergo surgery soon. Just about everyone I talked to said the same thing. "It was only a matter of time." You knew he was going down at some point. It happens every year.

4. Cavs coach David Blatt pulled a fast one with the starting lineup and started Kevin Love at center. He's not much of a defensive presence at power forward, much less center. I figured he's start Tristan Thompson at center and begin with a more conventional lineup. Blatt tried to outsmart everyone, which left the Cavs at a major disadvantage all night. They have some big men at the end of the roster. You'll never know if they can play until you run them out there. The Heat were playing without their starting center in Chris Bosh, yet they kicked the Cavs butts on the boards, 44-37. Love never got in any kind of rhythm - again - and finished with 14 points and five rebounds. Heat center Chris Andersen made more of an impact with 12 points, eight rebounds and one block.

5. The Cavs' 3-point accuracy and foul shooting were abysmal against the Heat. They were 6 of 26 from the 3-point line (23 percent), and 21 of 33 from the foul line (64 percent). James was horrible at the foul line and made 10 of 18.

6. Love, by the way, just can't make a 3-point basket. In his last four games, he's 1 of 10 (10 percent). He missed all four of his attempts Thursday. In his last six games, he's 3 of 16 (18.8 percent). That's such a major part of his game, one reason the Cavs wanted him. The other was his rebounding, and that wasn't anything special, either. LeBron James yelled at him one time to box out.

7. Veteran center Brendan Haywood must be ready for the glue factory or totally out of shape. Those are the only reasons I can figure why Blatt refuses to play him. Granted, he doesn't move around very well. He certainly doesn't run the floor like a gazelle. But he's long. Man, is he long. He will block shots and alter a few along the way. It's going to be tough getting him in shape, but I believe it's Blatt's best option. Blatt didn't play Haywood, Lou Amundson or Alex Kirk against the Heat.

8. The Cavs have lost 11 consecutive games to the Heat, including their last eight on the road. They haven't defeated the Heat since March 29, 2011. They haven't won in Miami since Jan. 25, 2010. 

9. Bosh missed his seventh consecutive game Thursday with a strained calf muscle. He's an All-Star caliber big man. That's a major setback for the Heat, but at least he's close to coming back. That's not the case with Varejao.

10. Heat guard Dwyane Wade and forward Luol Deng combined for 56 points against the Cavs. Deng spent 40 games on the Cavs roster last year after being traded from Chicago. He didn't enjoy his time with the Cavs and couldn't wait to get out of town. Good riddance, Luol. He should be commended, though, for his outstanding game against the Cavs. He defended James on one end. Offensively, he had 25 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

11. If Cavs guard Dion Waiters continues to play like he has, he might barge his way back into the starting lineup. He had eight points, six rebounds, three blocks and two steals. He also stopped Wade in his tracks in the second half, holding him to 2 of 12 shots and seven points. Of course, Wade did major damage in the first half with 24 points.

12. The Heat is only 6-10 at home this season.

UP NEXT: vs. Detroit, Quicken Loans Arena, 4:30 p.m. Sunday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Luol Deng (6-8, 220)
PF Shawn Marion (6-8, 228) vs. Shawne Williams (6-10, 230)
C Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Chris Andersen (6-10, 245)
SG Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Dwyane Wade (6-4, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Mario Chalmers (6-2, 190)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G A.J. Price
Heat - F/C Chris Bosh, F Josh McRoberts
Monty McCutchen, John Goble, Kevin Scott

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

LeBron James Jr. video

Game 27: Timberwolves at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio, NBA TV

1. With Anderson Varejao, always expect the worst when he's injured. It sounds as if his injury is serious - very serious - as in long term. We'll hoping to hear soon the exact injury.

2. This is merely the next game on the schedule. Cavs power forward Kevin Love said he didn't feel anything special about playing the T-Wolves. He played the first six years of his career in Minnesota before being traded to the Cavs on Aug. 23. He had some great statistical seasons with the Timberwolves, but always wanted more. He finally asked out of Minny and landed on one of the top teams in the East.

3. If I had to guess right now, I'd say Love won't be a member of the Eastern Conference All-Star team when it's announced. That could change between now and February. The Cavs haven't played well enough for them to have three All-Stars. I truly believe LeBron James and Kyrie Irving will be starters for the East. Secondly, Love just haven't played at an All-Star level. His shooting has been off all season. His interior defense remains a major problem. Oppposing bigs score at ease in the post on him. That's got to change. 

4. Of course, the Cavs' defense is inferior. Keep your eye on this one. If it doesn't improve, the Cavs won't be going anywhere in the postseason. You might not want to hear that, but experts that know way more than me - such as Hall of Famer Hubie Brown - are saying the same thing. He does think they'll get better in that area as the season progresses.

5. I love how James just anointed himself the point guard, and said he didn't even have to discuss the move with Coach David Blatt. About two or three weeks ago, James said there was going to be a major change. Irving is still the starting point guard, but James handles the ball in key situations and at the end of games. 

6. Cavs shooting guard Mike Miller has played 24 minutes in the last two games. He's attempted and missed two shots - one in each game. He tweaked his ankle in the Brooklyn game Dec. 19 on the night he drained seven 3-pointers. He hasn't been right since. Blatt started him out on T-Wolves guard Andrew Wiggins - a mismatch in the worst way. Miller picked up three personal fouls in the first four minutes and went to the bench. Fans didn't see much more of him. The problem is, he can't guard Wiggins even if his ankle is 100 percent. It's unfair to even ask him to.

7. The Cavs have won nine of their last 10 games at The Q. The Cavs are 8-0 when shooting 50 percent or better from the field. They are 13-1 when outshooting their opponent from the field.

8. Minnesota is missing three key performers in Kevin Martin, Nikola Pevovic and Ricky Rubio. That tore the heart out of the team. Point guard Mo Williams had also been injured, but he returned recently in the loss to Indiana. He played very good minutes for the T-Wolves last night.

9. Wiggins was sensational on Tuesday with 27 points, two shy of his career high. I'll say it again, I would have loved to watch his development next to LeBron James. The same can't be said of Anthony Bennett, who was scoreless in 12 minutes and committed five fouls and two turnovers. "I wish I could have done a lot more," Bennett said. "But with the way things rolled, Wiggins had the hot hand so everyone fed him."

10. Merry Christmas everyone.

UP NEXT: at Miami, AmericanAirlines Arena, 5 p.m. Thursday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Shabazz Muhammad (6-6, 227)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Thaddeus Young (6-8, 221)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Gorgui Dieng (6-11, 233)
SG Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Andrew Wiggins (6-8, 199)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Zach LaVine (6-5, 183)
Cavs - C Alex Kirk, F Lou Amundson
Timberwolves - G Kevin Martin, C Nikola Pekovic, G Ricky Rubio
Tom Washington, Courtney Kirkland, Ben Taylor

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Game 26: Grizzlies at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. When the Grizzlies left power forward Zach Randolph (sore knee) and Tony Allen (corneal abrasion) back in Memphis, that changed the complexion of the game. Even without those two players, the Grizzlies still defend. Allen, though, would have guarded LeBron James. He gets up for the challenge of guarding him. It was a huge difference when Courtney Lee started the game on him instead of Allen.

2. Regardless of who played for the Grizzlies, they are still a formidable team. They recently came off wins over Golden State and San Antonio on back-to-back nights. They are for real. Even though they were a bit short-handed, they still brought players like Kosta Koufos, Vince Carter, Quincy Pondexter and Nick Calathes off the bench.

3. Koufos probably won't be joining the Cavs via trade, but he sure would look good coming off their bench. He had eight points, three rebounds and one steal in 24 minutes for the Grizzlies.

4. The Cavs were impressive. They shot 61 percent from the field. They dished out 34 assists on 46 field goals. They had two players - James and Kyrie Irving - who had more than 10 assists. That's impressive.

5. Defensively, the Cavs limited the Grizzlies to 91 points, including a season-low 1 of 16 from the 3-point line (6.3 percent). The Cavs are 8-1 when holding opponents to 91 points or fewer, 12-1 when outshooting opponents. They are 13-2 when they reach the century mark.

6. The Cavs' bench outscored Memphis, 37-34. The bench is rounding into form - finally. I'm working on a story on the bench for later in the week.

7. Mike Miller didn't look like he was moving around very well. After his sparkling 21-point performance against Brooklyn on Friday, he didn't score against the Grizzlies. He took only one shot. One of the reasons he was promoted to the startling lineup was his conditioning finally was on par. Coach David Blatt casually dropped that tidbit in his postgame chat before the Memphis game.

8. Grizzlies forward Joe Leuer, who started in place of Randolph, had a strong game with 16 points, seven rebounds and two steals. He was 7 of 14 from the field and 2 of 2 from behind the arc. I have to tell you I never thought he'd be much of a player, but he's playing well. I commend his performance. He played briefly for the Cavs two years ago.

UP NEXT: vs. Minnesota, Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m. Tuesday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Tayshaun Prince (6-9, 215)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Jon Leuer (6-10, 228)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Marc Gasol (7-1, 265)
SG Mike Miller (6-8, 218) vs. Courtney Lee (6-5, 200)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Mike Conley (6-1, 185)
Cavs - C Alex Kirk, F Lou Amundson
Grizzlies - G Tony Allen, F/C Zach Randolph
Jason Phillips, Violet Palmer, Sean Corbin

Friday, December 19, 2014

Game 25: Nets at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. Cavaliers coach David Blatt hinted after practice on Thursday a change might be in order. Finally, he made the move on Friday by inserting Mike Miller as the starting shooting guard. That move was long overdue. It was about two weeks late, in my opinion. The bottom line to me is that you want your shooting guard to be able to shoot. Shawn Marion's lack of offense was hurting the starting unit. Marion is a strong defender and there's a lot to like about him, but Miller can knock down an open shot. Marion - he of the funky shot - can no longer do that.

2. Blatt said the move was also made to strengthen the second unit. That group has struggled all season and certainly could use a jolt. The Cavs still got outscored by the Nets' bench, 28-23. But with Marion, Dion Waiters, Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson and James Jones, they have some semblance of a bench. It could work out for them. 

3. Waiters, however, didn't play in the second half. Zilch. Nada. I'm sure he's steamed right now. Coach David Blatt said it was just a gut feeling. Waiters hasn't been playing real well, even in the Atlanta game when he scored 21 points. Some think this is a precursor to him being moved. We'll have to see how it plays out. It wouldn't shock me.

4. This was a must-win game for the Cavs. Why? They face Memphis on Sunday. Had they lost Friday's game, as well as on Sunday, they'd be facing a three-game losing streak. The Grizzlies are one of the top teams in the league. They grind it out inside and have a fabulous point guard in Mike Conley. It could be a war on Sunday. Just so you know, the game is at 4:30 p.m.

5. Thompson had a strong game and played the entire fourth quarter. He ended with nine points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes. Anderson Varejao, who seems to be wearing down as the season goes on, didn't get off the bench in the fourth. 

6. The Cavs are 11-4 when they outrebound the opposition. I thought that would be a staple for the Cavs this season. They held the Nets to just four offensive rebounds. They have 99 total rebounds in two games against Brooklyn, compared to the Nets' 70.

7. James surpassed Charles Barkley (23,757) for 23rd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. 

UP NEXT: vs. Memphis, Quicken Loans Arena, 4:30 p.m. Sunday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Joe Johnson (6-7, 240)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Kevin Garnett (6-11, 253)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Mason Plumlee (6-11, 235)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Sergey Karasev (6-7, 208)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Deron Williams (6-3, 200)
Cavs - C Alex Kirk, F Lou Amundson
Nets - G Markel Brown, C Brook Lopez
Monty McCutchen, Dedric Taylor, Sean Wright

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Game 24: Hawks at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. You think 14-10 is where the Cavs thought they'd be after 24 games? Not in your wildest dreams. This isn't coming together how they thought it would. Defense has been the problem repeatedly for much of the season. This team scores plenty of points. It just doesn't stop the opposition like it needs to. For anyone to think this is going to end in a championship run, you're out of your gourde.

2. Now, look, it's not like it can't happen. There is a lot of talent on this team. Any team that has LeBron James on it, has a chance at winning the whole enchilada. However, it's time this team starts playing like a championship challenger. They came into Wednesday's game the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. Right now, present day, I don't think they'd get out of the second round of the playoffs. That's not what they had in mind when they built this team.

3. Forward Kevin Love was in the starting lineup after missing shootaround with flu-like symptoms. He finished with a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds, but did very little after his customary hot first quarter.

4. The Hawks ripped the Cavaliers a new one, and were playing without perhaps their best player in point guard Jeff Teague. He's also their floor general. It didn't make one bit of difference. Dennis Schroder dished out a career-high 10 assists. When he went to the bench, Shelvin Mack just embarrassed the Cavs with a career-high 24 points. He was 6 of 6 from behind the arc. Where was Kyrie Irving in all this? No where to be seen. He scored just nine points on the night. He stayed out on the court afterward and took shot after shot. He hasn't been the same since he suffered the knee injury in OKC last week. He might be a bit fatigued. I don't know what it is, but he hasn't been the same.

5. Cavs swingman Mike Miller really wanted to play tonight, but was held back for precautionary reasons. His neck was a bit stiff. He's now missed seven games with his concussion. 

6. Forward LeBron James didn't like the line of questioning after the game and asked a radio host if he ever asks anything but negative questions. The radio host asked LeBron if he was embarrassed after a loss like this. There was nothing wrong with the question. In fact, Coach David Blatt used the same word about 10 minutes earlier. 

7. James is four points shy of surpassing Charles Barkley (23,757) for 23rd place on the NBA's all-time scoring list. Perhaps he'll pass Barkley in the next game.

8The Cavs had a nine-game winning streak snapped against Eastern Conference foes. They are 12-4 vs. the East this season.

UP NEXT: vs. Brooklyn, Quicken Loans Arena, 7:30 p.m. Friday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. DeMarre Carroll (6-8, 212)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Paul Millsap (6-8, 246)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Al Horford (6-10, 245)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Kyle Korver (6-7, 212)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Dennis Schroder (6-1, 168)
Cavs - C Alex Kirk, G/F Mike Miller
Hawks - F Adreian Payne, G Jeff Teague
Bill Kennedy, Kevin Cutler, Gary Zielinsky

Monday, December 15, 2014

Game 23: Hornets at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. The Cavaliers snapped a two-game losing streak with an impressive victory over the pesky Hornets. This is the start of a 5-game homestand for the Cavaliers, but there aren't many pushovers. The Hornets have bottomed out after making the playoffs last year. When I asked what happened to the Hornets, a member of their traveling party said, "We got Lanced!" He was referring to guard Lance Stephenson, who was signed as a free agent and hasn't exactly worked out. The Hornets are trying to trade him.

2. The Cavaliers played short-handed once again. Swingman Mike Miller (concussion) missed his sixth consecutive game. Coach David Blatt hopes he'll be able to play against Atlanta on Wednesday. Backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova (stomach ailment) played 12 largely ineffective minutes. Most players wouldn't even attempted to play, Blatt said. He said Delly lost seven pounds in the last couple days.

3. Cavs forward LeBron James' left knee must be monitored in the foreseeable future. He missed the Oklahoma City game with knee soreness. It might be a case where he'll need to back off a bit in practice just to stay ready for the games. When asked how his knee was after shootaround, James replied, "Good enough for me to go  out and play. The best way to recover is to get as much rest as possible."

4. The Cavs must get back to defending like they were. Their defense was shredded in the two-game road trip in OKC and New Orleans. Part of the problem is the quality of the two teams they played. Both have penetrating guards, who find shooters on the perimeter. Hornets point guard Kemba Walker can wreak havoc on a defense, too, and fired in 24 points on Monday. When asked about the team's defense in the previous two games, Irving refused to answer at shootaround. "I think I will keep that to myself," he said. "I want to keep that internally in our locker room."

5. The Cavs have won nine consecutive games against Eastern Conference foes. They are 12-3 vs. the East this season.

UP NEXT: vs. Atlanta, Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m. Wednesday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (6-7, 232)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Cody Zeller (7-0, 240)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Al Jefferson (6-10, 289)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Lance Stephenson (6-5, 230)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Kemba Walker (6-1, 184)
Cavs - G/F Mike Miller, C Alex Kirk
Hornets - F Noah Vonleh
Marc Davis, Steve Anderson, Mark Ayotte

Friday, December 12, 2014

Cavs at Pelicans

Smoothie King Center
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. The Cavaliers ended a grueling stretch of four games in five nights. They dropped both games of a back-to-back road set in Oklahoma City and New Orleans. Both teams were under .500 at the time of the game. The Cavs ended an 8-game winning streak in OKC.

2. Cavs forward LeBron James returned to the lineup after a one-game absence with a sore left knee. He matched his season high with 41 points, including 19 in the first quarter. He didn't play like someone who had a sore knee. He didn't serve as playmaker. He was in attack mode from the start. Of course, that might happen when a team tries to defend him with Luke Babbitt.

3. Guard Kyrie Irving suffered a knee contusion in the OKC game. He didn't look right in the New Orleans game - at least in the first three quarters. He missed his first nine shots from the field. Then in the fourth quarter, he made 7 of 10 shots for 17 points. Irving also dished out seven assists.

4. The Cavs were scheduled to take Saturday off and then practice on Sunday. They host Charlotte on Monday, the first game of a five-game homestand. This won't be an easy 5-game stretch, as they face playoff teams like Charlotte, Atlanta and Memphis.

5. The Pelicans were 12 of 28 from the 3-point line. Forward Ryan Anderson was particularly lethal with an 8-for-14 performance en route to 30 points. In two games against the Cavs this season, Anderson averaged 31 points. He was a load to handle on Friday. The Cavs switched James onto him to try to slow him down. All that did was open up driving lanes for Pelicans guard Tyreke Evans, who fired in 31 points and dished out 10 assists. Anderson has one of the quickest releases on his shot in the league.

6. The Cavaliers caught a huge break when Pelicans power forward Anthony Davis, an early leader for MVP honors, was knocked out of the game with a shoulder injury. The 6-10, 220-pounder is averaging 25.1 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. He played just 6:30 in the game, but it didn't make one bit of difference. The Pelicans shot 55.7 percent from the field and totally exploited the Cavs' defense.

7. Before I forget, the Pelicans are in last place in the Southwest Division. If they were in the East, they'd be one of the top five teams come playoff time. The Southwest is easily the best division in basketball with Houston, Memphis, San Antonio and Dallas the other contenders. Wow. 

8. Cavs guard Dion Waiters was checked out by doctors with a stomach problem. The Cavs could get swingman Mike Miller (concussion) back for Monday's game.

UP NEXT: vs. Charlotte, Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m. Monday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Luke Babbitt (6-9, 220)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Anthony Davis (6-10, 220)
C Anderson Varejao (6-11, 267) vs. Omer Asik (7-0, 255)
SG Shawn Marion (6-7, 228) vs. Tyreke Evans (6-6, 220)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Jrue Holiday (6-4, 205)
Cavs - G/F Mike Miller, C Alex Kirk
Pelicans - G Eric Gordon, G Russ Smith
Bill Spooner, Kevin Scott, James Williams