10 Orbservations is a regular Saturday piece at Everybody Hates Cleveland where EHC Managing Editor Steve Orbanek offers 10 quick sports takes, both on Cleveland topics and national ones.
1. Okay, so I have seen plenty of Cleveland Cavaliers games in my lifetime, but I’m not sure if I remember one that was as bizarre as Friday night’s 122-121 win over the Boston Celtics. For three quarters, the Cavaliers were absolutely lifeless. They couldn’t create separation to get open, and it was even worse on the defensive side. You can talk all you want about how this team still needs time to mesh, and that’s true. However, that wasn’t the problem here; the problem was effort. Or to be more precise — a lack of effort. Overall, the Cavaliers were outscored 42-25 in the third quarter and trailed 101-84 after three quarters of play. Boston’s lead swelled to 19 in the fourth quarter and it seemed as if it would be a sure loss. However, then the tide suddenly started to turn…
2. If you ever need proof of how a team can feed off of LeBron James, look no further than the fourth quarter of Friday’s contest. James suddenly turned up the intensity defensively, and it was as if everyone immediately started to take note. Furthermore, the revamped intensity paid dividends and seemed to translate to the offense side as well. Kyrie Irving entered attack mode, and Joe Harris made the biggest shots of his young career. For three quarters, this game had been the low point of the early season, yet it suddenly transformed into the season’s high point. When all was said and done, James finished with 41 points, seven assists and four rebounds; it was his first 40-point game since returning to the Cavaliers. Irving was equally impressive and finished with 27 points and five assists after scoring just four points in the first half. This was far from a perfect win, but it did offer a glimpse of how this team’s talent ensures that they are never out of any game. While the Celtics are far from a good basketball team, they still held a 19-point lead in the fourth quarter. Even your best teams will usually struggle to come back from that, but it never even felt as if the Cavaliers were out of it. The beautiful thing is that we have not even seen close to the beginning of this team’s potential. It’s going to be one helluva ride before it’s said and done.
3. A peculiar thing to make note of in Friday’s contest is that head coach David Blatt once again chose to not play Dion Waiters in the game’s waning moments. This is interesting because he did the same thing earlier this season when he chose to give key minutes to Matthew Dellavedova, and on Friday, he gave those minutes to the rookie Harris. Granted, Harris responded well, but one has to wonder why Waiters is not getting this time. On Friday, Waiters was once again efficient in his limited time as he scored 10 points while shooting 4-for-8 from the floor. It’s likely just a coincidence, but you have to feel for Waiters, who likely is champing at the bit to get more playing time. It will be interesting to watch how this unfolds moving forward.
4. Cavaliers fans can breathe easy. In other Cavalier news, Kevin Love squashed the rumor that he was potentially interested in opting out and heading to Los Angeles this summer to join the Lakers. While he did not confirm that he would indeed re-sign with the Cavaliers, Love did have the following to say, “Going to the Lakers, no, that’s not [true]. I don’t know where somebody got that.” Of course, speculation will likely continue all the way through next summer, but let’s be honest for a minute. Who would want to play for the Lakers anyhow? The team has proven to be abysmal this season, and we already know Kobe Bryant is less than cordial when it comes to being a teammate. I’m not saying that Kevin Love is a sure-fire bet to stay in Cleveland, but I am saying that he is a sure-fire bet to not join the Lakers. I’ve been wrong before, but this would be a real shocker to me.
5. Was everyone else as excited as I was to see Corey Kluber get recognized with the American League Cy Young Award? Could there be a more deserving individual out there? Kluber was simply terrific for the Cleveland Indians in 2014 as the right-hander went 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts. He narrowly defeated his top competition, Felix Hernandez, 169-159 and received 17 of the thirty first-place votes. Kluber led all AL pitchers in WAR (7.4) and FIP (2.35). This is interesting because we typically believe that baseball writers pay little attention to advanced metrics, but they obviously did this time. Otherwise, it seems as if the award would have definitely gone to Hernandez, who had a lower ERA. But it appears as if many baseball writers are starting to catch up with some of the more-popular trends when it comes to analyzing baseball, and that’s a great thing.
6. So, after I heard Kluber won the Cy Young, here was my first thought: “Could he win a second?” Okay, so I may be getting a little bit ahead of myself, but consider this. Kluber’s case is not similar to the Indians’ other recent Cy Young winners, C.C. Sabathia and Cliff Lee. Those two pitchers were already heading toward free agency. In comparison, Kluber is not even arbitration eligible yet, and he cannot be a free agent until after the 2018 season. In other words, we should see him repping the Tribe for some time to come, and there is no reason to believe that his success cannot continue. Additionally, it would appear as if Kluber (31-19) has a legitimate chance at getting 100 victories with the Indians before he’s eligible for free agency. He really could have the ability to be one of the greatest Indians in recent memory. That old Jake Westbrook trade continues to look better each day.
7. The Cleveland Browns will look for their seventh win tomorrow when they meet the 4-5 Houston Texans. As it stands, the Browns are currently 3.5-point favorites in the contest. This game is crucial for the Browns as it is the last game before Josh Gordon returns from his drug suspension. Could you just imagine if the Browns possibly get to 7-3 before the return of Josh Gordon? Would you have ever believed that to be possible prior to the start of the season? Yet, here we sit, on November 15, and this is a legitimate possibility. It’s just so exciting to think of the potential. Oh, Gordon is getting ready as well…
I’m stretching all weekend.. Yall know I gotta go back to work Monday right? 😉 #gettinloose
— Flash Gordon (@JOSH_GORDONXII) November 14, 2014
8. One key thing to watch in Sunday’s game is how the Browns handle Arian Foster, who is arguably the most talented running back that they have faced all season. The Browns have made some strides in recent weeks, but they’ve been helped by playing some teams with inferior running backs (Oakland Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers). That will not be the case on Sunday though as Foster can bring it. Phil Taylor’s recent return may help things, but the entire line has to be prepared to slow Foster down. In addition, once he gets past the line, Karlos Dansby, Chris Kirksey, Paul Kruger and Barkevious Mingo must do whatever they can to slow him down because his combination of power and speed does not make for a good mix once he gets into the secondary. This will be the first opportunity to see if the Browns’ defense has actually corrected some things or if it has just benefited from playing inferior competition. I want to say it’s the latter, but I’m just not sure.
9. Could Texans coach Bill O’Brien be looking at his future quarterback in Brian Hoyer on Sunday? As you know, O’Brien coached Hoyer when he was in New England. Ryan Mallet will be making his first start for the Texans, and it’s hard to believe that he’s the answer. Hoyer might be just what O’Brien is looking for, and he might have an opportunity to get him, considering Hoyer’s impending free agency. My guess is that Hoyer and his agent are well aware of the what’s riding on this game, both for the Browns and for Hoyer as an individual. Hoyer probably knows Houston might be an ideal landing spot should the Browns go in a different direction this offseason. My guess is that Hoyer rises up and has arguably the best game of his career. He’s risen up to every other challenge so far, so I have no reason to doubt him now.
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