Over the course of the season, we here at Everybody Hates Cleveland are going to try and post some quick-hit thoughts on the game, in real-time fashion. I don’t know what it will end up looking like when it’s all said and done, but we’re all about throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what sticks. With the Cavaliers struggling to find themselves, this is going to be an experiment in sanity, and an equal experiment in writing.
It should be fun, even if the games aren’t so much these days.
The Cleveland Cavaliers entered the game against the San Antonio Spurs with a 5-4 record, and a 2-2 record at home. The team is clearly trying to find itself, and the process is proving to be an up-and-down affair that resembles more a roller coaster from Cedar Point, than an NBA basketball team with three of the best players in the NBA.
LeBron came out in the press yesterday discussing the minutes of their Big 3, and how they absolutely have to have their minutes cut. I don’t disagree, but still feel that David Blatt needs to figure out his lineup. With the Spurs in town, it will be interesting to see how this plays out. I sincerely doubt that this is the game Blatt cuts the minutes of his best players.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ offense is an interesting animal. I’ve already written about David Blatt’s offensive playbook, and the complexities of his schemes. While it looked like the team had made some strides when they blew out the Atlanta Hawks, it’s clear that the Cavaliers are still trying to figure things out.
In the first half of the Spurs’ game, the majority of the scoring seemed to come based simply on the hot hand doing the right thing, or, well, because Anderson Varejao had one of those strange streaks in which his wild crashing to the basket turned into an abundance of points.
While the Cavs had some nice stretches of scoring, it was clear that the 47 points they scored weren’t indicative of what this team could or should do, even against the San Antonio Spurs.
Head coach David Blatt continually pounded his chest in the huddle preaching to his team to “avoid one-on-one basketball.” My guess is that he’s going to have to continue pounding, because the innate nature of Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to grab the ball and try and score.
They spent a lot of time taking shots early in possessions, and without that ball movement we keep hearing about.
There were moments in which the Cavs were playing solid defense, and these brief moments seemed to spur (pun intended) the Cavs on offensively. It was partially because it left the Spurs off-balance defensively, and partially because it allowed the Cavs to run.
Teams won’t like them when they run.
In the third quarter, the Cavs and David Blatt clearly were trying to get Kevin Love involved in the offense. Well, it was either that, or Kevin Love decided it was time to make some noise.
It wasn’t very effective.
Love often would get the ball and face up his defender fifteen feet out near the left wing, but just wasn’t efficient with his shots. The Spurs are really good defensively, and that can’t be forgotten here, but Love seemed most effective when he was looking to pass the ball.
Boris Diaw ate the Cavaliers alive through three quarters, even though it’s pretty clear that he’s curbed his eating in the offseason. In Diaw, the Spurs have a player that can really take up space, score both inside and out, and he can really pass the ball. It’s pretty amazing to see how his game has altered over the years as he’s gotten bigger, and less mobile. He was a 200 pound big guard for the Suns when he was younger. Now he’s 250 pound power forward/center, but can handle the ball well.
It was pretty clear that Diaw was frustrating Love on both sides of the court.
Now, before I get to the end of this, I took a lot of joy in this game watching Gregg Popovich brood as though he were some sorta Obi Wan Kenobi-looking Vampire. Things really make him angry, and I can’t tell a lie, it makes me gleeful. When he’s staring holes through the referees, he seems to send energy to Tim Duncan, who is the most passive-aggressive ref-whiners I’ve ever seen. His wide-eyed ref-stares are nearly as sensational as Pops glares. They could put on a comedy set at any city in which they just stand on-stage and stare at the crows.
As this game has progressed, I’ve found myself questioning who the most explosive player on this Cavaliers’ team really is. I know who LeBron James is. I’ve seen LeBron James play. My brain tells me the LeBron James is the team leader.
But lately, when I’ve watched this team play, he’s not the player that stands out. In this game, he was standing out for all of the wrong reasons.
This is no knock on LeBron. The season is early, and like I said, he IS the leader of the team. I just think I’m seeing what this team will ultimately be three years from now. Kyrie is really figuring things out, and when he’s moving up and down the court, he’s nearly unstoppable. His aggressive offensive nature is so fun to watch. I hope he can develop some defense.
And then there’s Anderson Varejao. He’s wild, and he’s crazy, but when he finds it offensively, he’s really fun to watch. He found it tonight. He was driving to the basket, and tipping in rebounds. He was the heart of this team today. He scored 23 points, and had 11 boards, and actually looked like he meant to do it.
He really needs to stay healthy. Once this team shakes itself out, this Varejao will make this team that much more special.
In the end, LeBron had a chance to win the ballgame, and lost control with his dribble.
It is what it is. The Spurs beat the Cavs 92-90, and the Cavs are 2-3 at home. Things will surely get better.
LeBron didn’t play well, and neither did Kevin Love. The Cavs still managed to have a shot at the end to beat the Spurs. I can live with that at the ten-game mark.
I’m sure that the social media outlets are screaming for coaching changes and trades and pining for some sorta re-trade to the Timberwolves.
Give it time people. This team will figure it out. It just takes time.
Look at the bright side: We got to see Will Cherry play, and Hulk Hogan was busy showing some wiry idiot how to pose like it was 1988.
Does it get much better than that?