The Cavs: A Season of Ups and Downs


With COVID-19 suspending all the major leagues for at least 30 days, the season is, for now, suspended. With that already happening and the possibility of this suspension going on for longer, I want to look at the Cavs’s season so far and analyze how the rebuild went this year and where it could be going.

The standout player this year, without question, has to be Colin Sexton. After a rough first half of the year, and an especially rough rookie season, he really shined the last couple of months and most nights was one of the best, if not the best player on the team, leading the team in points per game. After the Jordan Clarkson trade, a lot more seemed to open up for him; his assists per game averages went up (along with his passing vision slowly improving) and he had the best stretch of his early career scoring wise. Obviously, he still has plenty of issues. He still loves to put his head down and run at the rim, often throwing up some questionable shots in the process. His passing is still very sub-par for his position, even if you say he is a natural shooting guard. His defense is terrible but the team’s defense is also terrible so some leniency should be given, at least for this year. His biggest asset is his hard work and there is little reason to believe he will not improve in these areas at least somewhat in the next couple of years. His ceiling may be low compared to the other young players on this team but he is definitely the best out of all of them right now.

Kevin Porter Jr., especially in the last month or so, has been a revelation. While he had a slow start to the season, he ended it on a high note. His best game came against Miami, which I wrote about here, where he had a career high of 30 points while looking like a quality starter throughout. Koby Altman gambled on him by trading up to the end of the first round to get him, and as long as he continues to work, that gamble should pay off. He was a very nice surprise this year, and he could be the x-factor that turns this rebuild around in the coming years.

There is not much to say about Darius Garland this year. He barely played any college games and was coming off of a major injury, he should never have been given any expectations at all. Even then, he often was a bit disappointing, especially later in the season. That being said, his passing is fairly far along for his age and he can shoot well from 3 point range, so I have confidence that with a full NBA offseason with the team, and with a (mostly) full year under his belt already, he can make a similar jump to Sexton in his 2nd season.


The biggest questions after this year involve Dylan Windler, Andre Drummond, and Kevin Love.

For Dylan, it will be all about his development. If he develops well he could be a great bench shooter for the Cavs down the line, but he is already a year behind on his development. We will have to wait and see how he looks next year to get a real feel for whether this becomes the case.

For Drummond, it is all about his player option. He only played 8 games for the Cavs, so it is hard to know whether he could become a better fit with the team with more time. The best scenario for the Cavs would be if he picked up his option and played his contract out next year, because they could get a much better look at how he would fit with this team in the long term while not having to commit to him for the foreseeable future. If he does decline it, there would not be much pressure to re-sign him, due to the team not giving up much of anything for him in the trade for him. But the question is: should the Cavs resign him? It is a difficult question. He is an all-star caliber center, and one of the best rebounders in the league, but he will be commanding a lot of money in free agency if he opts out this year. If he opts out, he will be one of the best unrestricted free agents available, and may get offers close to the maximum salary. Should the Cavs put a sizable chunk of their cap space into a center that is talented, but somewhat outdated due to how the game is changing and moving smaller? I personally do not think so, but there are not many alternatives that end up with the Cavs having better players than Andre Drummond.

With Kevin Love, the question has been lingering for months: will he be traded? It would be the best move for both parties, as Love wants out and the Cavs will get less and less production out of him as he ages more. But Koby and the team seem to value him higher than the rest of the league, which has become an issue in previous trade negotiations. He has been a good locker room guy for the young guys (he has his bad moments, though) while being a somewhat stable presence on the floor for the team, which would be great if his contract was not so massive. The biggest issue is that he wants to leave, and at any point if the Cavs stop trying to move him, he may become unhappy and take it public. With his contract, hardly anyone wants him unless they’re giving back a similarly terrible deal. Altman seems to want to get off of the money in some way (a contract that is similar but has less years on it overall) plus a pick of some capacity, which I do not think is possible. Maybe with a weak free agent class teams will get desperate, but the front office will probably have to lower their expectations to get a deal done.

If the season does resume and everyone plays the rest of their regular season games, the rest of the team’s schedule is manageable. The Bucks and the Lakers are tough matchups, but besides that, there are some very winnable games (notably against the Suns twice, Hawks, and Kings) in there to make the end of the season exciting and watchable.

In the more likely event that this goes on for longer and the NBA jumps to the playoffs or even cancels the season, I am optimistic about the team’s future after this year. The Cavs have a nice core that we will hopefully add to in this draft (Obi Toppin would be ideal). JB Bickerstaff signed a long term extension, so it seems that the Cavs have a coach committed to being here for the duration of the rebuild, which will really help with finding a direction and building towards it. The team has a lot of cap space, which is not useful in this free agent class but they could turn that into expiring contracts to trade next season, or they can wait until 2021’s class and try to get solid guys around Garland, KPJ, and Colin. While this season was a rough one to watch for fans,  the future seems fairly bright for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Playoff LeBron is here: Cavs win 12th consecutive home playoff game against Eastern Conference

Foul trouble happened to be the theme of the night as the Cavs racked up 25, but Cleveland’s stars willed their way to playoff win No. 1. The Cavs overcame the Indiana Pacers in a final second thriller with a score of 109-108, and set the tone coming into the offseason.

LeBron had a marvelous 32 points, six rebounds, and 13 assists while leading the team in minutes. Tristan Thompson did not seem phased with the thumb injury, as he racked up eight points, and 13 rebounds (six offensive). The big three accounted for 72 points, and made all of the necessary plays to win.

High energy was the formula for this game from the start, and LeBron maintained that energy from the moment he stepped on the court for pre-game. Love began with the first seven points of the game, and Kyrie carried that momentum from there on. LeBron had a quiet first quarter, while waiting until three minutes left in the first quarter to attempt a shot. The Cavs left the fourth quarter with a field goal percentage of 65 percent, and optimism going forward.

Entering the second quarter, the Cavs cultivated this energy and the stars on the team continued to shine. With about six minutes left in the second quarter, the atmosphere uplifted tremendously with LeBron’s acrobatic alley-oop from Kyrie.

LeBron ended off the second half with an emphatic and-one layup, and began the MVP chants. The Cavs led with a score of 66-59 while shooting 60 percent from the field, and the big three all were in double digits.

Paul George started off the third quarter with three consecutive buckets, and continued his recent hot streak as the primary scorer for the Pacers. Tension increased as the Pacers fought back vicariously, and brought the game within two points at the halfway mark of the third.

With five minutes remaining in the third, the big three all had three fouls on them, and that warranted limited minutes going into the fourth. All momentum shifted near the end of the third when LeBron slammed a monstrous dunk, off of a 50/50 hustle steal. He was near a triple double, and the Cavs went into the fourth quarter with a comfortable lead of 92-84.

Kyle Korver brought the fourth quarter into action with a long two-pointer off of a screen, assisted by LeBron. Lance Stephenson is fully acclimated to the Pacers scheme once again, and was the secondary playmaker that kept the game tight.

With two minutes left, the intensity flourished and the arena convulsed from excitement. LeBron and Kyrie made two sensational plays to put the Cavs ahead by three points, but the game remained tight. Kyrie had two crucial steals as well that seemed to solidify the win, but that wasn’t the case yet. Paul George hit a three-pointer from deep that brought the game within one point.

Twenty seconds remained as the Cavs held a one point lead, and the Pacers had possession of the ball following a timeout. Late game defense solidified the win as C.J Miles missed a potential game winner, and the Cavs squeezed their way out of a tight one.

The Cavs have now won 12 straight home playoff games against the Eastern Conference, and the they are now 4-1 against Indiana this season. LeBron has now also played his 200th playoff game, which lands as ninth on the all-time list. LeBron is also has won 18 straight first-round playoff games, covering a span of about five years.

The next playoff game will be held in Cleveland on April 21st, and the Cavs will look to continue the Eastern Conference home win streak.

 

 

 


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Irving-less Cavaliers Capitalize

Slow and steady was the theme of last nights’ game, while the Cleveland Cavaliers grinded out their game against the Memphis Grizzlies with a score of 103-86. The Grizzlies played this game deprived of their star point guard, Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons as well. The Grizzlies arrived in this game with a record of 17-8 while coming off of a 6-game win streak. Kevin Love had another great game with 29 points, and 13 rebounds. J.R Smith was 6-10 from behind the arc, and put in a solid 23 points. LeBron had 23 points and played a nonchalant game with only 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

 

The first half was one for the books for the Cavaliers Kevin Love and J.R Smith as they made their way into history. JR Smith struck 4 three-pointers in the first half, and passed Dale Ellis for the 14th all time three-point shooter with 1,720 3’s-pointers made. Kevin Love also joined very high company with being the 5th active player to make 800 three-pointers, and also have at least 6,000 rebounds in his career. The company that he joins with this achievement includes LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce, and Carmelo Anthony.

 

The Cavaliers are breaking out of the brief slump that they were in, and look to win and continue to break records on the way. LeBron is 28 points from passing Moses Malone for the 8th place on the all-time scoring list and this is a very possible accomplishment within the next game.

 

The Cavaliers are now 18-5 while sitting alone at the top of the Eastern Conference. The closest team behind the Cavaliers is the Toronto Raptors with a record of 17-7, and they are the only real threat from the looks of it currently.

 

The Cavs next game will be on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, December 14th, at 8 PM. For more information on the Cavaliers, make sure that you stay updated with our website, and we will continue to bring all of the Cavs stats and info that you need.

Tough Loss at the Q

The Cleveland Cavaliers did not have an easy start last night, and could never quite catch up to a first half, 11-point deficit. They played the Atlanta Hawks who have bkyrie-clevelandeen playoff opponents for the past two years. This Atlanta Hawks team features very different personnel, including Dwight Howard, and two exceptional players in Kent Bazemore, and Dennis Schroder. The Hawks held LeBron James to only two points while shooting 20% in the first half, while keeping JR Smith at only three points. The addition of Dwight Howard added a massive presence in the paint, and left the double-double machine, Tristan Thompson with only two rebounds throughout the whole game. The second half is when the momentum shifted, and the Cavaliers began to get revitalized. LeBron led the way with 16 points in the third quarter, and had a game changing and-one layup that was delivered from a Kyrie Irving crafty assist. The big three had a huge mark on the game with a combined 76 points, but not enough to cap off the win. The biggest bright spot throughout the game was the consistent effort and play from Kevin Love, who ended the game with 24 points and 12 rebounds.

The Cavaliers are 11-0 against the Hawks in their two postseason matchups, and have entirely dominated the Hawks from behind the arc. In game one of the matchup last year, they broke the all-time record in the regular and post-season for three pointers made in a game with 25. This was not the case last night while they shot a measly 26% from behind the arc, with 42 three pointers attempted. The biggest area that needed improvement was the rebounding, and it was apparent during the whole game. The Cavs gave up 17 rebounds to Dwight Howard and the Hawks outrebounded them by 11 boards as well. Despite the loss, the Cavaliers only had 6 turnovers to the Hawks 19, so positives can definitely be drawn from this game. The Cavs next game will be on the road against the Washington Wizards this Friday, November 11th at 7 PM. For more information on the Cavaliers, make sure that you stay updated with our website, and we will continue to bring all of the Cavs stats and info that you need.

This is a short post-game soundbite from coach Tyronn Lue, discussing the decision to not foul in the final seconds of the game.

https://soundcloud.com/user-221617666/tyrone-lue-post-game-presser


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