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Demetri Inembolidis

laccle-130301-02 0The Los Angeles Clippers have not had a lot of success in Cleveland. You would have to go all the way back to the 2001-2002 season to find the last time that they were able to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers on the road. The date was March 10, 2002 and the Cavs were wrapping up what would become a 29 win season. To put things into perspective, of the 22 players that participated in that game, only Elton Brand and Andre Miller continue to collect NBA paychecks.

The home winning streak against the Clippers came to an end on Friday night. When news broke that Kyrie Irving would miss his third straight game with a hyper-extended knee, it all but guaranteed that this would happen. The Clippers are one of the few elite teams in the NBA and the Cavs have to play a near flawless game to beat them. For example, Cleveland beat the Clippers in Los Angeles on November 5, 2012 by a score of 108-101. It took a fully healthy roster and 7 made three pointers by Dion Waiters for the narrow win.

For the first time in three games, the Cavs did not start the game very badly. Tristan Thompson once again had a good start for the Cavaliers. His activity on the boards helped him record 6 points and 6 rebounds in the quarter. Not to be outdone, eastern conference rookie of the month Dion Waiters was even more aggressive than Thompson. He took and made 4 shots en route to 9 points. Foul trouble plagued Waiters throughout the game. Byron Scott had to make the tough decision to sit Waiters after he picked up his second foul with 2:51 remaining in the first. The Cavs trailed by 1 point when the substitution happened and they were outscored by a 9-2 margin to end the quarter.


Demetri Inembolidis

162779715The talk on social media on Tuesday was that this would be forever remembered  as "the Luke Walton Game." On the surface, Luke Walton's 8 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and a steal are not that impressive. Of every player in the match-up between the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, he had the highest +/- with a +13. The reason Walton had great success despite not having a great box score was his veteran presence. The ball seemed to move better when he was in the game. He took good shots. His defense was smart. Last but not least, he played with great effort. This was most evident when he chased down a loose ball after two made Cavalier free throws that practically won the game and knocked it off Kirk Hinrich's leg.

The win against the Bulls was significant for the young Cavs. They were without superstar Kyrie Irving due to a hyper-extended knee. Going into the game, the Bulls have won 11 straight against the Cavs. In fact, you would have to go back to the LeBron James era to find the last time that the Cavs beat the Bulls in the regular season. To win a game against a team that has 11 straight wins against you is impressive. To do it on the road is even more impressive. To do it without your best player is incredible.

The Cavs got off to a slow start and had to overcome a large deficit. After a little over four minutes, the Cavs found themselves trailing by a score of 11-2 after shooting 12.5%. Tristan Thompson did his best to keep the Cavs in the game. Thompson had 9 points and 3 rebounds in the first quarter. He played a little too aggressively at times during the quarter, but his energy appeared to be infectious on the rest of the team. By the time the first quarter was over. the Cavs only trailed by a score of 22-19. This was quite promising considering the slow start that the team had.

After being benched quickly in the first twelve minutes, Dion Waiters played the entire second quarter. He had an effective stretch. Waiters finished the quarter with 10 points on 7 shots. Waiters has looked great as of late. Against the Bulls, he had 25 points on 10-16 shooting. Leading up to the game on Tuesday, Waiters has been shooting 14.1 points on 50.9% shooting. A lot of people, including myself, were critical of Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant for selecting an out of shape guard who did not work out for the team or start in college with the fourth overall pick. The recent play of Dion Waiters has shown that we should be patient before casting final judgements on young players. In two weak drafts, Chris Grant has managed to get a superstar and two players who look like legitimate rotation players on good teams.


Demetri Inembolidis

152062903 Raptors Cavs Kyle110 0To say that the Cavs started the game against the Raptors on Tuesday night poorly would be the understatement of the year. The Cavs missed 14 out of their first 15 shots in the game and were giving up open shots to the Raptors. Cleveland was trailing the Raptors 21-7 with 3:07 remaining in the first quarter. Despite shooting 24% in the first quarter, the Cavs only trailed 20-25 after the first 12 minutes of the game.

The scripts on Cavs games lately is that they come out of the gate passively despite Tristan Thompson playing hard. Once again, he played like a bull in a china shop in the first stretch of the game. Perhaps he wanted to send a message to the many detractors who believed the Cavs should have drafted Jonas Valansciunas. Thompson secured 8 rebounds in the game and 5 of them were in the first quarter. Thompson missed all of his 5 shots in the first, but it once again felt like he helped set the tone. Even on nights when his shot isn't falling, It feels like he is making more of an impact lately than he did earlier in his career.

Shaun Livingston made his second straight start for the injured Kyrie Irving. Despite his foul trouble, Livingston was able to play 33 minutes. In addition, it did not appear that he allowed his 5 fouls to heavily affect his defensive intensity. Livingston had 15 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists. One of the most entertaining moments of the game came with 54 seconds left in the game. Only leading by 5 points after giving up a 9 point lead earlier in the quarter, it felt like the game could go either way. Rudy Gay and DeMar DeRozan were hitting seemingly every shot that they took. Livingston had a great no-look pass to Alonzo Gee who lost his man on a screen. Gee had a reverse dunk which helped shift momentum.

Once again, Luke Walton was exceptional. Although he only scored 5 points, he also had 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Walton led the Cavs in +/- with a positive rating of 20. The offense seems to flow much better when he is in the game and a part of the offense. Walton had a great no-look bounce-pass through his own legs to Wayne Ellington who converted on an 18 foot jump shot with 32 seconds left in the game. It happened on the very next possession after the great Shaun Livingston pass to Alonzo Gee. Needless to say, it was the most entertaining sequence in the game and it left the crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena overjoyed.


Andrew Clayman

cavsheat2-24-13If an “Oscar Clip” showcases a riveting performance condensed into a matter of seconds, then Daniel-Day Lewis had nothin’ on C.J. Miles last night. Sure, C.J.’s Cavaliers fell once again to the hated Heat in South Beach, just as “Lincoln” took it on the chin against “Argo.”  But for 60 remarkable seconds of the third quarter, Cleveland’s back-up two-guard transformed himself convincingly into Reggie Miller at the Garden in ’95—erasing a Miami lead in a tidal wave of triples and silencing the King’s Court, if only for a moment. Final count: 109-105.

Up until Mr. Miles (19 points) put his method training to work, the script had been all too familiar—the young, overmatched Cavaliers (18-38) rendered helpless at the hands of their former leader, embarrassed and mocked before the imbecilic masses of Miami: Sportstown USA. Cleveland came in just 1-7 against the Heat since “The Decision,” and despite losing by just 2 points on their last visit to the American Airlines Arena back in November, the absence of Anderson Varejao in this rematch looked obvious early. LeBron greeted his old (and presumably future) team with a dunk to start the game, and a string of three-pointers from Mario Chalmers (16 pts), Ray Allen (11 pts), and effing Chris Bosh (7 pts) sent Miami off on a 14-2 run to close the first frame. It was 33-20. Fun.

The second quarter concluded in similar fashion, with three inside bunnies by James (game-high 28 pts and 8 assists) and three-pointers from Allen and Chalmers leading to a 12-1 Heat run in the final 3 minutes. It was 64-46. Might as well watch ‘dem purdy dresses on the red carpet now.


Demetri Inembolidis

imagesThe night was May 22, 2003. The Cleveland Cavaliers were fresh off a season that saw them win 17 games and lose 65. Although there were some a lot of knuckleheads on the team, general manager Jim Paxson did something he hadn't been able to do in any other year: he put the Cavs in a position to win. They weren't looking to win a game, a playof series or a championship. The prize was the rights to draft local basketball phenom LeBron James in the upcoming draft.

The stakes were high. The Cavs needed a shot in the arm. Forget about hoping for a championship. They needed a superstar. There were some promising young players on the roster such as Carlos Boozer and Dajuan Wagner, but those guys couldn't be counted on to build a team around. They were better suited to be supporting cast members. Unfortunately for the Cavs, they simply couldn't be counted on. One was given a raw deal in his genetic makeup and the other took advantage of gullible businessmen into a bigger contract in Utah. Regardless, the Cavs needed a franchise player.

In the book Tales from the Cleveland Cavaliers: The Rookie Season of LeBron James by Roger Gordon, Austin Carr described how vastly important the events of May 22, 2003 were. After discussing broken feet in key playoff games, being in the same division as the Jordan Bulls, Brad Daugherty's bad back, Zydrunas Ilgauskas' foot injuries and even his own injury-laden career, Carr said that "the basketball gods looked down and said 'It's Cleveland's turn." And indeed it was. Carr openly wept tears of joy at the draft lottery watch party at Champps in Valley View. Strangers who were openly crying were hugging in a raucous scene. Carr proceeded to say that "it meant so much to the area and the franchise."

Things weren't going to be easy. Teams do not win immediately even with a talent like LeBron James. After All, there is a reason the Cavs only won 17 games in the previous season. This was blatantly obvious when the Cavs lost in his first NBA game to the still-elite Sacramento Kings by a score of 106-92. James lived up to the hype and delivered a 25 point, 6 rebound, 9 assist and 4 steal performance. The announcing crew was gushing over his unselfishness James gave up an open dunk so he could pass to a trailing Ricky Davis.


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