Tag Archive | "Cleveland Cavaliers"

Cavalier Attitude

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The belief that the Cleveland Cavaliers can still walk through the Eastern Conference is Ridiculous

The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the playoffs as the defending NBA Champions looking to repeat en route to reaching The Finals for a third straight season.  LeBron James is gunning to make it to The Finals for an incredible seventh straight year (Miami/Cleveland) as he attempts to further cement his legacy.

 

Despite inconsistent play through the second half of the year, relinquishing the top overall seed in the conference to the Boston Celtics and the controversy met with resting players during marquee primetime games, many are still expecting Cleveland to roll through the Eastern Conference.  This should not be a foregone conclusion by any measure.

 

The Cavaliers enter the playoffs on a four-game losing streak and losers of seven of their last 11 games.  An 11-game sample towards the end of a long season doesn’t especially signal trouble, but the story of their troubles goes beyond that.

 

Cleveland finished the regular season 20 games over the .500 mark at 51-31.  Cleveland entered 2017 with an impressive 26-7 record making them only 25-24 in the New Year.  49 games is well over half of an NBA season.

 

Yes, a team with championship aspirations can coast through a near 50 game stretch, and playing just above .500 qualifies as coasting.  The biggest indicator of a team in trouble is how they played in their home stretch.

 

The Cavaliers high water mark was 24 games above .500 at 41-17 (February 27th) and 42-18 (March 3rd).  Cleveland finished the final quarter of the season 9-13 which is the same four games under.500 as the 4-7 finish.  Cleveland also gave up over 107 points per game for the season.  This shows that the final stretch wasn’t just a team going through the motions in the final games, but problems getting everything together.

 

A team should also be peaking at the end of the season, not playing their worst basketball of the season.  The Cavaliers have problems and overlooking them just speaks to the obsession NBA followers have for superstars like LeBron James.

 

If Cleveland and Boston meet in the Eastern Conference Finals, Boston will have home court advantage.  While a veteran team like Cleveland has certainly shown they can win big games on the road in the playoffs, it isn’t always easy, and this season Cleveland went 20-21 on the road for the regular year.  The Celtics, on the other hand, went 23-18 so they are more than capable of winning on the road in the playoffs.  That means that if these two meet in a series and Boston wins one road game, Cleveland would have to win two.

 

I don’t see Indiana giving Cleveland much trouble in the first round of the playoffs; so, they could figure things out and get in groove against the Pacers.  Cleveland needs to flip the switch, which is always a dangerous game to play.  With the way most of the second half of the season went, the question has to be asked if they know where the switch is?

 

2015-16 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

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LeBron vs. Steph Curry

A Rematch of last year’s Championship Series will have a full Cleveland team looking for Revenge

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are back at it for a rematch in The NBA Finals this season.  This year’s series has a plethora of storylines and matchups to make for an exciting series.

 

Golden State’s record 73 wins this season means nothing without a championship.  The ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls team that won 72 games throughout the regular year cashed that in with a championship, which Golden State will need to do in order to make their case for best team in league history.

 

That Chicago team also won a total of 87 games including the postseason that year.  Should Golden State win this series they will have won 89 games including the playoffs this season and a total of 172 over the past two years.  A lot is on the line as far as team greatness for the Warriors in this series.

 

On the other hand there is LeBron James, now in his sixth straight Finals.  LeBron has won two rings already but has lost in four Finals series in his career.  Along with the fact that the city of Cleveland has not won a Championship in ANY of the four major sports since 1964, a lot of pressure is on LeBron James as well.

 

As far as matchups in this series, Golden State has the clear and most widening advantage at the guard positions.  Klay Thompson and Steph Curry have found their grove again from that 3-1 comeback against Oklahoma City, and expect them to keep that pace up.  While Cleveland does have Kyrie Irving who has been shining this postseason, he is going up against the unanimous MVP who just dispatched All-NBA Team performers Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook in the past two series.  Klay Thompson has the advantage against any of the shooting guards for Cleveland.

 

LeBron James and Kevin Love give Cleveland a formidable duo at the forward positions, but Draymond Green will be a good counter to Kevin Love.  Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala will draw the assignments on LeBron James for most of the series, look for Green to be marking up James at certain key moments as well.

 

Andrew Bogut will have to stay on the court and be injury free for Golden State in this series.  Tristan Thompson, the center for Cleveland is a monster on the offensive glass, and the Warriors will have their hands full with Thompson even when Bogut is playing so a limited Bogut bodes very well for Cleveland.

 

While neither bench is spectacular, Golden State’s is a bit better.  Iguodala is an experienced veteran off the Warriors bench, and Festus Ezili and Marreese Speights can stretch the floor for big men.  Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova off the bench for Cleveland will need to be the solid defensively against both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and Channing Frye will need to be hitting his shots.

 

For Cleveland to win, LeBron James will have to be the best player on the court and assert himself early in games offensively, than let the rest of the game come to his teammates – not the other way around.  James too often likes to get everyone involved and then let the game come to him.  In this series, LeBron has to be aggressive for Cleveland to win.

 

The matchups are too much in favor of Golden State, and I don’t see LeBron being aggressive enough.  While the matchups are fairly even everywhere else, the difference in the guard play is too much in Golden State’s favor for Cleveland to win this series.  Sorry Cleveland, it will be 52 years and counting since Championships after this series, WARRIORS IN SIX.

 

 

NBA Finals 2015: New Wave Basketball Metrics on Display

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NBA Finals 2015 Cavs vs. Warriers

 

The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors are set to play for the Larry O’Brien Trophy. LeBron James is in his fifth consecutive Finals while reigning as the League’s Most Valuable Player. Stephen Curry looks to lead the Warriors to their first title in 40 years. Both teams love to shoot the three ball and give all the statistical nerds who preach metrics plenty of fodder to persuade more executives in the league to go in this direction.

 

Golden State makes its name through their glamorous offense with the ‘Splash Brothers’ of Curry and Klay Thompson; however, their defense is smothering. Assistant Coach Alvin Gentry (who has just recently taken the head job in New Orleans) has done a great job leading this defense that utilizes Thompson as its perimeter defender, along with good athletes Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala on the wings. Andrew Bogut has been healthy during the postseason and is an above average defender when on the court, and though undersized, Draymond Green competes as hard as anyone on the glass. Both Bogut and Green have to be solid in keeping Tristin Thompson off the offensive glass.

 

As for Golden State’s offense, it’s an aerial assault of three-point shooting. Curry is so good he doesn’t even need space and, giving him open shots is not playing with fire, it’s lighting a match in a gas station – it’s going to be disastrous. Green can make his three-pointers as well stretch a defense. And, that doesn’t even mention Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes who hit threes with ease. If Golden State is hot and stays hot from behind the arc, it’s going to be very difficult for Cleveland.

 

The Cavaliers will rely heavily on Timofey Mosgov to carry the offensive burden. Got ya. Obviously, it’s going to be the LeBron James show all series long, especially with Kyrie Irving being questionable with his health. J.R. Smith can make three-pointers and will need to be making them consistently this series to keep Cleveland competitive from behind the line. Iman Shumpert can also make threes; however, he and Smith have shown from their Knick days that they can go cold which spells trouble for Cleveland. Tristin Thompson’s offensive glass prowess is an ‘X’ Factor in this series.

 

Shumpert is a good defender and look for him to carry much of the burden of chasing Curry. As good a defender as is LeBron James, he will have a significant challenge in Curry running off screens to get open shots. Matthew Dellavedova can be an irritant on defense (as shown in the Chicago series), so look for him to pester Curry as well. In the end, however, Cleveland doesn’t have enough, and LeBron will again be a Finals loser.

 

Golden State in Six Games.

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