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Completely Offensive

Cleveland Cavaliers 10-Game Recap

Chad W. Lutz
We’ve reached the 10-game plateau in our NBA schedule, which means around the league we’re beginning to see offenses gel, defenses solidify, and chemistry fall into place. But here in Cleveland, we’re seeing the opposite. With four minutes left in the fourth quarter of last night’s 86-80 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats at home, it was pretty obvious not a single Cleveland Cavalier wanted to be out on that floor. And I don’t blame them. After being hyped as one of the league’s most potentially exciting offenses in the off-season, the Wine and Gold have done everything possible to dispel that claim.

Let me tell you why the Cleveland Cavaliers will never win a Super Bowl.
…Oh, wait, this is basketball they’re playing? Damn. Well, you could’ve fooled me.

So far this year, things are looking pretty dismal. We’ve seen spotty individual performances and only rare glimpses of total team efforts, with the lone exception coming on opening night against the Brooklyn Nets. Teams that we were supposed to beat, we’ve lost to. Teams we weren’t supposed to beat, we overcame. But there seems to be a couple lacking elements, a catalyst, to bring everything together congealing into a well-tuned hoops machine.

As of November 16, the Cavs sit 12th in the league in points allowed per game (101.4). Before their ghastly loss to Minnesota on the road Wednesday to the tune of 125-94, the Cavaliers ranked 5th in the league in that category, giving up less than 96ppg through the first eight games. This is great! Awesome! Wonderful! Stupendous! Plagued by defensive woes last year, Cleveland has, for the most part, come out firing on all cylinders on the defensive end of the ball. But so are other teams when the Cavs have possession, and therein lays their real problems. Their problems are completely offensive (see what I did there?)

The Wine and Gold rank third to last in points scored in the league (91.5), and it goes without saying any team would be hard-pressed to win in the NBA scoring only 90 tallies in a single contest. Mike Brown’s defensive focus appears to be working, but perhaps a little too well. Back when LBJ was in town, it was hardly a secret that all you had to do was put the ball in the hands of #23 and the ball would generally find its way through the bucket. But for the current Wine and Gold squad to win, it will take more than an individual effort by any one player, even if that player craps gold bricks on the court. In the next ten games, Cleveland will either need to focus more on their own basket and maybe let up off the defensive throttle a bit or potentially find themselves on pace to win 24 games again this season, like they are right now.

Now, concentrate reeeal hard.
Is there anything you forgot to mention in practice? Anything at all?
:cough: offense :cough cough:
Though only ranking 15th among NBA teams in turnovers per 100 possessions (16 per contest), every time the Cavs turn the ball over it seems to happen at the most crucial times of each game. In the closing minutes of the game against Charlotte last night, Kyrie Irving coughed up three crucial possessions trying to do too much with the basketball and his team doing too little to help him out. On the season, Kyrie averages just that (3.3tpg). It happened in a loss against Charlotte the first time around, it happened in an earlier loss against Milwaukee, and it appears to be a continuing trend in close games. Although the young point guard posted a solid 18pts. and 10ast. last night, Irving also filled the stat sheet with 6 turnovers.

The silver linings to all of this offensive offensive (that’s no typo) mayhem? Tristan Thompson and C.J. Miles. Together, the duo combines for 24.1ppg on 45% shooting from the field and only gives up a collective 1.35 turnovers. Tristan alone averages 12.9ppg and 9.7rpg, while Miles pours in 11.2ppg, but from the bench and in only 20 minutes a contest. On the season, four Cavaliers, Irving, Miles, Dion Waiters, and Thompson, average 10 or more points per game, with Jarrett Jack nipping at their heels and contributing 9.5ppg, but in an average 5 more minutes than Miles.

What we can all take a big, deep breath and let out in a giant sigh of relief for is that the Cavs look healthy and energetic. Confused and lost on the offensive end of the ball? Yes, but healthy and energetic nonetheless. Anderson Varejao is slowly beginning to find his rhythms again, as is Andrew Bynum, who many were holding their breath whether he would even lace up this season, let alone step out onto the floor opening night and record 2 blocks, 3 rebounds, and 2 assists in 8 minutes. In his last game against the Bulls Nov. 9, Bynum got the start and responded in an encouraging way posting 11 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks in 21 minutes. If the big fella continues to improve throughout the season as his minutes increase, it will only bode good things to come. He’s just got to take care of those knees.

Dion Waiters has continued to improve as a scorer, but still has moments of pure streakiness that leave the rest of the offense stagnant and desired. He sits second on the team in scoring at just shy of 13.5ppg, behind Irving who gets 19.3 buckets a night. Earl Clark has shown versatility, both off the bench and as a starter, playing solid defense and contributing on the offensive end of the ball when given the chance. Almost lost in the midst of all of the changes to the Cavs roster this season is Alonzo Gee, who has been sharing the starting small forward role with Clark in the early onset. A part of me wonders if not naming Clark or Gee the regular starter has created backlash or animosity in the locker room that translates into lack of intensity on the court. Gee is only averaging 6 minutes less per game than his career average so far this season, but boasts half the number of points per contest than in previous years and is shooting roughly 10% less in field goal percentage.
“What's a guy gotta do to get some minutes around here?” (
Another great sign of things to come this season is the Cavaliers ability to share the basketball. Kyrie’s individual performances have him dishing out 1.3 more assists per game (7.2) than his career average of 5.8 dimes per contest. Kyrie Irving has also managed to play all 10 of the Cavaliers games so far this season (KNOCK ON WOOD). Through his first two seasons, Kyrie has only played in 74% of potential games. Let’s hope this newfound health and continuity lingers.

Last-10 Hero:
Kyrie 39/5/12 hits the game winner with .6 seconds left in a 2-point double OT win against Philadelphia 11/9

Last-10 Zero:
Jack 2/0/1 with 1 turnover on 0-6 shooting in 25 minutes in a 15-point loss against Chicago 11/11

Oh, and Omri Casspi, good fucking riddance to you, sir.