Tag Archives: cavs

2016 NBA PlayOffs: An Era Cut Short?

First, let’s go to the East Finals. Cleveland. Toronto. The Cavaliers are now on the brink of making it to the NBA Finals after smothering the Raptors by 38. Well, just as we guessed — those losses by Cleveland were simply to spice up our interest. But, unless one is naive then he certainly wouldn’t fall for it.

Look at the Raptors’ ‘star’ back court again?! Wow, another sorry performance! Can’t blame the bench if the stars themselves are ‘incapable’, you know.

The Toronto Raptors
Toronto Raptors: Just too much isolation

Anyway, let’s now move to the more interesting West Finals. OKC. Golden State. The Warriors may have staved off elimination today but could they really slow down the rampaging Thunder? Hmm… When OKC eliminated San Antonio, we already felt that it wouldn’t even be a surprise if they became this year’s NBA Champion. They’ve matured a lot.

After initially making it to the Finals back in 2012, they solidified their status as a ‘dangerous’ contender, year-in year-out. But as we know, not only did they lose James Harden but they were also beset by numerous injuries.. And so, here we are today.

OKC fab four (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKCs fab four of 2012 (Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE)

On the other hand, we’ve seen the rise of Golden State to the elite team that they are now.. But are we also just about to see the ‘end of a dynasty’ when they barely just begun?

This is really why the 1996 Chicago Bulls are still the best team in NBA history even if the Warriors eclipsed their 72-win record. The Bulls made it with all those ‘hard fouls’ and basically blew out their opponents while the Warriors, well..

Is 'small ball' coming to an end?
Is ‘small ball’ coming to an end?

Small ball may have been good while it lasted. In the end, you need consistency especially if you can’t control the boards, and if you can’t really protect the rim every night — would you just hope for a poor shooting performance by your opponent?

Now, doubts continue as this could already be ‘an era cut short’..

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2016 NBA West Finals G1: OKC surprises GSW??

Being the champs, having the MVP and a spectacular record-breaking season — a loss by the Golden State Warriors to ‘any team’ not named the San Antonio Spurs would immediately be called a ‘surprise’. Yeah, San Antonio is already out of it, but there’s still no denying that they’re the ones that could have sent the Warriors fishing if they battled in a series.

Still, there’s a team other than the Spurs that could beat them — and it’s no other than the Oklahoma City Thunder. Hey, they defeated the Spurs after all! So, this could be OKCs year as although Golden State is favored, they’re actually playing a team with similar styles — of course, with different strengths as their focus.

OKC 108, GSW 102 OKC Leads 1-0 

Thunders' time to be Champs (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)
OKC: It’s their time (Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images)

The stats are pretty equal actually; even as the Warriors didn’t really shoot well from 3s. So, the key? Rebounding and free throws. The Thunder had more rebounds, 52-44; and more free throws, converting 22-32 compared to 11-17 for GSW. The Warriors led pretty much of the game until OKC caught up. Thanks to an aggressive Russell Westbrook.

While the Spurs got beaten by OKC big men Adams and Kanter, this series would be defined as the battle between the attacking game of Westbrook versus Stephen Curry’s long bombs.

Who’ll end in the Finals would depend on who adjusts better.

EAST FINALS: Cleveland Cavaliers v Toronto Raptors

Either way, the Cavs would have still been favored to make the NBA Finals. Heat or Raptors. For the Miami Heat, they were just pretty inconsistent in the series. Although Wade has been carrying the team, there are games when he just wasn’t that aggressive plus add the poor shooting of Joe Johnson — and what do you have? A loss. And don’t forget the absence of Chris Bosh! Otherwise, this series wouldn’t have even reached a Game 7!

Cav v Raptors: Are we just going through the motions?
Cavs v Raptors: Are we just going through the motions?

So, Toronto was just plain lucky. While many have now proclaimed that DeMar DeRozan has gotten out of his ‘funk’, well, it’s not really a funk that he’s into. He really has a hard time scoring in the PlayOffs — zeroing-in defenders are just bigger and more aggressive — it’s just that he only had a good Game 6. That’s it. In Game 7, t’was Lowry shooting 11-20 from the field and 5-7 from 3s for an efficient 35 points. DeRozan, 28 points on 12-29 field goals, oh, that’s just too many shots! And less than 1 point per attempt! Hah! So in all, 2 good games for Lowry, 1 for DeRozan.

Now this would be the ‘real’ surprise — if the Raptors beat the Cavs.

As for the Oklahoma City Thunder.. It wouldn’t even surprise us if they make the NBA Finals and win! It’s probably their time now..

2015 NBA Weekly: 5-year Multi-million Dollar Deal for Tristan

Finally! Yes, finally there’s a deal between the Cavs and Tristan Thompson. For a while, many thought that Tristan could be sitting out this coming season, or at least be taking that qualifying offer; but then, how could that be? The Cavs would just be like letting go of an important piece in their Finals campaign last season if so..

And so, we got a deal. Looking back, it appears that the Cavs were just trying to soften the price of Tristan but to no avail — the shoe has been on the other side since, and with that, the Cavs has gone to a ‘desperate’ mode as the regular season is just about to start.

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But many asks.. Is the price just too steep? And what would Cleveland actually get out of one of the highest paid power forwards in the league now? And just a backup at that! Well looking closely, this is just something like a ‘psychological’ thing, you know. Like knowing one of your key guys was retained would be good for the rest of the team, yup, in terms of motivating them. See?

Still price is not an issue if only for Tristan.. Yet fact is, the Cleveland organization just approved deals close to $200M on two power forwards, wow! While one helped and showed his worth in last season’s Finals, the other one is just banking on his name. So, should we expect some trades before the deadline, or are we seeing the last of this lineup? Just imagine the taxes! Hmm… For the Cavs sake, hopefully, it would turn out well.
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As it is, injuries just seems to continue to hound Cleveland making Tristan more indispensable — though this time, the Cavs should be more prepared as things really happened even before the regular season would start..

Now start it is! And just about time to get those rebounds!

2015 NBA Weekly: RFA Tristan Thompson

There hasn’t been much fanfare these days in the NBA as basketball has shifted to preparations for the 2016 Olympics or FIBA games around the world. Otherwise, many of the stars are just about to wrap up their vacation, and this time get ready for training camp.

Oh, training camp?! And Tristan Thompson has yet to be renewed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. So, what are they waiting for? Their taxes won’t really go down by just passing time, you know; besides, they already spent so much during the initial stages of free agency.

So why not open up talks again or just let Tristan go?

Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert (Photo: Unsportsmanlike Conduct)
Cavs Owner Dan Gilbert (Photo: Unsportsmanlike Conduct)

See, with what’s happening now, the Cavs are like just holding Tristan hostage since he’s an RFA or restricted free agent.

Hey, we all know that Tristan has been one of those bright spots for the Cavs especially in last season’s PlayOffs — and this is not how you treat your players especially one with that kind of talent.

But if owner Dan Gilbert is just worried of luxury taxes then, at least, just extend a qualifying offer to Tristan — get over this and unshackle his chains for next year.

The thing here is that the Cavs failed to plan things out and just got lost in trying to please LeBron James — err, Kevin Love. And so, they signed him to a max deal and gave Iman Shumpert a huge contract without thinking of what’d happen next.

Yet what did Kevin Love actually do?

Cleveland made the Finals without him. Still, if the Cavs believe Love is more valuable than Tristan — then let Tristan go since they can’t give him his max contract anyway.

Agent Rich Paul, Tristan Thompson and LeBron James (Photo: NY Post)
Agent Rich Paul, Tristan and LeBron (Photo: NY Post)

Delaying things would only create a bigger gap between the Cavs and Tristan — even a grudge. And obviously, agent Rich Paul isn’t doing his job to bridge things.

Now, if Dan Gilbert was just mainly concerned of pleasing LeBron in his signing of players then he should have asked LeBron to sit with him in every negotiation with the Cavs. Surely Dan knows LeBron likes Tristan. So?

Oh well..

Don’t you think this is just getting kinda sick? Let’s just then wait for the last minute. Tristan is going nowhere. And Dan Gilbert knows it.

2015 NBA Weekly: The Cavs and The Kyrie Irving Effect

Okay, guess you must have heard it already — Cleveland’s All-Star point guard, Kyrie Irving, could be missing more time like up until January 2016. Yes, what was thought to be a 4-month recovery from a knee fracture surgery has now actually put a question mark on Uncle Drew’s durability as a player.

Hmm… looking back, Kyrie’s got some history when it comes to injuries. So, is his body starting to actually breakdown?

Kyrie Irving (Photo: SB Nation)
Kyrie Irving (Photo: SB Nation)

Well, perhaps if he could stay healthy for at least 2 straight years (upon his return to action) then this knee injury ‘could’ be his last severe case. Otherwise, Kyrie could be another Brandon Roy-in-the-making — a wasted potential. Oh boy..

In the meantime, would Kyrie’s absence affect the Cavaliers run for the 2016 Finals? Well, not if the Bulls can help it. Then again, the Cavs even got Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson this time. Besides, going deep into the PlayOffs is really more than just about talent — more than about the system — it’s really about mentality.

If you think you’ll lose, then you’d most probably lose; if you think you’d win, then you’d most likely win. Effort goes with what you believe you can do, and talent simply helps the system (or your body) succeed.

Thus, being the ‘acknowledged’ leader of the Cavs, if LeBron thinks they’re ‘unlucky’ to be ‘undermanned’ (??) then that would just be a drag for the team as they’d likely play ‘with chains on their ankles’. Can’t think of something without paying the price, you know.

Photo: Fox Sports
Photo: FOX Sports

With Kyrie’s absence, LeBron has to forget excuses and just play team ball — not hug the ball ’cause he thinks they lack talent (??) — not blame the cosmos for their losses like in their most recent NBA Finals campaign. Otherwise, people could also say the Heat were just ‘lucky’ to win the 2013 NBA Championship on Ray Allen’s corner 3. That means, cancelling the Cavs’ 2015 loss and the Heat’s 2013 win would make James’ Finals success rate down to 25% or 1 out of 4 — instead of 33% or 2 out of 6. Would you like that?

Again, as the Cavs’ ‘acknowledged’ leader, LeBron James simply has to learn to be accountable — not hope for the league’s analysts and writers to keep saving his face. ‘Cause he did have help last June, Smith especially just didn’t knock down his shots. More so, the Cavs’ just didn’t use Marion and Miller — Why? Then you’ll say you’re ‘undermanned’?? See, now they even got Mo and Jefferson who’s incidentally about as old as Marion and Miller.. They’re good though.

That’s why the Cavs’ can’t just only trust their so-called ‘Big Three’. They got a good team — since last season — actually. They just got to trust the players they sign up and let them earn their keep.

NBA Flashback: The One-Superstar Champions

While NBA fans are still relishing the recent Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, we were actually surprised by the statement of LeBron James that he couldn’t remember a team that made it to an NBA Finals without their 2 All-Stars..

And he’s not only a student but a historian of the game, at that. Or did we just get him wrong?

Then again, can’t a team make it with just One star? Guess James was just emotional with their loss and it’s understandable.. But it just sounds indifferent, like 4, 5 years ago when he said ‘…not just one, two, three, four, five championships and so on’, remember?

This then gives us a clue to the most recent One-star team that made it to and through the PlayOffs, and even became Champions..

Remember a guy named Dirk Nowitzki and the 2011 NBA Champions, the Dallas Mavericks? Their Finals opponent was even against a 3 superstar-led team in the Miami Heat. Guess who was one of those superstars?

LeBron James.

2011 NBA Finals: Mavs vs Heat
2011 NBA Finals: Mavs vs Heat

Nowitzki only had Chandler, Marion, Stevenson, 38-year-old Jason Kidd, and himself as starters for the Mavs; with Terry, Cardinal, Mahinmi, Barea, et cetera coming off the bench.

Now, what can you say? The Mavs basically had only One star in Dirk Nowitzki, not to mention, they’re even an old team.

So no excuses, please. The Cavs’ loss was not with a “last second” shot that they could say the Warriors were just lucky; besides, injuries are just part of the game that with a good system, they could have adjusted and really used their bench. Unless if it were James himself who got injured and couldn’t play like Varejao and the others – only then could the Cavs say the Warriors were lucky. Same goes if it were Curry himself who got injured. Got the point? Not the main men. So see, Varejao is irrelevant. They wouldn’t have gotten a better center in Mozgov if Varejao didn’t get injured. Kevin Love is also irrelevant. They wouldn’t have gotten to the Finals if they really needed Love. Come to think of it, the acquisition of Mozgov, Smith and Shumpert was more of luck, and clearly, more than makes up for any need in talent.

However, Kyrie Irving was crucial. The Cavs made it to the Finals with him. Then again, they wouldn’t have discovered Dely if Kyrie were playing. Still, game dynamics would change if Irving were around. Kyrie is an offensive guy, this means Curry’s struggles against Dely would not really happen. Result? Curry would have erupted the whole series. Warriors still wins. See?

The fate, good and not so good, of the Cavs this 2015 season was really due to:

First. They’re playing in the “weak” East, so even with just One-star, they could make the Finals – No Big Deal. Good for them. What’s admirable is the Atlanta Hawks. Yes, they got 4 All-Stars but their selection was just a result of a good system. Meaning, they topped the East not because these 4 were really All-Stars per se (as in like regulars) but because of their coaching system. Got the point?

Hey! With healthy lineups from both sides, Hawks and Cavs, we don’t think the Hawks could beat the Cavs in a series. A good system still needs at least One star to win (until Coach Budenholzer could prove us wrong) which brings us to the..

Second point. Good system.

Mavs and Coach Rick Carlisle in a huddle
Mavs and Coach Rick Carlisle in a huddle

See the difference between the 2011 Mavericks and the 2015 Cavaliers? System. The Mavs simply trusts their players while the Cavs just looks for James to feed them when they actually got a good team even without their 2 other All-Stars.. But then blames being “tired and undermanned” for losing when it’s the coach’s decision not to use other players and just let James do as he pleases. Yet many are even amazed by LeBron’s numbers? Isn’t that expected with Coach Blatt’s system? That’s why in 2011, even DeShawn Stevenson of the champion Mavericks said LeBron is just overrated..

But of course James is good, he’s like a Charles Barkley in fact. And we’re not trying to be hard on James here or what. We’re just talking of facts. Setting things straight. And the 2011 Mavs are just the most recent One-star champions.. That the Cavs actually had a chance for a sort of similar “eliteness” if not for their system and, well, whining?

Lone Star Dirk Nowitzki hoisting the Championship trophy with the Mavs
Lone Star Dirk Nowitzki hoisting the Championship trophy with the Mavs

How about another One-star championship team? The 1994 Houston Rockets. See?

Now you remember.

2015 NBA Finals: Were the Warriors just Lucky?

Game over.. 105-97.. Warriors 4, Cavs 2. The Golden State Warriors are now the 2015 NBA Champions, their first in 40 years!

But wait, what is this we hear from some parts of the basketball world? That the Warriors are just lucky ’cause they didn’t really have any injuries? Well, such emotions are understandable. But lucky against a “tired and undermanned” Cavs? Oh, change the channel..

Let’s then take a look at the whole picture as deeply as we could to see more than just the protagonists.. And see who’s really lucky.

The Warriors finished with the league’s best regular season record, 67-15. And credit a good system for topping a tough Western Conference going into the playoffs. They swept the inexperienced Pelicans led by the talented Anthony Davis, 4-0 in the first round. So yes, they were lucky somehow..

But hey, they earned their luck as the top seed.

More lucky is the fact that it’s not the Thunder that took the 8th seed as OKC struggled mostly without injured superstar Kevin Durant; and at times, without premier defender Serge Ibaka and the explosive Russell Westbrook. Otherwise, the standings would not have been what it is. Or if Durant caught the late bus, imagine what the Warriors would have to go through if they faced a healthy Thunder squad.. The series could have went the distance.

West Semis. Golden State faced a classic grit and grind squad in the Grizzlies – falling 1-2 in the first 3 games before finishing them off, 4-2. The Grizzlies here just lacked shooters to keep up with Golden State, but is it the Warriors’ fault? Lucky again.

West Finals. Yes, here we see the Warriors were indeed lucky as their Finals opponent (Houston Rockets) came from the bracket of teams that could beat them (especially any Eastern team in the Finals) in a series – the Mavs, the Clippers which had to go through 2 game 7s, and the defending champion Spurs. The Rockets basically just relied on Harden for offense despite being a talented team, so they also have a coaching system issue like the Cavs – still, their ‘never-give-up’ attitude should be praised in overcoming a 1-3 deficit against a powerful Clippers team enroute to the West Finals.

So yes, the Warriors were lucky as the Rockets cleared the tough Western field for them – but it’s not like those 3 said teams were blaming injuries or curses as a fan’s placard “playfully” suggested in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. Yet why then weren’t the Rockets able to beat the Warriors? Again, it’s the system.

Eastern Conference

Everyone knows the East is weak, so any good Eastern squad basically has one foot in the Finals. And being the second seed in the East, the Cavs had the luxury of facing a groping Celtics team led by their only threat in 5’9″ Isaiah Thomas in the first round.

Result? 4-0 Cavs. This was when Cleveland lost Kevin Love on a dislocated shoulder.

East Semis. Without Love, were the Cavs then at a disadvantage against a contender like the Bulls? Not really. Game dynamics would change if Love were around against Pau Gasol, but he wouldn’t have stopped Pau; and it’s the Bulls who would have advanced despite a still reconditioning Derrick Rose. Then again, Love’s absence gave an opportunity for Thompson to play more and help defend Gasol better until Pau couldn’t really play with his injured hamstring.

Result? Cavs 4-2. So, like the Warriors, luck has actually smiled at the Cavs several times this season as well.

First. If Varejao didn’t get injured, they wouldn’t have thought of getting the bigger, stronger and more talented Mozgov. That’s luck! This then included a trading spree which brought in Smith and Shumpert to the Cavs while shipping Waiters to OKC – now, they got an even better squad which the league and observers took notice. And not until the NBA Finals did many “analysts” say that the Cavs actually lacked talent. Whoa, why lacking in talent when they even acknowledged the strength of the squad? It’s the Finals, no time to cry.. Injuries or DNPs are different from a last second shot.

Second. If Chris Bosh didn’t have health problems, it could have been the Heat in the Finals – what with the acquisition of Dragic and the improvement of Whiteside! Bosh is just much more valuable for Miami as Gasol is to the Bulls than Love is for Cleveland.

And if Irving didn’t get injured, the Cavs wouldn’t have discovered a two-way gem in Matthew Dellavedova. Yes, they get more offense with Irving and though the game’s dynamics would change, it would still result in a Warriors’ championship. Golden State simply adjusts well.. Unless, Steve Kerr really felt that they were just lucky against the ‘injured’ Cavs then they were, in the first place, lucky to be in the NBA Finals itself.

Now, the Cavaliers being “tired and undermanned” is their choice. It’s the Finals, no time to cry! Just look at the stat sheet and their roster. Do they only have 7, 8 players? Didn’t you notice how many “DNP – Coach’s Decision” were in the list? Uhm, at least Haywood looked good in his headband.. See? Coach’s decision.

And don’t forget the East Finals. T’was the Cavs against a superstar-less squad in the Hawks – who eventually played without key players like their All-Star shooter Kyle Korver. Yet did analysts even feel sorry for the “less-talented” Hawks? No, but only for the Cavs who lost in the Finals. People never even thought how lucky the Cavs were to face their 2nd “star-less” opponent (in the Eastern playoffs?!) – that their only challenges would have really been from the Heat and the Bulls if not for injuries. The East is just too weak. Incidentally, the Hawks had the East’s best record, a testament of what a good system could do despite being “less talented.”

While LeBron James’ effort is commendable, he just had to carry the Cavs because the team’s system doesn’t trust its players enough to even play. Why did the Cavs sign them up, anyway? For scrub time? Practice? Or, cheering purposes? Well..

For a thinking analyst or fan, this then sort of diminishes (fact is, the Cavs even lost to a first-timer) whatever James displayed as “his numbers were expected” given the playing time and freedom he has to even force anything without reprimands. After all, he’s the remaining superstar of the team entering Game 2. It was a gallant stand by the Cavaliers though as they played through a ‘questionable’ system..

Now, who’s really lucky?? You should know. It’s been a magical 2015 season, and the Warriors deserves all the credit.