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It's Finally Over

Apr 18, 2014 -- 11:29am

By Greg Brinda | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

The best thing about the Cavs season is that it is now over.

This team frustrated us from day one and it didn't stop until the final seconds ticked off the clock against the Nets. What went wrong has been chronicled all season long by everybody.

This is what I know. The team took a very long time to buy into Mike Brown. At times, early on and even late, the team just went through the motions and didn't compete. Kyrie Irving didn't mature, didn't lead and most importantly showed minimal progress as a player. Dion Waiters did grow as a player but at time whined and showed selfishness. Anderson Verajao competed hard every night but once again couldn't stay healthy. Luol Deng added a little but either was hurt or showed signs of advanced NBA aging as the season wore on. Jarrett Jack just played well in spurts but fell way short of anticipated expectations.

Statistically the team got better defensively but got only slightly better offensively.

In the end, though, the record tells the story about what you are. 33-49, 16 games under 500 is all you need to know.

Missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season post LeBron is all you need to know. That is unacceptable. It's unacceptable to sports fans who care about winning. That unfortunately is not what the NBA or Cavs fans are all about.

As I have said before, the NBA has mastered the perception that winning is secondary to putting on a good show and having a marketable player. Give the fans a star and give them free stuff and you got them hooked.

And it's has worked.

Cavs fans showed up to watch a bad team. Cavs fans showed up to watch Kyrie. And remarkably all that's bad didn't seem to phase them.

Right now the team is no closer to winning an NBA Championship than the day LeBron left.

There is no leader on this team. There are not enough great and good players. And who is convinced Mike Brown can lead these guys to the Promised Land?

Too many questions for the Cavs this off-season. There are very few answers.

But as long as the team gives away free stuff. And as long as Kyrie decides this is the place he wants to be, the majority of fans will be satisfied.

The bar is set really low here. But that's how most of you like it.

 

 

 

 

Words in Gilbert's infamous Letter haunt him now

Apr 17, 2014 -- 7:45am

By Bruce Hooley | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

Maybe Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert ought to write a letter to himself.

That would be interesting.

I wonder if Gilbert would wonder why the “previously unknown and previously never experienced level” of motivation he promised would fuel the Cavs’ post-LeBron James rebuild instead has Gilbert’s franchise anchored to the NBA lottery.

Oh, but why hold Dan accountable?

He’s a man of the people, right?

After all, the Cavs not only closed the regular season with a 114-85 victory over the Brooklyn Nets, but a few fans won some glitzy prizes and everybody walked away with another nice T-shirt.

Too bad it didn’t feature Gilbert’s picture with the caption: “My bad.”

Let’s be fair and give Gilbert a pass for the 19-63 debacle of 2010-11 after James left town.

Since starting the Cavaliers’ full-bore rebuild the following season, all that “energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience” Gilbert promised the night of The Decision would “be directed at one thing and one thing only,”…it’s brought the Cavs all of 78 wins over three seasons.

That ties Sacramento for the second-lowest victory total in the NBA since that time, ranking behind only Charlotte’s 70 wins over the same span.

The Bobcats, however, have progressed from 7-59 to 21-61 to 43-39 and the playoffs.

Try wrapping your head around the mind-bending notion that Michael Jordan has guided his franchise from oblivion to above-.500 and the playoffs, while the Cavs remain rooted in purgatory.

That “new and much brighter day” Gilbert envisioned? It’s resulted in a halting ascent from 21-45 in 2011-12, to 24-58 last year to 33-49 this season.

What’s the hurry, Dan?

I thought Cavs’ fans didn’t “deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal?”

Four years into their journey toward that championship “you have long deserved and is long overdue,” Gilbert’s roster is a grease fire crying out for a gasoline shower.

Who, exactly, are the cornerstones of this franchise that fans can absolutely, positively, unequivocally count on as givens going forward into 2015?

Kyrie Irving?

Please, he’s had ample chances to promise he’ll sign the max contract the Cavs plan to place in front of him this summer and he begs off every time.

Dion Waiters?

Really, a guy who can’t get along with Irving, dominates the ball just as much and pouts about his role as often as he embraces it?

Tristan Thompson?

Are you ready to pay him the $10-$12 million per-year he’ll want in a multi-year deal after his rookie contract expires at the end of next season?

Lual Deng and Spencer Hawes are free agents racing to hire the best moving companies in town.

So, the surest bets to be back next season are Anthony Bennett and Sergey Karasev – disappointing first-round picks from last season, locked in by guaranteed contracts -- and Jarrett Jack, who’s still owed more than $12 million over the next two seasons.

We can thank “the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal and driven staff over here at your hometown Cleveland Cavaliers” for taking four entire seasons to produce that Bennett-Karasev-Jack nucleus on which to rely.

Nevertheless, you’re supposed to, “Sleep well, Cleveland,” and, “Just watch,” because all Gilbert needs to make the good times roll is a third No. 1 overall pick, or maybe a fifth head coach, or perhaps a fourth different GM on his ownership watch.

Unfortunately, as you once wrote, Dan, “That’s simply not how it works.”

 

Bruce Hooley hosts "Hooley & Jerod" from 3-6 p.m. weekdays on ESPN 850 WKNR. He is the author of, “That’s Why I’m Here: The Chris and Stefanie Spielman Story.”

Email Bruce hoolz@espncleveland.com

Follow Bruce on Twitter @bhoolz

 

 

 

Cavs finish season with losing record, miss playoffs for fourth straight year

Apr 17, 2014 -- 1:01am

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/ Getty

The Cavs won their last game of the season, 114-85 over the Nets at the Q, however they finish their fourth straight season with a losing record and a trip without the playoffs.
 
Fast Break
  • The Cavs were without Loul Deng (back) and Scotty Hopson (ankle). C. J. Miles and Anderson Varejao did not play in Wednesday’s game due to the decision of the Cavs head coach Mike Brown.
  • The Nets rested all of their starters, while playing seven players overall in Wednesday night’s matchup.
  • The Cavaliers Tyler Zeller had a double-double, he led all scorers with 22 points.
  • Cavs finish the season 33-49 overall missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
Twitter question of the night #KNRCavs
 
MVP of the Game – Tyler Zeller finished Wednesday night with 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting along with 11 rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 27 minuets. Compared to his rookie season, Zeller improved his shooting percentages from almost every zone. Overall it was a solid outing for Zeller against a team that only started seven guys.
 
Kyrie Irving and Extensions Talks – The Cavs will offer Kyrie Irving a max contract in July, its just whether he will sign the extension.
 
“Obviously, I’m aware I can be extended this summer,” Irving said “It’s a big deal for me if they do offer me that. It will be exciting. I’ll make the best decision for me and my family. That’s what it will boil down to.”
 
Irving can sign a full five years or he could ask for an opt-out after three. He could even reject the deal altogether. No player on a rookie deal has ever rejected an extension altogether, so the magnitude of him doing so could be huge.
 
Decision to Make – Now that the Cavs' season is over, owner Dan Gilbert has many decisions to make. For example what’s the status on head coach Mike Brown? The overall disappointment of this season and not making the playoffs really has to bother Gilbert, but is he willing to be embarassed if he elects to fire Brown, after he's done so before?
 
Before last season, Brown signed a five-year $20 million contract. In Brown’s seven-year head coaching career, he had never once missed the playoffs until this season or had a losing season. Despite the Cavs missing the playoffs there were improvements in certain areas. For example the team improved their win total from 24 wins last season to 33 this season, however it was still not good enough to qualify for the post season. 
 
"It’s (Gilbert’s) team,” Brown said. “Whatever decision he makes, I’m going to support him.”
 
Defensively the Wine and Gold improved, finishing this season with a 12th ranked defensive field goal percentage, compared to being dead last the previous season. The post defense has never been there all season and the perimeter defense has been atrocious. However when you think about it, it’s pretty impressive that Brown coached this team close to a top-ten defense, considering there’s not one defender that really stands out besides Loul Deng and Matthew Dellavedova.
 
Meanwhile, Gilbert also has another decision to make on top of keeping or letting go his head coach. What will he do at the general manager position? Since the firing of former GM Chris Grant, the Cavaliers were 17-16 under interim GM David Griffin. Before he took over in early February, the team was 16-33.
 
Anthony Bennett’s Season – It was an up and down rookie season for Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Bennett entered Wednesday night averaging 4.1 points per game along with 2.9 rebounds, certainly the kind of season that the No. 1 overall pick should not be having. 
 
“Obviously, I could have been a lot better,” Bennett said. “I’ve just got to be prepared for next season and get prepared throughout the summer.”
 
Pulling in the Hardware – Before Wednesday nights game, Jarrett Jack was presented with the Austin Carr Good Guy award, while Deng received the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Award.
 
The Austin Carr Good Guy award was voted on by the local chapter of the Pro Basketball Writers Association, which is given annually to the player most cooperative with the media. Deng’s award was for his work in South Sudan and his community service work in Chicago and Cleveland.
 
In the House – The Browns were well-represented Wednesday night. Joe Thomas, Josh Gordon, Joe Haden, and Jordan Cameron, just to name a few, were in attendance for the Cavs last game of the season. Former Indians Joe Charboneau and Len Baker were also present, along with Bobby Massey, former band member of the O'Jays.
 
Worth Quoting – “I’ve been a part of this, and I want to continue to be part of this. We’ve made some strides in the right direction, especially as an organization. I want to be part of something special. I don’t have definitive answer to that right now.” – Cavs’ Kyrie Irving
 
Up Next – NBA Draft lottery May 20. 
 
 

 

Cavs lose second straight in embarrassing fashion

Apr 13, 2014 -- 12:06am

By Emmett Golden | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

There was a good crowd on hand at the Q for one of the last home games this season. Having not covered a game in about a month I was excited to see if this Cavalier team could finish the season strong. Boy was I disappointed. It looked like the season was over for many of the players in Wine and Gold jerseys. They lost to the Celtics 111-99. The game wasn't as close as the final score made it look.

#KNRCavs– I asked Cavs fans on Twitter, who they thought was the MVP of the team this season. There was some great responses, here are a few of the best.

 

 

 

 

Slow Start– Cavs center Spencer Hawes hit a three for the first shot of the game. After that they struggled to put the ball in the basket. They finished the first quarter shooting only 25%. After the Hawes three the team only scored 15 points.

Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson lead the team with four points apiece. All of Irving’s points coming from the free throw line. He picked it up a little bit in the second quarter to finish the half with 13 but he was 3-10 from the floor. Irving finished the game with 15 points. He wasn’t available for comment following the game. I’ll get into that later in my blog.

Not Falling– Dion Waiters had a tough start to the night. He began the game 0-5 from the floor. Four of his first five shots were jump shots. His first point came from the free throw line with 8:39 left in the half. He finished the half shooting 3-10 for 8 of his 15 points. Waiters attacked the basket more in the second. It was too little too late. 

“What I continue to preach to those two guys (Waiters and Irving) is drive the ball, get off of it,” said Cavs' head coach Mike Brown. “When you do that there’s a certain rhythm to the game and you can generate a lot of offense for everyone on the floor.”

Is It Over Yet?– The energy in this team left a lot to be desired. There were lazy passes and a lack of boxing out. It didn’t look like the Cavs big men were locked in at all. The Celtics center Kelly Olynyk dominated the Wine and Gold bigs. He finished the first half with 20 of his 25 points.

The Celtic finished the first half with an 18 point lead. They started the second half with a 7-0 run that prompted a quick timeout from Brown. Boston only had 8 healthy players for the game. At one point in the game the Cavs trailed the Celtics by 31 points. Brown was asked if guys have quit.

“I don’t know.” Said Brown. “When you watch us play we don’t look like we’re playing to get better. It looks like we’re playing, just going through the motions.”

Where They At?– After the game as the media filed in to the locker room Irving was walking out. Which was weird because he knows the media would like to ask him questions so they can use his quotes in their stories. Then I heard someone say “Hey Dion, you got a second before you get out of here?” He responded, “Nope.”

After I left the locker room to pack up for the night I saw Irving hanging out in the hallways of the Q talking and laughing with a few of his friends. He didn’t look like he was in a rush.

I’m sorry but leaving without talking to the media after a bad game is weak. I know people will say that I only care because it affects me and makes my job harder. That’s not true. My boss will not be upset with me at all and the fact that they didn’t talk helped me finish sooner than I normally would.

 It affects you the reader. The people who buy tickets and jerseys. The people that stick up for Irving and Waiters when someone says something negative about them in an article or on the radio. Don’t you want to know what they have to say?

These are the two players that fans look at as the leaders of this team. Spencer Hawes, you know, the guy that has only been here for a few months? He stood up and answered the tough questions.  I gained some respect for him after the game and lost a little for the “leaders” of this team.  

 

 

Cavs eliminated from playoffs despite thumping Pistons

Apr 09, 2014 -- 12:07am

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/AP

The Cavs did their part Wednesday night beating the Pistons, 122-100 at Quicken Loans arena, but were eliminated from the playoff hunt.
 
Fast Break
  • Cavs’ C.J. Miles was out (ankle sprain) Wednesday night, along with Anthony Bennett (patellar tendon strain) and Carrick Felix (ankle sprain).
  • The Pistons were without Josh Smith (patella tendinitis) who was a game-time decision Wednesday night. Chuancey Billups was out (knee surgery) along with Will Bynum (sore foot) and Josh Harrellson (knee).
  • The Cavs were officially eliminated from the Eastern Conference playoff race Wednesday night, when Atlanta beat Boston 105-97.
  • Cavs’ Dion Waiters lead all scores with 22 points. He also had eight assists.
  • The Cavs recorded a season high 41 assists and claimed a franchise record 26 assists in the first half Wednesday nights.
  • With Wednesday nights win over Detroit, Cavaliers’ head coach Mike Brown is now tied with Bill Fitch for the second-most wins in franchise history with 304. 
Twitter Question of the Night #KNRCavs
MVP of the Game – Matthew Dellavedova once again turned out a solid performance, as he recorded his third double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 assists. In three games against the Pistons before Wednesday night’s game, Dellavedova was averaging 11.7 points per game on 64 percent (11-for-17) shooting. He also was shooting 75 percent (6-of-8) from behind the arc and averaging 4.7 assists per game.
 
The Cavs rookie class of Anthony Bennett, Sergey Karasev and Carrick Felix may all be major disappointments. However it’s Dellavedova, the guy who wasn’t even drafted, who’s shined out of all of them. If there’s any way of looking at the glass half full it’s in that perspective.
 
Playoff Elimination – From the start the Cavs should have never been in the position to be fighting for the final playoff spot or even being eliminated from the race. Instead they should have been gearing up for the playoffs, securing the seventh or sixth seed, but things don’t always go as planned. 
 
“We put ourselves in this hole,” said Cavs head coach Mike Brown. “I wish we could have a couple of those games back from early on. I can’t fault anybody but ourselves.”
 
The Cavs should have been a team this season at .500 or just a tad over that number. Instead, things just seemed to click a little to late for the Cavs down the stretch. Having a horrendous record of 4-12 early on in the season in the month of November didn’t help. Losing to teams such as the Bucks, 76ers and Celtics, all teams fighting for that coveted number one pick in the NBA Draft Lottery also didn’t help.
 
Like the Pistons, the Cavaliers expected to make the playoffs this season. These were two teams who had been stuck in rebuilding mode, while reconstructing through the draft for the past couple of seasons. Detroit spent money in free agency signing Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings, while the Cavs signed Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark and Andrew Bynum. None of this worked, instead the two franchises let their fan base down and are headed back to the draft lottery sweepstakes, once again.
 
The Frontcourt – Usually going into each game there’s a matchup that stands out the most from others. On Wednesday the matchup between the Pistons’ and the Cavs’ frontcourt stood out. Entering this game it seemed Detroit had the advantage, however the trio of Spencer Hawes, Tyler Zeller and Anderson Varejao dominated the paint and the glass. The three combined to score 44 points on 27 shots, while hauling in 26 rebounds.
 
Final Thought – It was all Cavs from start to finish Wednesday night. The Pistons really didn’t seem to have a chance, nor did they seem interested to play this game. Hawes started things off with 13 points in the first eight minuets of the game, building a 10-point lead that stayed in double-digits for the rest of the game.
 
The ball movement and spacing by the Cavaliers was superb. They had a franchise record 26 assists in the first half alone, while finishing the game with 41. This is the type of performance by the offense that Brown has been preaching and looking for all season. The ball swung from side to side instead of sticking on one side, and every Cavalier except for Alonzo Gee who scored, shot over or at least 50 percent from the field.
 
Overall it was a complete game both offensively and defensively by the Cavaliers against a disinterested Pistons team, but it’s the elimination from the playoff race that hurts. Like Brown and Irving said in their post game interviews, you wish you could have a few games back. The only problem is what’s done is done, and for the Cavs they’re done until next season.
 
Worth Quoting – “It’s an empty feeling. You think about the things you could have done or should have done. It’s inevitable, especially as big a competitor as I am. It’s definitely going to be on my mind.”– Cavs’ Kyrie Irving on being eliminated from the playoff race
 
Up Next – The Cavs will hit the road Friday for one final time this season. Tip-off against the Milwaukee Bucks is set for 8:30 p.m.
 
 

 

Cavs fall in overtime, Irving scores career-high 44 points

Apr 06, 2014 -- 12:37am

By Chris Coon | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/Getty

Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 44 points on Saturday, however the Cavs fell to the Bobcats in overtime at the Q, 96-94.
 
Fast Break
  • Cavs C.J. Miles was out (sprained ankle) Saturday night, along with Anthony Bennett (patellar tendon strain) and Carrick Felix (ankle sprain).
  • The Bobcats were without Brendan Haywood (stress fracture, foot), Josh McRoberts (ankle sprain) and Jeffery Taylor (ruptured achilles tendon).
  • Cavs’ Kyrie Irving scored a career-high 44 points. He also had seven rebounds and eight assists.
  • Charlotte’s Al Jefferson had a double-double with 24 points and 15 rebounds.
  • With their win Saturday night over the Cavs, the Bobcats clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 2010.
Twitter question of the Night #KNRCavs
LVP of the Game – For the Cavs, everyone not named Kyrie Irving Struggled Saturday night. The Wine and Gold’s four starters were 12-of-43 from the field, shooting 27.9 percent. For the most part in the first half the Cavs had a lot of open looks but were unable to knock anything down. Outside of Irving, the only other Cavalier to score in double digits was Dion Waiters who had 14 points on 5-of-16 shooting. 
 
“Nobody could make a shot,” Cavs’ head coach Mike Brown said. “I thought the guys did a decent job of moving the ball and moving bodies, and we had some decent looks. The ball just didn’t go in.”
 
Career Night – Irving scored a career-high 44 points Saturday night, marking it his fifth-game in his career he’s scored 40 points or more. Irving seemed to play with some passion and anger, after being upset over comments made about him in an ESPN.com blog that said he wanted out of Cleveland. On top of Irving’s 44 points he also had seven rebounds, eight assists and three steals. 
 
Irving took 31 shots and knocked down 16 of them, but sometimes you have to wonder if he tries to do too much. Does he not trust his teammates? Or does Mike Brown want him taking that many shots? Despite Irving playing very well, he did miss a pivotal shot with 8.9 seconds left in overtime, missing a wide-open 3-point shot. If Irving makes that shot, the Cavs would have had a 94-93 lead.
 
Slip, Sliding, Away – The Cavs aren’t mathematically out of the playoffs, but the writing’s on the wall. With 3 ½ games behind New York and Atlanta, and four games remaining overall, it’s about close to being done. 
 
Looking back at this season, there’s a lot of disappointment. This was a season that Cavs’ majority owner Dan Gilbert said he expected his team to not miss the playoffs. He expected them to no longer be a lottery team, but all of that has yet to change.
The Bobcats on the other hand clinched a playoff birth for the first time since 2010. They weren’t expected to make the playoffs, instead they were believed to be in the hunt for one of the top picks in the lottery once again. However, Charlotte has played decent basketball this year, improving to 21 wins from last season.
 
Where Are You ?– Jarrett Jack in his last two games has been pretty much non existent since Irving has returned from his biceps injury. A lot of this has to do with the fact the he is now coming off the bench and not starting. The decrease in minuets is surely factored in, however in Jack’s last two games he’s scored a combined 14 points. He’s gone 5-of-21 from the field and shooting 23.8 percent. Jack is also shooting 1-of-7 from behind the arc, while only dishing out four total assists.
 
Jack Saturday night, had five points and was 1-of-8 from the field, with two assists and three personal fouls. Like many of the Cavaliers Saturday evening, shots were just not going down for Jack.
 
Final Thought – Offensively, this game started out horrible. Both teams at the end of the first half were shooting under 40 percent and it was a 40-33 game. If it weren’t for Irving, the Cavaliers would have never been in this game. Brown even made the comment that there were a few Cavaliers through out the game, who seemed to lack a sense of urgency. For the most part this was a game that displayed why the Cavaliers aren’t a true playoff team. 
 
Worth Quoting – “In this game, anything can happen. I know the Knicks and Hawks play some pretty tough teams coming up. I’ll definitely be watching. We’ll see.” – Cavs’ Kyrie Irving on the playoffs
 
Up Next – The Cavs will hit hardwood again on Wednesday when they take on the Detroit Pistons. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. at Quicken Loans Arena.
 
 

 

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