Welcome to the thirty-fourth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Jerry Bulone and Chris Manning sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. The combination of rotating RDE duos answer three questions regarding the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today the discussion revolves around the Kyrie Irving dilemma, Cleveland’s third quarter woes, a must-keep player for next season, the Miami Heat’s incredible winning streak and the effect of Tony Parker’s injury.
First Question: With Kyrie mentioning that his knee was still sore after Wednesday night’s win against the Jazz, how should coach Scott manage his playing time the rest of the season?
Jerry Bulone: I think it is best to shut him down. I know Kyrie is the ultimate competitor, but he is also a very smart young man. He will understand that sometimes you have to look at the big picture. This is not a team like the Washington Nationals, who were in first place and legitimate contenders shutting down their best player when he was perfectly healthy just to save him for future seasons (dumbest thing ever by the way). This would be a team 10 games out of the last playoff spot with only 21 games to play resting a guy with a lingering knee issue—completely different.
Chris Manning: I don’t think shutting Irving down is the way to go. Sure, he won’t be better unless he does sit out the rest of the season, but it’s not like his knee issues are career threatening and he’ll have the summer to rest up. Also, if he sits out it’s going to look like the Cavaliers are tanking the rest of the season. Without their best player, this team is even worse than they are now. Without Irving, the momentum that has slowly (but surely) built up is gone. Plus, if you shut him down now, he’ll get that “injury prone tag” that is incredibly hard to shake. Losing that is not worth it. Rest him here and there and cap him at 30 minutes a game – just don’t end his season.
Second Question: The Cavaliers have played horrendous basketball as of late in the third quarter. What is your personal solution to this problem?
JB: I think it’s more of an NBA thing. I tend to see this with a lot of teams. The third quarter is like a 12-minute practice session until the real game starts in the 4th quarter. Just do not get too far behind, and then turn it on in the fourth quarter. The problem is that the Cavaliers are not the Miami Heat or the Spurs, thus they need to play all four quarters. The only logical change would be to the rotation. If you are not hustling and just going through the motions, then you sit.
CM: It’s hard to put a finger on how to solve this issue because this is a young team that is still growing. This is also an injury-riddled team that has had bad, bad luck getting a consistent lineup on the floor for even a single stretch of games. With Dion Waiters out as of late, that trend has continued. For the Cavaliers, I think it’s all about getting a consistent lineup on the floor and finding out which ones work best. The sooner that all comes together, and we get an idea of what the rotation will be, then we can really dive into the woes of the third period. Honestly, this is a summary of the whole season – injuries have made the Cavaliers season incomplete.
Third Question: Which current Cleveland player is the most important to lock down with a contract next season?
JB: It’s got to be Marreese Speights. At first I thought he would be too expensive for a backup power forward. However, after watching him for a while, I have completely changed my tune. The guy can do it all: he can shoot a jumper, take it to the hoop and play great defense. Above all that, I love how aggressive he is. It is especially vital to have a guy like him, whose motor doesn’t turn off during times like the third quarter when others tend to go through the motions. I also think the Cavaliers’ front office is thinking the same thing, especially since they declined to move him at the deadline.
CM: Marreese Speights without question. Since coming over in a trade, he’s been a real boost to the Cavaliers once woeful bench and is a player I’d like to see as part of the core moving forward. He has a player option for next year, so his future is really up to him unlike Anderson Varejao, who has a team option for next year. Making roughly $4.5 million next season if he picks up his option, I’d like to see the Cavaliers be aggressive in bringing him back and offer him more money and a multi-year commitment. Locking up Speights gives the Cavaliers a frontcourt of Speights, Varejao, Tristan Thompson and Tyler Zeller. That’s straight cash, homie.
Fourth Question: How many games do you think the Heat can extend their current 16-game winning streak to?
JB: The Heat are the best, bar none. Barring an injury to Kyrie’s future running mate (LeBron), they will easily win their next championship. That being said, I can see them extending the win streak to 25. Then I think they will lose out of pure boredom. When they care, no one can beat them. They are just too deep and talented. However, there will be a time when they will begin preparation for the “real” NBA season and start to rest the big three or four (depending on what you consider Ray Allen). This will mean Mike Miller will get playing time, and thus losses will inevitably follow.
CM: I could really see it going into the high 20s. If they can get past Indiana on Sunday, they do not have a tough game until March 31st against the Spurs. If they win every game up until that one, they’ll have a 29-game winning streak with a really good shot at getting their 30th against a Spurs team playing without Tony Parker. After that, the last tough game is against the Knicks at home. Realistically, with their schedule, the Heat could win every game until the end the season or until they start resting LeBron James and company. Teams like the Heat don’t get “bored.” They are elite killers who are after NBA immortality. A long winning streak that eventually culminates in a title is a damn good way to do that.
Fifth Question: What does Parker’s injury mean for the Spurs over the next month?
JB: Not a whole a lot in the long run. I think the Spurs are talented enough to stay pat while he is out. His replacements are Cory Joseph and Patty Mills (whom is a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body) and should be able to do just enough. They are up three full games on the Thunder and their schedule is not that tough over the next month. With that being said, if they could have him back before April 4th when they have to travel to OKC that would be ideal.
CM: Like I wrote in the Countertop Conversation, I think this is bad for the Spurs. They have a tough schedule and the Los Angeles Clippers and Oklahoma City Thunder are nipping right on their heels. They are going to have a tough time holding on to the top spot on the West and having a good shot at getting to the Finals. They don’t have their floor general and there is no one on their roster capable of filling Parker’s shoes. It’s going to be up to Manu Ginobili to carry this team and help them hold on to their top spot. With how strong OKC is at home, if they lose their top spot, I don’t like their chances of reaching the Finals. I really think they need the top seed to reach the Finals and have a chance to win the title.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Jerry Bulone and Dan Pilar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”