Welcome to the thirty-fifth installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Jerry Bulone and Dan Pilar 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 Kyrie Irving’s availability for the remainder of the season, C.J. Miles’ comments on closing out the season, Irving’s “injury-prone” tag, the Miami Heat’s continuing dominance and the right leader for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
First Question: Do you think that we will see Kyrie Irving play at all the rest of the season?
Jerry Bulone: I sincerely hope not. What is the point? Whether he comes back for three meaningless games or not, what is it going to prove? Will he suddenly force critics to shed the “injury-prone” label? No, those critics will still talk regardless because it is the only negative point they can bring up when it comes to Irving. They need to make sure Irving is healthy for next season, when they should be a legitimate playoff contender. I am not interested in any moral victory. There is nothing to prove, nothing to gain —shut it down.
Dan Pilar: That’s entirely up to Irving. The organization is obviously not going to let him play until the medical staff clears him to play. And if he stays on schedule, then he’ll be eligible to come back with about two weeks left in the season. If you listened to Irving in interviews after his shoulder injury, you can tell in his voice that he knew he was going to miss time due to how much pain he is in. I don’t think he’s going to force coming back this season to play in the remaining eight games or however many it may be. But if he does, great, because the more time him and Waiters get together the better for the future of this team.
Second Question: C.J. Miles recently said that the Cavs have meaning to win over meaningless stretch. Do you agree or would you rather see the Cavaliers “tank” and possibly get a better pick?
JB: This is a tough one. I think a player always wants to believe that every game counts, and to an extent they do. Also, no coach, especially Byron Scott, would ever tell his team to sandbag. That being said, I am all about the draft pick. I think if we could get one more player of Irving’s caliber, the Cavaliers could be the Eastern Conference’s version of the OKC Thunder. To get that impact, the Cavaliers desperately need a small forward, and they may have to pick in the top five. If that cost us a few victories late in this season, with Varejao and Irving not playing, I am fine with that. You boast a team with our four youngsters plus a healthy Varejao, Speights, Gee and perhaps that kid out of UCLA, then we will be ready to make some serious noise next year.
DP: Never, Never, Never do you ever want a team to lose on purpose; I don’t care if it is for a better draft pick. Wins are much more important for the confidence of this team. This week in the Countertop Conversation, Chris Manning and I talked about when is the time to win for this team? Because if you just keep saying, “ehh, this season means nothing for us, lets just get a higher draft pick,” then you aren’t getting any better as a team because you’re just practicing losing ways. I don’t believe this is a meaningless stretch, because a lot of second-tier guys on our bench will be playing for contracts next season.
Third Question: Are you worried about the “injury-prone” tag that fans always jump to when Irving goes down?
JB: Not at all. Let’s see when the games really matter how “injury prone” Kyrie is. I think the kid has has some unfortunate injuries, but nothing (at least this year) that would be serious enough to sideline him during the playoffs, or a “must-win” type game. I think he is much tougher than many think, and he will prove it in due time.
DP: I guess I should say I’m not surprised. I tried to convince myself that he wasn’t, but when you draft a player out of college who only played in 11 games, we knew what may be coming our way. Irving categorizes his early injuries this year as “freak injuries” and I get where he coming from. But if it keeps happening, then you’re injury prone. It’s something Cleveland fans have to get used to because he’s still only 20, turns 21 next week and he’s getting hurt at a rate of a senior citizen.
Fourth Question: Another week has gone by with the Heat still running high on their impressive streak. How much longer can it go?
JB: I am just going to stick to my same answer: when the Heat care, they can’t be beat. Therefore, when they eventually lose, it will be out of pure boredom. This will happen in a few games, as I predicted right at about 24 or 25. Then they will coast and start to put players like Mike Miller and James Jones in to save some wear and tear on their playoff rotation. As a result, they will lose a few more games, but be nice and fresh for the start of the real season.
DP: I’m so sick and tired of hearing about those turds. But I bet they take their streak to 23, putting them as the second-longest winning in the NBA. But when the Heat come into Cleveland for LeBron’s first visit to Cleveland this year, the Cavs will beat them with no Kyrie. Done and Done.
Fifth Question: Is Durant capable of leading his team to a championship?
JB: Of course, that is not even a question. He has the best offensive game in the NBA. He just needs a better supporting cast. I know Westbrook has been better this year, but in the past he has taken way to many ill-advised shots and made bad mistakes. These mistakes get magnified when you play with the NBA’s most efficient offensive player. I also do not think Kevin Martin makes up for the loss of Harden. So the Thunder will most likely lose to the Miami Heat again this year, but it won’t be Durant’s fault – that much I can promise.
DP: The great thing about the Thunder is that they don’t have to rely on Durant. When he isn’t hitting his shot, or can’t shake a defender, Westbrook is very capable of carrying the load. We saw that in a few NBA Finals games last year. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to translate into wins, but Westbrook handled the scoring load with their backs against the wall.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Jerry Bulone and Zak Kolesar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”