Every Sunday, Right Down Euclid will be taking a look back at the week that was for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers Week in Review will focus on breaking down the past week’s games, looking at the starting lineup(s) by the numbers, finding the biggest takeaway from how the team played, analyzing Coach Mike Brown’s decisions and peeping the coming week’s opponents. Each review will come with an overall rating (out of 10.0) for the Cavaliers that week.
The train wreck that is the Cleveland Cavaliers’ (5-12) 2013-14 campaign continued to veer off of the tracks of rebuilding success this past week. Before any games were played by the Wine & Gold, rumors surfaced before this past Wednesday night’s matchup with the Miami Heat at home that Dion Waiters was being shopped, and that he was O.K. with it. These rumors were denied despite the ESPN.com reporting of the players-only meeting incident, when Dion supposedly got physical with Tristan Thompson. This must have fired the second-year shooting guard up, as Dion went on to have a great week–averaging 21.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists, while shooting 52.4 percent from the field and 46.7 percent from three. However, the losing streak continued to stretch out, reaching five games before the Cavaliers manned up and went blow for blow against the Chicago Bulls Saturday night. Starting off the week with their third Saturday win of the season, let’s see if what we saw at Quicken Loans Arena over the weekend was a fluke or not in week 6.
Week 5 Games in Review:
Miami Heat 95, Cleveland Cavaliers 84 – Wed., Nov. 27 at Quicken Loans Arena
- LeBron James’ first return to Cleveland this season was a peculiar one. With campaigns going around the city trying to lure LeBron back to the Cavaliers in the midst of a period where the Cavaliers only mustered one win in eight attempts, this team was being beaten down both on and off the court. After hanging with the Heat in the first half—although it sure didn’t look like Cleveland deserved to be within seven points because of a 14-point second quarter—LeBron started to do his thing in the third quarter. After picking up 12 points in the first half, James copied that output in the third quarter alone, giving the Heat enough breathing room to toy with the Wine & Gold for the rest of the night. Yes, James did receive the same amount of boos that he always does, but his physicality and speed was just too much for the Cleveland defense to handle down the stretch. At least this one was watchable…
Boston Celtics 103, Cleveland Cavaliers 86 – Fri., Nov. 29 at the TD Garden
- There really isn’t much to say here. Cleveland came with no will to compete in this contest, going down 18 points before the second quarter even started. Jeff Green put up 31, Jordan Crawford recorded a triple-double and one of Cleveland’s worst enemies (Paul Pierce) wasn’t even suited up this time around. The Cavaliers started the game shooting seven percent from the field with just over three minutes left in the first quarter. Whenever the Cavaliers bury themselves like this early on, they decide it’s just best to lie in their self-made graves. With no one stepping up to take a stand, this was by far one of the lowest moments I have witnessed watching the Cavaliers over the past few years. I’m thinking Cleveland learned something from Boston’s passing and ball-movement habits in this game, because it sure looked like they completely turned over a new leaf on offense against Chicago. This marked the seventh time that the Cavaliers scored in the 80s or below. Through 16 games last season, the Cavs had only recorded three games scoring in the 80s or less. Where’s the offensive improvement? Is Mike Brown this much of an offensive headache.
Cleveland Cavaliers 97, Chicago Bulls 93 – Sat., Nov. 30 at Quicken Loans Arena
- Without Derrick Rose for the rest of the season, Chicago may be in for a bumpy ride. Following the news that Rose would need surgery to repair a torn meniscus, the Los Angeles Clippers dished out an abomination of the Bulls, and then the hapless Utah Jazz stifled the Bulls in overtime, 89-83. After disposing of the Detroit Pistons, Chicago came to Cleveland looking for their eighth win in nine tries over the past three seasons. However, Cleveland had a higher chance of fixing the aforementioned train wreck with a logical lineup to start the game: Irving/Miles/Gee/Thompson/Bynum. This unit, led by Bynum, who posted his first double-double as a Cavalier and swatted five shots, was the most efficient Cavaliers unit I have seen all season. And with Waiters supply an 8 of 10 shooting night off the bench for 20 points, Wine & Gold fans finally got to see a glimpse of what this team can look like when rolling on all cylinders. Magic number though: After coughing up the ball eight times the previous two games, Kyrie turned the ball over zero times against the Bulls. He had a rough week, so let’s acknowledge this.
Starters by the Numbers:
Kyrie Irving – three games: 35.7 FG%, 7.1 3P%, 73.3 FT%, 17.3 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.0 RPG
Matthew Dellavedova – one game (eight minutes): 0 of 2 (FG), 0 of 1 (3P), one rebound
Sergey Karasev – one game (15 minutes): 0 of 1 (FG), 1 of 2 (50.0 FT%), one point, one assist, one steal
C.J. Miles – one game (16 minutes): 2 of 5 (40.0 FG%), 2 of 3 (66.7 3P%), six points, two rebounds, two assists, one steal, two blocks
Alonzo Gee – three games: 54.5 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 4.3 PPG, 3.3 RPG
Tristan Thompson – three games: 31.6 FG%, 66.7 FT%, 6.7 PPG, 10.7 RPG
Andrew Bynum – three games: 38.7 FG%, 4 of 4 (FT), 9.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 2.0 BPG
Biggest Takeaway – Stalemate Offense:
Kyrie’s shooting struggles beside, the frontcourt really got beat down low on both sides of the ball. But once we saw the Bynum-led frontcourt offense flourish against the Bulls’ defense this past Saturday against one of the better big units in Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah, the ceiling for the Mike Brown O moved up a smidge. Baby steps are still progress, but the way the ball was moving around and the rapid and consistent movement by guys like Dion and Kyrie opened things up all over the floor. It was buddy ball for the Wine & Gold for the first time this season, and if Dion can continue to put up 20 points a night off the bench in sets like we saw Saturday, I think Brown can make a quick turnaround for this offense. It’s needed.
Coach Brown’s RDE Press Conference:
In this section, RDE will be picking out the flaws in Mike Brown’s decisions over the past week and predicting what the Cavaliers’ head coach will key in on during practice and games in order to fix Cleveland’s current woes. This will be done in a four-quarter format.
First Quarter – As I’ve been mentioned over and over again in the first quarter, WE ABSOLUTELY CAN’T ALLOW TEAMS LIKE BOSTON TO PILE POINTS ON US BECAUSE OF A CRACK IN THE SHOOTING GUARD/SMALL FORWARD ROTATION. At this point, I’m almost chalking up small forward as a lost cause this season, but see what happened when C.J. Miles started the game over guys like Dellavedova and Karasev? Overall, Miles put together as good a defensive effort as Delly would have and also contributed to the momentum and flow of the offense early on. Let’s keep this trend going.
Second Quarter – We’ve been seeing the Cavaliers go into panic mode early, finding themselves in double-digit holes before the reserves can even take the floor. This is resulting in poor shot selection by bench players like Jarrett Jack, as the need to shoot, despite position on the floor, is becoming a panicked priority by Brown’s second and third units. Low-percentage two-pointers are becoming too commonplace for the Cavaliers. So by staying calm, the Cavaliers may be able to put up more of a fight instead of heading into the locker room at half with fingers pointed.
Third Quarter – Let’s focus on the Miami game here, because this is when LeBron went off for 12 of his 28 points on the night. Miami was contained relatively well up to this point, as the Cavs kept the Heat within hopeful striking distance. After rattling LeBron for much of the first quarter, Cleveland just looked like they lost their edge coming out of the locker room thanks to a struggle-filled second quarter in which Cleveland shot 20 percent from the field. Coming out of the tunnel to begin the final 24 minutes of play was a problem stretching back to last year, but the excuse (youth) is no longer a valid response for the Wine & Gold underachieving and failing to come out of the gates without rust.
Fourth Quarter – The Cavaliers did something against the Bulls in the fourth frame that I haven’t seen from this squad in a long time: Keep a lead over the final 12 minutes. Although things got scary for a minute, Cleveland proved that they have it in them to close out games. Behind the leadership of Kyrie and the brute force of Bynum, this could turn into an exciting late-game duo for Brown and the Cavs.
Look Ahead to Week 6:
–Wed., Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Denver Nuggets, Quicken Loans Arena
– Fri., Dec. 6 at 7:30 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers @ Atlanta Hawks, Philips Arena
–Sat., Dec. 7 at 7:30 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Los Angeles Clippers, Quicken Loans Arena
Week 5 Rating:
2.8/10.0 – Improvement is improvement. This team got a win, but that doesn’t excuse the tumultuous performance against Boston. There are absolutely no excuses for that. Cleveland showed up. That’s all. Without a win this week we may have had to dip into the negatives. Hopefully that doesn’t happen this season.