At the beginning of every week, 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 Cleveland Cavaliers () continued to improve in week 7, and that’s all you can ask for from a young team. Even without center Andrew Bynum playing significant minutes, the Wine & Gold fought off a struggling Knicks squad at home and then hit the road for two matchups with teams on complete opposite ends of the winning spectrum: the Orlando Magic and Miami Heat. Although the Cavs were able to pick up their first road win since mid-November by disposing of the Magic after a sluggish start, things didn’t go the same way against the defending champs. Not saying that Cleveland bombed, but it would have been nice to come away with an actual victory instead of an artificial moral one. Regardless, Cleveland strung together two successful weeks, and as fans that watched a team poop their pants after holding big leads three seasons in a row, it’s nice to see fight from this 2013-14 squad. Week 7 recap, coming at you.
Week 7 Games in Review
Cleveland Cavaliers 109, New York Knicks 94 – Tues., Dec. 10 at Quicken Loans Arena
- Record: 8-13, 7-3 home – Kyrie Irving looked to have his shooting stroke back on the right path against the Knicks, but this should come as a surprise to no one. Kyrie is a Knick killer, and he continued his trend of New York dominance by finishing with 37 points and 11 assists, while shooting 60.9 percent from the field(!!!), his highest single-game field goal percentage of the season thus far. Not to mention, he also broke the ankles of New York’s Pablo Prigioni multiple times. The “Uncle Drew” Irving came to play Tuesday night, delivering his first pleasing performance as a shooter in some time.
Cleveland Cavaliers 109, Orlando Magic 100 – Fri., Dec. 13 at Philips Arena
- Record: 9-13, 2-10 away – Although it was against the landslide-ing Magic, the Cavaliers secured their first road win over their past five tries. And Dion Waiters is starting to emerge as the threat that Cleveland has wanted off of the bench despite drafting him to be a starter. Bench Dion equals Intensity Dion, and that even showed with the game already in hand after Orlando’s Andrew Nicholson unnecessarily shoved Anderson Varejao after making a meaningless bucket at the end of the game. Andy wasn’t trying to showboat or anything, so Dion made sure that Nicholson received an earful before he was thrown from the game with basically no time remaining. Fight until the very end, but don’t be an idiot, Andrew.
Miami Heat 114, Cleveland Cavaliers 107 – Sat., Dec. 14 at Quicken Loans Arena
- Record: 9-14, 2-11 away – Coach Mike Brown expects his men to take the court every game and come away with a victory, and he almost saw his team do that from the locker room against the defending champions Miami Heat. After being tossed in the second quarter, Cleveland was slowly starting to lose its grips of the Heat after keeping great pace with them in the early portion of the half. A double-digit halftime deficit reached 19 points in the third quarter, but Cleveland uncharacteristically (at least compared to last season) fought with their hearts protruding out of their jerseys and actually took a four-point lead halfway through the fourth. The Cavs have been counted out numerous times over the past few seasons, but they have never fought back like they did on the road against the Heat. A valiant second half proved that this team is growing. Now they just need to complete the whole picture.
Starters by the Numbers
Kyrie Irving – three games: 50.8 FG%, 40.9 3P%, 93.3 FT%, 29.0 PPG, 6.7 APG, 2.3 SPG
C.J. Miles – three games: 45.5 FG%, 25.0 3P%, 6.7 PPG, 19.7 MPG
Alonzo Gee – three games: 47.1 FG%, 6.7 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 22.3 MPG
Tristan Thompson – three games: 48.3 FG%, 66.7 FT%, 11.3 PPG, 7.7 RPG
Andrew Bynum – three games: 36.4 FG%, 54.5 FT%, 3.0 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 20.0 MPG
Biggest Takeaway – Kyrie And Dion Working Well Not Together
Since Dion hasn’t started in a bit, let’s take a quick look at his stats from week 7: 42.9 FG%, 42.9 3P%, 71.4 FT%, 14.3 PPG. Pretty decent numbers taken into account that Dion and Kyrie haven’t been playing on the court that much together. For example, his 21-point outburst, which mainly came in the second half against Orlando, featured a Kyrie-less lineup for a majority of his 29 minutes and 18 shots on the court. The backcourt duo – if that’s what you want to call them now – both put up great weeks in respect to their previous performances, and I’m definitely O.K with this even if they’re both not starting or playing together. Yes, the point behind drafting Waiters was to make him Kyrie’s partner in crime, but if Dion is playing just fine off of the bench in a sixth man role, let it be.
Coach Brown’s RDE Press Conference
In this section, RDE will be picking out the flaws and successes 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.
What Worked: As I mentioned above, even though most are calling for Dion and Kyrie to play side-by-side because it’s showing that the Cavaliers management aren’t invested on wanting Dion to work as a cog in Cleveland, why fix something that’s not broken? As you well know, Dion played a similar role at Syracuse, and I think the position that Brown has him in now is similar. His game has edge now. He’s out to prove something, and he’s not taking away shots from Irving and Bynum in the starting lineup, which Brown wants. C.J. Miles had a better week, so it wasn’t as big as a gaping hole in the starting rotation at the 2 like there usually is.
What Didn’t Work: Trying to feed Bynum the ball. As Coach has mentioned lately, the young guards on this team aren’t familiar with consistently feeding the ball down low to a big, physical man like Bynum. That’s what caused the downgrade in minutes that Bynum received in week 7. Until the guards on this team can find different ways to feed Bynum the ball without going with the same first-half plan in the second half, then lineups with Bynum later in games will create a stagnant offense.
Right Down Euclid Features
At the end of every week we will take a look back at what unique content went up on the site. If you haven’t checked these features out already, you’re missing out. Now’s your chance to get caught up.
Kyrie Irvings shooting struggles stem from first quarter – Zak Kolesar
After shooting 44.8 percent from the field last season, 37.9 percent from three and finishing with an effective shooting percentage of 50.3 percent, this season has been a different story. Irving is currently shooting 39.4 percent from the field, 30.4 percent from three and—the most alarming shooting statistic—has an effective field goal percentage of 43.2.
The Cavs have the good fortune, however, to reside in the Eastern Conference, where most of the teams would have difficulty winning a rec league. Before the season, we all expected six teams to be decent: Miami, Indiana, Chicago, Atlanta, New York and Brooklyn. The Knicks and the Nets have been awful and show no indication that they will get better anytime soon. The Bulls have lost Derrick Rose, transforming a championship contender into a middle of the pack team.
Why Alonzo Gee is important – Mike Schreiner
I began thinking about this while listening to NBA Lockdown with Bruce Bowen. For those who may be relatively new to the NBA, Bowen was the starting small forward for the San Antonio Spurs from 2001, 2008. Bowen’s defense was considered such a critical part of the Spurs championships in 2003, 2005, and 2007 that his number was retired by San Antonio in March of 2012. For his career, Bowen was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team from 2004-2008 after earning a spot on the second team from 2001 to 2003. A tremendous player to be sure, but this information only tells half of the story.
Anthony Bennett will define Chris Grant’s Legacy – Jeff Mount
Of the six first-round draft picks that Grant has made, the one that will define his legacy and probably determine whether he still has a job in a couple of years is Anthony Bennett. Bennett was the biggest reach of the six, and he seems to have the widest degree of risk/reward variability, at least right now. Also, being the top pick in the draft, he will be dissected mercilessly if he fails to achieve his potential, and those failures will be laid squarely on Grant’s lap.
Matthew Dellavedova proving his worth early on – Kevin Stankiewicz
He is the only one playing like he has something to prove. His energy and hustle is noticeably better than his fellow rookies, and it is probably why he remained on the NBA roster while Karasev and Felix were sent to Canton.
Look Ahead to Week 8
–Tues., Dec. 17 at 7 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Portland Trail Blazers, Quicken Loans Arena
–Fri., Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Milwaukee Bucks, Amway Center
–Sat., Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls, United Center
Week 7 Rating
7.5/10.0 – The reason the Cavaliers received one full point higher on the rating scale than last week is because of their tenacity against the Heat and the fact that they didn’t falter in Orlando despite being outplayed in the first quarter. Yeah, the Cavaliers blew a double-digit lead against the Knicks, but they were able to build that lead right back up. These are all three situations that would not have played out in the Cavaliers favor if it were the 2012-13 campaign. This team is getting better, and that’s good if you’re in the Eastern Conference.