Kyrie Irving and Isaiah Thomas trade places

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Published on : August 23, 2017

 

Breaking news out of the NBA is that the Cleveland Cavaliers have traded Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics for Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, Ante Zizec and an unprotected 2018 1st round draft pick (from the Brooklyn Nets). This is huge. We all knew something was brewing after Irving shocked everyone by asking to be traded. Since that announcement, it was only a matter of time before Kyrie found a new home but no one could have guessed the deal would be this juicy. This is everything you need to know about the big move.

 

The Cleveland fanbase has to love this trade. Kyrie Irving wants to leave but you want to get some value for him. The Cavaliers get the offensive spark in Thomas, a solid defender and scorer in Crowder and big men depth with Zizec. But the reason this deal looks so good from the Cleveland side is because of that draft pick. It could be the number one overall depending on where the Nets finish. This is the critical part. That pick is the future of the franchise. Maybe that future rookie plus the existing core will be enough to keep King James in town after next year. The Cavs might not be done adding pieces. Rumors continue to swirl. The most recent gossip is that D Wade could be joining his BFF LeBron for another title run. Maybe they get Melo too.

 

 

The folks in Boston are doing backflips right now. They traded in their 29-year-old guard with a hip injury for a 25-year-old superstar with a championship ring. The Celtics are getting younger. Their new roster will feature Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Marcus Morris and rookie Jayson Tatum. That’s a ton of talent. Plus Boston has a stock pile of upcoming lottery picks so losing the 2018 1st rounder isn’t a backbreaker. You can see the plan here. Build the core that will eventually take over the eastern conference after LeBron James leaves or goes on the decline. It feels like the Celtics gave away a lot but they are really focusing on the long term. But don’t be fooled, this crew will be in the playoff mix from the jump.

 

The craziest aspect is that two teams who are direct rivals in the east agreed to a deal with each other. It’s one thing to ship pieces across conferences but to make a deal with your own road block? Seems perverse. Only time will tell who won this trade. It was a blockbuster to be sure. Cavs open their season at home versus the Celtics on October 17th. Should be a good game.

 

Changes.

 

 


Derrick Rose joins Cavs

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Published on : July 25, 2017

 

Derrick Rose is bringing his talents to rust beach. The 29-year-old point guard has signed a one year deal at the vet minimum ($2.1 mill) to join the Cleveland Cavaliers. This move could shake up the Super Team rankings but word is that more moves are on the way. Let’s dive into this new war of the roses.

 

This story really started a few days ago, when the news broke that Kyrie Irving said he wished to be traded from the team. The report was that Irving wants to be in a situation where he is the top dog and the number one option. That’s a bold choice. Kyrie already has ring and is routinely in the NBA Finals. He is decently rich so this move is just about wanting to get away from LeBron so Kyrie can write his own story. That’s his choice but the real issue is that the Cavs don’t have to do anything if they don’t want to. Irving is still under contract. So now the stage is set. Enter Derrick Rose (stage left).

 

 

So Rose, the former New York Knick, is now on the Cavs. Many think that means Irving is being packaged to leave. Maybe. Maybe they all stay. Chances are, Kyrie finds a new home and Cleveland gets a quality player and a solid draft pick or picks. Or maybe the cap space to sign Melo. Cleveland was close to getting Paul George but missed out. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that no knows if James is staying in town after this year. The only thing that’s clear is that I said “maybe” too many times in this paragraph.

 

29-year-old Rose for 25-year-old Irving isn’t an upgrade. Especially when it’s only for one season. But as said above, who knows what’s going to happen in Believeland in a year from now. Both can score. Derrick Rose has famously had many injury issues but he is very talented. He was the 2011 league MVP and if he’s healthy, he will be a great overall companion to LeBron James as the Cleveland Cavaliers hunt another title.

 

Derrick Rose trade

 

The Cavs may be building a new super team. James, Rose, Love, and another talent could put this crew over the top. Melo is still the wild card that has yet to be dealt. Just imagine them all together. That’s a crew that actually give the Warriors a run for their money. But maybe Kyrie goes to the Spurs and Melo goes to the the Thunder or Rockets or Dallas Cowboys. Who knows. Time will tell but it’s still fun to guess.

 

Rose could be deadly if he isn’t forced to the max on every possession. Watch the old MVP flash for a moment or two.

 

Thorns.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 5

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Published on : June 9, 2017

 

 

Good golly Miss Molly. I really thought this segment was dead but the Warriors stay perfect despite the Cavaliers’ best efforts. Golden State is currently an insane 15-0 in the NBA Playoffs and is one win away from completing the ultimate sweep. Needless to say, this is all uncharted territory in terms of the record book. This undefeated quest is bonkers and if this team manages to complete the sweep then they will go down as one of the best NBA teams ever assembled.

 

This final installment of Sweeps and Creeps 2017 is all about game 3 of the NBA Finals. By all measure, the best of the series by a wide margin. Mostly because it was close and competitive the entire time. Something that was sorely missing from the blowouts of games 1 and 2. We all knew LeBron James and the Cavs were going to come out firing on their home floor. Much like what happened in the 2016 Finals. And they did. It was back-and-forth action from tipoff. After a wild first quarter, Warriors were up 39-32.

 

durant-celebrate-game 3

 

Cleveland was playing so much better than their previous efforts. They had pace and aggression, they were attacking the rim and it was working. It was 67-61 Golden State at half, thanks in large part to the brilliant shooting of Klay Thompson who had 30 points on 11 of 18 attempts, including 6-11 from three point land. But the story for the Cavs started in the second half with Kyrie Irving. The dude took the game over. Driving, shooting, passing. It was beautiful. Kyrie finished with 38 points on 16 of 29 from the field but 0 for 7 on threes.

 

LeBron once again showed us his lion-sized heart on the way to 39 points on 15 of 27 shooting, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. JR Smith kicked in 16 points, going 5 of 10 from behind the arc. Kevin Love had a rough outing. He notched only 9 points on 1 of 7 from the field. Kyle Korver added 8 points but missed a huge shot late in the game. Cleveland got almost nothing from anyone else on the roster. Overall, it wasn’t enough. Not when Steph had 26 points on 8 of 19 shooting and 5 of 9 from three, plus 13 rebounds and 6 assists. But the real star was Kevin Durant. KD lead the Warriors with 31 points on an efficient 10 of 18 from the field, 8 rebounds and 4 assists. Including this monster from the last minute of the game. This sequence turned the whole contest.

 

 

Durant is a beast. The Warriors clawed their way back after a huge 3rd quarter effort from the Cavaliers. Suddenly, things were getting very interesting as time ticked away. The last 2 minutes were all Golden State. The Dubs ended the game on an 11-0 run and most of that is courtesy of Kevin Durant. Final score 118-113. The stunned faces of the home town crowd said it all. The Cavs got hero performances from James and Irving and still lost. This begs the question: does Cleveland have enough firepower to win a game?

 

I’ve changed my prediction with each new Sweeps and Creeps article (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4) so no reason to stop now. After all this, I’m the creep that’s calling the sweep. That’s right. The Warriors will stay golden, win game 4 and the championship. Believe that.

 

Sad LeBron.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 4

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Published on : June 7, 2017

 

 

Welcome back to Sweeps and Creeps, I thought this segment was done for the year but then the Warriors won game 2 of the 2017 NBA Finals by a commanding score of 132-113. And the thought crossed my mind, “could we really see another sweep?” Well, just asking that question was enough for a little exploration. Many are quick to mention that Golden State was up 2-0 last year and ended up losing. That’s true but they are a different team now. They have Kevin Durant and are a PERFECT 14-0 in the playoffs so far. So it’s not crazy to discuss whether or not that success is going to continue.

 

Game 1: Warriors win 113-91

Here we go. The matchup we’ve all been waiting for. Cleveland’s stars played well. LeBron James went 9-20 for 28 points, 15 rebounds and 8 assists. Kyrie added 10-22 shooting for 24 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists. Kevin Love added 15 points and 21 rebounds but the Cavs got little help elsewhere. On the other side, Kevin Durant made the most of his Warriors Finals debut with the and dropped 38 points of 14-26 shooting with 9 boards and 8 dimes. Steph followed suit with 28 points on 11-22 shooting (including 6-11 from 3-point land) with 6 rebounds and 10 assists.

 

Curry lay up game 1 2017

 

Cleveland gave up too many dunks and easy buckets to keep up with the high octane Warriors. Gunnar explained all that and what the Cavs needed to change but they didn’t totally listen. I’m worried that the Cavaliers are simply out-gunned. Even if they get 30 each from their big 3 (James, Irving, Love) they could still come up short to a Golden State crew that has at least 7 ballers that can drop 20 (Curry, Durant, Thompson, Green, Livingston, Clark, Iguodala) on any given outing.

 

Game 2: Warriors win 132-113

Cleveland came out aggressive. LeBron was driving and scoring, Kevin Love was knocking down shots all over and the Cavs looked ready to play. Unfortunately for them, so did the Warriors. Steve Kerr was back to coaching and Steph Curry went 10 for 10 from the free throw line on the way to a 40 point first quarter for the team. Each time the Cavaliers closed the gap, Durant or Curry would make a big play and rebuild the cushion. This went on and on.

 

Cleveland never recaptured the lead and it broke wide open in the last half of the 4th quarter. James went to the bench and Cavs coach, Lue,  got a look at the reserves. Some lineup changes may be in order. Overall, the Warriors scored tons of points but they didn’t protect the ball very well. Imagine what they could do if they limited the turnovers? On the Cleveland side, they looked gassed. Like they couldn’t keep up with Golden State’s pace. Something better change or we are headed for broom town.

 

Green Durant hi five 2017 finals

 

Game 3

If the Cavs don’t win this contest on their home court then this series is over. Yes, they came back from down 3-1 last year but down 3-0, to this squad? No way, that’s too tall of a mountain to climb, even for LeBron. That being said, expect the James gang to be hype in the Believeland. Even if there is a sweep, game 3 should be the closest contest we see. We shall see Wednesday, June 7th.

 

The old prediction was Warriors in 7. But after seeing the blowouts of games 1 and 2, the guess must be recalibrated. Warriors in 5. The Cavaliers are the perfect creeps to stop the championship super sweep but they haven’t shown enough for me to think they can storm back. Even though I hope they do, just so we can see a great show. Read the old Sweeps and Creeps here. Part 1, part 2 and part 3.

 

“Warriors, come out to play”.

 

 


3 adjustments the Cavs need to make after game one

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Published on : June 2, 2017

 

 

The NBA Finals have finally arrived, but apparently seven days of rest wasn’t quite enough time to prepare for the Cleveland Cavaliers. As bad as game one went for the Cavs, many of their problems are fixable. After a first half that was littered with sloppy possessions and defensive breakdowns, the Cavs were very fortunate to only be down by eight. If head coach, Tyronn Lue, made some seemingly obvious halftime adjustments, I thought Cleveland would have a chance to steal a game on the road. Instead, the Warriors outscored the Cavs 33-20 in the third quarter and ran away with the game.

 

Now, the pressure is on Lue to get his team on the same page and make the necessary adjustments, two things he failed to do in game one. LeBron James also deserves some blame, as he tied a season high with eight turnovers, despite otherwise finishing with great stats. Since Lue took over as head coach, there’s been speculation over whether he is really coaching the team, or he’s just a figurehead who falls in line with LeBron’s commands. Regardless who’s calling the shots, here’s three things the Cavaliers need to do differently in order to avoid complete and utter disaster.

 

James Curry Finals 2017

 

Smarter possessions, simplify offense, limit turnovers

One mistake the Cavs were making, LeBron in particular, was overthinking things on offense. Their offense was at it’s best when LeBron and Kyrie Irving attacked the basket, as it normally is. Despite that, they were determined to get the ball to Kevin Love whenever he was guarded by Kevin Durant, but Durant was up to the task and Love shot 4-13 from the field. Much of Love’s bad shooting was due to him getting the ball in difficult positions. LeBron had at least two turnovers on plays where he forced very difficult lob passes to Love when he wasn’t open.

 

LeBron had another near turnover attempting to lob a pass to Irving from half court. Somehow Irving came up with the ball, but the long pass gave the defense time to swarm him and the possession did not result in points. LeBron did this because Irving was being guarded by Steph Curry and the Cavs liked the matchup, but Cleveland will have many opportunities for Irving to attack Curry without lobbing him the ball in the post. They can simply give Irving the ball on the perimeter, where he’s comfortable, and let him attack Curry one-on-one, as he did in the final three games of the 2016 Finals. Forcing lob passes to a guy who’s 6’3” in high heels, or a guy with a four inch vertical, doesn’t seem necessary when you have two players who attack the basket and create offense as well as LeBron and Kyrie.

 

James dunk 2017 finals

 

Another LeBron turnover came late in the 2nd quarter, on a play where he made a great drive to the basket, could have had a layup, but instead threw the ball right to Klay Thompson, leading to fast break points for Golden State. At halftime, one would think Tyronn Lue and the Cavs would adjust their game plan to stop forcing the ball to Love and various role players because they like the matchups, and start attacking the basket with LeBron and Irving regardless who is guarding them. Conversely, on the first possession of the 2nd half, the Cavs went to JR Smith in the post. Again, he was being guarded by Curry and they liked the matchup. Not surprisingly, Smith made a few sloppy dribbles and lost the ball.

 

The head-scratching possessions continued for Cleveland. On one play, Irving forced the ball to a well-guarded Tristan Thompson who was immediately tied up for a jump ball. In a fourth quarter possession, Deron Williams took the ball down the court, tried to beat his defender off the dribble and forced up a contested fadeaway. Tyronn Lue needs to tell Williams this is the 2017 LeBron James/Kyrie Irving Cleveland Cavaliers, not the 2010 Deron Williams Utah Jazz. I don’t care who’s guarding them, JR Smith, Tristan Thompson and Deron Williams creating their own shot is NEVER a higher percentage play than LeBron James or Kyrie Irving creating their own shot. Instead of focusing so much on the Warriors perceived weaknesses, and good matchups for bad offensive players, the Cavs should play to their own strengths. James and Irving need to attack the basket as often as humanly possible. Then they can kick it out to open shooters when the defense starts overcompensating for them. That’s when guys like JR Smith and Deron Williams can get some easy baskets.

 

Less switching and rotating, more guarding the guy with the ball

This one may seem obvious, but the Cavaliers didn’t seem pick up on it all game. Amid their constant frantic mess of switching and rotating, Cleveland either didn’t have a strong defensive game plan, or they didn’t understand it well enough to execute it. It looked like no one on the Cavs knew who to guard all game, and as a result they basically didn’t guard anyone. I’m not a basketball coach, but if I was going to pick the most important person to guard, I’d start with the guy who has the ball. The Cavs were so caught up in their rotating ways, the nearest defender opted to rotate off the guy with the ball on several fast breaks, leaving the Warriors with easy dunks and layups. Most notably was a second quarter play where Kyrie Irving was dropping back to pick up Kevin Durant on a fast break, then he inexplicably ran away from Durant to double-team a three point shooter, as Durant took a free pass to the hoop. Even Durant smiled in disbelief after the easiest dunk of his NBA career.

 

Durant dunk 2017 finals

 

I realize Cleveland wants to avoid playing traditional man, since they don’t like a lot of the one-on-one defensive matchups, and it would be hard to keep up with Golden State’s ball movement, but Tyronn Lue needs to find a way to simplify Cleveland’s defensive approach and make sure everyone understands who to guard. Minimize the the switching and rotating, because while the Cavs were switching and rotating, the Warriors were shooting and scoring. And if all else fails, for god sakes, just guard the guy with the damn ball!

 

Less JR, more Jefferson

Last year, Tyronn Lue earned his respect by adjusting his lineup based on which role players were working best in any given game or series. This year, Lue has kept JR Smith in the starting lineup as long as he’s been healthy. Smith started in 35 out of the 41 games he was available during the regular season, despite shooting a career low 34.6% from the field, and scoring 8.6 points per game, his lowest in eleven seasons. While his field goal percentage has risen in the playoffs, he’s scoring a measly 6.4 points per game in 26.4 minutes. That’s not very good for a guy who’s main asset is scoring. Smith apparently played 28 minutes in game one, although you probably didn’t realize that unless you checked the box score, since he essentially did nothing to help the Cavs.

 

Meanwhile, Richard Jefferson was Cleveland’s third best player in the limited minutes that he was on the court in game one. Jefferson was one of the unsung heroes of the 2016 Finals, playing 24 minutes per game and providing great defense and savvy veteran experience. At 36 years old, I understand why the Cavs haven’t used him a lot this season, but this might be the time to start. He can guard Kevin Durant better than any Cavalier aside from LeBron, he makes good decisions with the ball (like passing to LeBron and Kyrie), and he knows when to be aggressive. Cleveland can’t start Jefferson because he plays the same position as LeBron, but they need to play him a lot more than his current postseason average of 11 minutes per game, and start getting him in the game before garbage time.

 

The Golden State Warriors' Klay Thompson (11) drives against the Cleveland Cavaliers' Richard Jefferson (24) in the second quarter of Game 1 of The Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, June 1, 2017. (Nhat V. MeyerBay Area News Group)

 

In the 2016 Finals, Cleveland proved they’re never out of a series when they were down three games to one against Golden State and came back to win the championship. This year, the Warriors added Kevin Durant, and the margin for error is even smaller for the Cavs. The Warriors have one of the best teams ever assembled, and they deserve a lot of credit for how well they played in game one. But you can’t beat a team as great as Warriors if you’re busy beating yourselves. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what the Cavs were doing wrong in game one, their mistakes were glaringly obvious. Hopefully Tyronn Lue realizes this and makes the adjustments the Cavaliers desperately need. That way the Cavs can at least make the series interesting enough to force Jeff Van Gundy to talk about what’s happening on the court instead of his awkward schoolboy crush on Rihanna. Otherwise, Lue could be packing his bags to join David Blatt as assistant in Turkey while LeBron is picking a new head coach in the offseason.

 

 


Sweeps and Creeps: Part 3

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Published on : May 27, 2017

 

 

Welcome back to Sweeps and Creeps, a quick update on all things NBA playoffs. Catch up on the previous entries HERE and HERE. Now, to the court!

 

The Warriors stay golden and undefeated after doing their sweep thing all over the San Antonio Spurs. They are now 12-0 in the playoffs this year. That’s a new record. Also, Golden State is entering the NBA Finals with the highest winning margin in playoff history. To say they have breezed their way back to their third straight Finals appearance diminishes the great team effort we’ve seen but yeah, the Warriors are cruising. They did benefit from playing some teams missing key members due to injury but they can’t control that. All they can do is beat the pants off whatever starting five they’ve seen. This squad is straight Monstars. They are moving the ball well and both Durant and Steph are healthy. Oh god, could we see another sweep?

 

Enough sweeps, here come the creeps. The Cleveland Cavaliers somehow lost to Boston in game 3. None gave the Celtics much of chance in the contest considering the they lost by 44 in game 2. Game 3 was in Cleveland plus Boston’s best player, Isaiah Thomas, was out with an injury. Seemed like a forgone conclusion. But some crazy stuff happened. LeBron James only had 11 points on 4-13 shooting in 45 minutes of action. Then Avery Bradley hit the game winner. A shot that just barley fell in.

 


Game 4 in Cleveland. James and the gang got it back in gear with some big big help from Kyrie Irving. The Cavs guard dropped 42 points on 15-22 shooting including 4-7 from three point land. Kyrie was the real x-factor when LeBron headed to the bench with 4 fouls. Without this performance, this series is mostly likely tied. For reference, Irving had 21 points in the 3rd quarter while no one on the Celtics scored more than 19 points in the game. That makes the 42 points (career playoff high) look gigantic. LeBron had a very respectable 34 points. Cleveland now back in the driver’s seat heading into the potential closeout game 5 in Boston.

 

Game 5 was never close. Cleveland was on top from the tip and never looked back. Final score 135-102. Cavaliers scored 43 in the first quarter and had 75 at the half. James would not be denied. He also passed some guy named Michael Jordan for the most points scored in playoff history and is headed to his 7th straight Finals appearance. No words can follow that.

 

LeBron post up boston

 

Well, we all got what we wanted. Cavs vs Warriors part 3. The ultimate rematch. I can’t wait. The NBA Finals start June 1st on ABC. Until then.

 

Creepshow.

 

 


Reflecting on History Made

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Published on : July 4, 2016

 

 

It’s been over a week and a half since the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship (our first in franchise history) and I’m STILL taking it all in. I actually had to re-watch the game and rally on the one week anniversary. I couldn’t help it!  It was awesome and also didn’t include the stomach craps… or the OCD / superstitious rituals of walking away when things started to look Andrew Dice Clay. But watching it the second time around also didn’t take away from the emotion, excitement, or pride I felt as I relived every moment including the Block (by James) and the Shot (courtesy of Irving). And then to hear the team speak at the rally, some shirtless, some not, reflecting on what it meant to them made everything come together. 

 

“Man, I’ve been watching The Block more than anything because there’s no shot without The Block,” explains Irving during the rally. “You see a guy chasing down a shot like that and then I get a chance on the biggest stage, Game 7, man, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.” We wouldn’t either, Kyrie.

 

But back to that glorious June night…It’s hard to describe the feeling that overcame Cleveland, the fans, the team, me, as time ran out in the fourth quarter, LeBron pointed to the hoop after Golden State’s final attempt gone bad, and just like that the fifty-two year losing streak was over. I think my heart skipped a beat.  I just put my hands over my mouth and said, “Oh my God. We won.” My father, many of his wonderful ESPN Radio colleagues, and I watched the game from the station. When it was over, I looked over at my dad who was just staring at the television. He was suppose to be getting ready to do his post-game show with Michael Reghi, former Cavs play by play announcer, and another diehard who lives and breathes Cleveland sports. But he just stood there, speechless, in awe, paralyzed by the freedom of having that gigantic weight lifted from his jaded spirit. So we floated there for a moment – just to make sure it was real.

It’s not that I couldn’t believe it. It was just that we had all witnessed this scenario play out over the years time and time again, always coming close and always letting our achilles’ heel or just bad luck get the best of us. Look, I’m relatively young. At thirty, I’ve only been alive to experience and really understand the heartbreak since 1995, when the Cleveland Indians went to the World Series and lost. I had spoken to Mike Hargrove, Sandy Alomar, and Bobby D. of the Indians earlier that year. They all told me what it was like to hold that bottle of cold champagne, ready to pop it open, only to watch it get rolled away to the other locker room with tears in their years. But not this time. This time was actually our time – just as I had wished, hoped, prayed, and yes BELIEVED. And it came true. The champagne was ours to drink. But of course after a good cry. We’re good at that. We’ve had years to practice, but these were tears of joy.  

 

I think I finally broke when I saw Tyronn Lue just sitting there on the bench, holding his head in his hands, sobbing, letting the sweat towel absorb the last five months of stress that actually paid off. And then LeBron, collapsed on the floor,  living out the prophecy that he proclaimed as a teenager. He knew it could be done, but he had no idea how hard it was going to be. Literally, no other NBA team has come back after being down three games in the finals. “Against all odds,” he said. “I don’t know why the man above gives me the hardest road, but … the man above don’t put you in situations that you can’t handle. I just kept that same positive attitude. Instead of saying why me, I said this is what He wants me to do. And, uh, Cleveland — this is for you!”

 

 

LeBron, you’re the best. And I think we can all learn a little something from that. We can also learn a little something from Uncle Drew – performing under pressure and making every play, every shot, including that last amazing three-pointer count. For the record, I love you Kyrie. I’ll name my first born after you. 

 

And then there’s JR Smith who gave one of the most heartfelt, gracious speeches I’ve ever heard – thanking his own parents for raising him the way they did, wearing his emotions on his sleeve as he wept to a filled room of reporters. The media gave him a standing ovation. The City of Cleveland then gave the entire team a five hour standing ovation at the celebration parade and rally. No, there were no fires. The city did not explode as many fans predicted. But it did erupt with joy and the entire greater metro region, including fans abroad, united in one very small concentrated area to give thanks to the team that personified our native hard-working culture and internal fight to come out on top just this once.

 

It made me so happy to witness my father’s unwavering devotion finally pay off as he smiled, giddy like a kid, at the players passing by on their floats, some shirtless, some not. Fans, young and old, rejoicing together! It was an experience like no other. All smiles. And an unforgettable month of June that included a week-long celebration and greeting the team at the I-X Center as they deplaned to watch LeBron hoist that trophy over his shoulders. The fans couldn’t be more grateful to The Cavs for finally bringing home a championship for us all to enjoy.

 

I always knew they could do it, but of course there were trials and tribulations. I guess I had my positivity and faith restored after Game 5. But then after winning Game 6, there was this unfamiliar sense of calm and gratitude that resonated throughout the entire Land that made many of us believe we had this. You could see it in the newscaster’s and weather woman’s eyes as they gave their reports. Sunny skies. You could smell a win in the air. Yes, my tummy was a rumblin’ the entire day leading up to and during Game 7, but the Cavs persevered and powered through the rhetoric of the opposing team’s fans and the fight of the Warriors. And let me remind those of you who must be reminded – Draymond Green and company had two more chances to win just one more game TOGETHER, and they couldn’t. But good effort. They are a great team. But as Clevelanders know all too well, someone has to finish second.  

 

 CLUTCH

 

I feel like I’m living in a fairy tale. Seriously. And this is our happily ever after. As I mentioned earlier, there is no Great and Powerful Oz behind the curtain controlling the game, and I don’t think the Illuminati was in on this new sports world order, but I do think this is our destiny. And our destiny includes winning a championship in true Cleveland fashion, making history, and yes, breaking a few records in the process! Maybe He (God) does play a role. Maybe He’s a basketball fan. But I’d like to think that we, the fans, and the City of Cleveland manifested this giant orb of positive energy (you know, like that pink bubble that Glinda The Good Witch uses) around an exceptionally talented group of guys who gave it their all and who really deserved and wanted it. And finally we finished in first.

 

With the pressure off who knows, maybe it will happen again next year. But we may not have to wait that long! The Cleveland Indians are on a thirteen game winning streak and are in first place in the American League.  Why not a World Series win too? My dad told me later that night (of Game 7) after recovering from shock, that he’s greedy now. He wants more! The man got a crock- pot, an NBA Championship, and crab cakes for Father’s Day, so why not get greedy? He’s waited long enough. Maybe Charlie Brown will finally kick that game winning field goal for the Browns (That was a joke). No but seriously, we have an AHL Calder Cup (I apologize for not giving The Monsters the credit they deserved before), an NBA Championship, a UFC heavyweight title, and we’re winning baseball games. So far, 2016 has been a fantastic year for Cleveland sports. Let’s keep going. After all, the curse is finally broken! #Allin2016 #Clevelandisthecity #ultimatewarrior #MVP! 

 

 


LeBron is King, and I finally have to admit it

Written by :
Published on : June 22, 2016

 

 

If you haven’t yet seen that Game 7 from Sunday, then you should go find it and watch it right now. Despite there being a total of only 4 points scored in the last four-plus minutes, it was one of the greatest basketball games I’ve ever seen. The outcome was not the one that would have pleased me the most but the game itself couldn’t have been better. It was a back and forth battle that was highlighted by a LeBron James triple double. He finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks.

 

Although the game was close for its entirety, it was a tale of two halves. Draymond Green was the star of the first half, going 5-for-5 from the 3-point line and 8-for-10 from the field overall. He was killing it. The Saginaw, Michigan product was dominating the game. I remember wondering aloud with my fellow Michiganders here in LA, if the Cavs would be able to adjust and slow Draymond down in the second half. The Cavs did adjust, and they did slow down Draymond Green. He finished 1 assist shy of a triple-double, but did not impact the game in the same way during the second half.

 

View post on imgur.com

   

No, it wasn’t Draymond who made the biggest second half impact, it was everyone’s (myself included) favorite player to hate, LeBron James, who stole the show to end Game 7. It could have been Steph Curry but he was too busy throwing the championship trophy away with ridiculously ill-timed behind the back passes or missing shots. The Warriors were stifled by the defensive efforts of the Cavs, and LeBron James especially, and that’s why they lost Game 7 after leading the series 3-1. You can point to suspension of Draymond Green, but that was only for Game 5. No excuses for Games 6 and 7. In fact, I would say Andrew Bogut’s injury was a bigger factor than the Green suspension.

 

After losing the center in Game 5, the Warriors were not able to fill the void he left and were out-rebounded by the Cavs in both of the final two games by a total of 93 to 74. Despite the rebounding disparity, the Warriors had every chance to win this thing and they didn’t. It seems to me like Steph Curry wasn’t really himself out there and we will probably hear soon that he was much more hampered by injuries than he let on, but you can’t use that against LeBron James. It’s because of him that the city of Cleveland has its first championship in any sport since 1964. They should make a statue of him and it should be of this late game block on Andre Iguodala.    

 

 

That block says everything you need to know about LeBron James’ effort in these NBA Finals, and really the playoffs as a whole. It might have been Kyrie Irving’s late 3-pointer that sealed it up and LeBron never could have done it without his team, especially Uncle Drew, but it was the willpower, determination and other-worldly talent of King James that brought Cleveland a championship. He is the greatest player in the world, and after leading that outrageous series comeback against the team that set the NBA single season win record by going 73-9, LeBron now resides in an upper-echelon of basketball lore previously occupied solely by Michael Jordan. And he’s only 31 years old.

 

He might not quite yet be Michael Jordan, but he’s getting there. And that’s just something I have to get used to, even if I don’t like it. Like Michael Jordan, LeBron James last step to greatness came by overcoming my beloved Detroit Pistons, who were the main early career roadblock to both of those all-time great NBA players. Because of that fact, I’ve never been a very big fan of either. I recognize the tremendous talent but that doesn’t mean I have to cheer for them always winning. But I’m now certain that they are the two best basketball players ever. Unlike Jordan, LeBron James seemingly runs the franchise too. He is the only person I’ve ever seen get their head coach fired while the team sat in 1st place in the conference, then pretty much pick out a successor, then go on to win it all.

 

I still don’t really like LeBron all that much, and I’m almost sure that he was totally full of shit for his manufactured emotional reaction to winning that Game 7 but I’m grateful for what he did in the playoffs this year. It was a sight to behold and I’m not sure I’ll ever get to see a comeback like that again. So here’s to you LeBron James. Thanks for the memories.

 

 

 


I Believe in the Cavs

Written by :
Published on : June 19, 2016

 

 

 

A beautiful, hope-filled mural has greeted Cleveland fans at each home game this NBA Finals. It will greet fans one more time as they fill up seats in Quicken Loans Arena and just outside at Gateway Plaza during the Game 7 watch party. But before I go any further, let me repeat two of the greatest words in the world to LeBron James and to Cleveland fans near and far: GAME SEVEN.

 

brinda - believe

 

It’s what we hoped for last year, and what we finally got this year – another chance for a title and our best chance to break the championship drought thus far. The journey has once again proven to be unpredictable, frustrating at times, and awe-inspiring at others. The Cleveland fans, organization, and players have all shared in this emotional rollercoaster that we can only hope will end with that windblown look of amazement and happiness that you feel when it finally comes to a stop… even when you don’t want it to. But it will tomorrow night when the winds of fate blow through the bay once more.  

 

This season has got me thinking a lot about fate, facts, conspiracy, and superstition. Many Clevelanders have blamed the drought on a curse. Many Golden State fans will blame their losses on conspiracy (Steph Curry’s wife included). But when it comes down to it, the forces at play here aren’t hiding behind the curtain. There is no Great and Powerful Oz with unexplainable magic who can grant our wishes. But what is at play is special and resembles magic in a lot of ways. The magic is in the numbers, in the performances, in the incredible athleticism of LeBron James, and yes, his team. He has proven he can do it all. And his teammates (well most of them) have proven that they can follow his lead.

 

GTY 540879300 S SPO BKO BKN USA OH

 

That call and response could be seen in Game 6 as J.R. Smith lobbed the basketball up as if to no one – just to have LeBron come soaring in for one of the most exciting alley-oops I’ve ever witnessed. Or as Kyrie Irving hit shot after shot to match LeBron’s insane efforts in Game 5. That same call and response triggered another appropriate reaction with the fans who fed off that energy and transferred it right back to the team with deafening screams of wonder and joy.

 

When LeBron James announced his return a couple of summers ago, the city responded with another mural, a massive mural downtown that confirmed hope had returned, not only for our sports teams, but for our city on the brink of a downtown resurgence. Sure, he is not the answer to all of our problems. He is not the only piece to this puzzle as the city continues to rebuild and redefine itself. But he is a symbol of hope, of inspiration, and the possibilities that are to come for our community, our people, and our sports teams. And come time Game 7, we are all witness to what could be the end of Cleveland’s second place past and a new era of success led by one of our own.

 

lebron wall

 

I pray the team slept well last night, just as LeBron and company did this past Thursday, fresh off a win. No, I don’t think there will be any more sleepovers this season (as I had mentioned and hoped for in my previous articles). And I no longer believe in my own conspiracy that Anderson Varejao is secretly trying to help the Cavs (unless it’s to demonstrate how to pull off a successful flop). But I do believe in what I see, in what fans see, in what my father sees, who is the biggest sports fan I know – which is hope, which is talent, and what is at many times unbelievably awesome to witness. I believe in the Cavs. I believe in LeBron. And I do believe that history can be made for Cleveland tonight, in epic fashion after trailing by three, with one more win. Believe it. We’re all in.

 

all in cleveland

 

And for all the Cleveland loving fathers out there, including my own, Greg Brinda, AKA @sirfranksnbacon, AKA The Dean of Cleveland Sports Talk, here’s to the best Father’s Day present you could ask for…that long awaited championship. You deserve it.

 

 


League gets their way as the NBA Finals head to Game 6

Written by :
Published on : June 14, 2016

 

 

 

The NBA dropped a bomb on the basketball world when they suspended Draymond Green for Game 5 of the NBA Finals. It was the result of getting his 3rd flagrant foul of the playoffs, one that was given to him retroactively by the league for hitting LeBron James in the groin as James stepped over him during the 4th quarter of Game 4. Here’s the play in question:

 

 

I understand that Draymond had been warned by the league, and that he has already displayed poor judgment and an affinity for attacking the nuts of other players during these playoffs, but I’ve got to say that this is pretty weak. There’s not a player in the league that wouldn’t have responded in similar fashion and the contact with LeBron’s groin area looks incidental.

 

I thought this when I first heard about the suspension and I think it now; The league made this move solely to try and ensure a Game 6. And it worked! Here are a few reactions to the suspension that I tend to agree with.

 

 

 


Last night the Cavaliers won Game 6 on the road in decisive fashion, by a score of 112-97. For most of the game it was closer but the Cavs pulled away in the second half and the absence of Draymond Green was noticeable. So noticeable that LeBron James and Kyrie Irving became the first teammates ever to both score more than 40 points in an NBA Finals game. That’s not to take anything away from the fact that they stepped it up when it really mattered, but you can’t help but think that things would have gone differently with Green on the floor. And you can’t deny that the Golden State Warriors were hindered by their inability to switch on defense without him.

 

This was a masterful orchestration by the NBA that seems to have gone according to plan. On the brink of another short NBA Finals series, the league had to be nervous about all the money they would be losing out on without a Game 6 or 7. They found something that wasn’t even called during the game and used it to severely hinder the Warriors hopes of winning their second consecutive NBA Championship on their home court. Way to go guys.

 

 

It’s totally reasonable to think that the Cavs could have still won Game 5 with Draymond on the floor, especially when you factor in the performances of James, who was in vintage form. He found an outside shot that has been missing from his repertoire for quite some time now. He was on fire and deserves a ton of credit for sending the series back to Cleveland, and putting the Warriors’ chances of going back-to-back in jeopardy.

 

But you have to think that the NBA should get a little credit too. By suspending Draymond Green they took just a little bit of the decision of the game’s outcome out of the player’s hands and off the basketball court and put it in the hands of the league. And that’s not good for the game of basketball or the NBA.

 

 


One More Shot

Written by :
Published on : June 13, 2016

 

 

After Game 4 of the NBA Finals the Cavs must now fight back for The Land on Monday night. More specifically, LeBron James and company must fight for their hometown and everything that it stands for to secure a win and a Game 6. He must lead his team to victory by making sure everyone brings their A-game. And that A-game requires stamina, great defense, making buckets, and a team chemistry that has been lackluster compared to the Warriors, who also have a strong bench.

 

My father, Greg Brinda, aka @SirFranksnBacon, reminded me early on and even after the Warriors were down three games against the Oklahoma City Thunder, that we can’t underestimate the talent of Golden State. He was right. After all, they did win 73 games during the regular season. It seems like this NBA regular and playoff season has been record breaking for both the Cavs and Warriors, but at the end of the day records won’t matter. What will matter is a NBA Championship. But is it still possible for the Cavs to win three games in a row, to win a championship for Cleveland after this kind of disappointment? We thought we had all of the pieces in place. Now, I’m not so sure. Now, it’s one game at a time.  

 

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                                                The look of LeBron’s disappointment after the Game 4 loss.

 

The only thing we can do as fans is to keep hope alive. In fact, I went to my first ever NBA Finals game this past Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena for Game 4. Along with nearly 20,500 other fans who brought their A-game, we cheered and roared as loud as we could. But let’s face it. As fans, we have the easy job. This is what the Brinda squad believes will have to happen in order for the Cavs to bring home a championship (in no particular order):

 

  1. LeBron will have to play the kind of basketball we know and love him for. You know the aggressive, breathtaking kind of B-Ball that redefines the sport itself.
  2. Kyrie will have to share the ball. No more ball-hogging. No more trying to school Curry. After all, there’s no “Kyrie” in “team.”
  3. J.R. Smith will actually have to hit three point shots in all four quarters, and a lot of them. Period.
  4. LeBron and Tristan Thompson will have to make their free throws. Come on guys. You’ve been doing this since you were kids. It’s the first thing you learn. Plus, it’s a part of both of your very large salaries. That goes for everyone else.
  5. DEFENSE. Stomp. Stomp. DEFENSE. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. When the guy on the other team goes for a shot, block it or at least try to stop the shot. Basketball 101. Also, we weren’t afraid to try and steal the ball before the Finals… so let’s do that now. There’s nothing more satisfying than to see Steph Curry having his favorite toy taken from him (and I’m not talking about his mouthpiece).
  6. Let’s hope that Golden State has a bad shooting night.
  7. Let’s hope that the Cavs have a GREAT shooting night.
  8. Tyronn, can you coach-up a little and be aggressive? Like break your clipboard when you get angry and yell at your team to do their job? Or tell LeBron to shut up and listen? Any emotion really would be good.
  9. Hope that the NBA suspends Draymond Green for hitting players in the nuts. Oh wait, they already did!!! But when he comes back, let’s show him a taste of his own medicine and get Dahntay Jones in for a few minutes.
  10. Let’s hope that the toilets overflow in the Golden State locker room right before game time. It’s an old arena. Nobody likes being chased by their own poop. Or haunted for that matter. And nobody likes getting their new sneakers dirty. (Cough. Cough. Steph Curry.)
  11. If Master Chef Curry thinks he can bring the heat in his new shoes, then the Cavs should bring back the affordable Starbury to cook up a win at a much lower cost. Sure the stakes are high, but why the price of the shoe? Let’s show future generations that championships can be won without breaking the bank. #Doitforthekids.
  12. Kevin, just keep getting up and shooting the ball. For the love of Love, try to stay in the game without getting hurt!
  13. Someone get Delly a Dilly Bar! Just keep the energy and ferocity up. You don’t need to be a hero. You don’t need to make threes. Just do what you do best. Get in their face like the hyper, sugar filled man-kid you are!
  14. Massive food poisoning at the Golden State team meeting (totally coincidental of course).
  15. Play Channing Frye more and pat your fearless defender, Richard Jefferson, on the back for doing his job.
  16. Think of your fans. The fans who stand for four quarters and bring their A-game. The community that comes together to support their hometown team even if they now live in other states or countries! Sure, Golden State wants to win a championship at home for their fans. And if this goes to a game seven, most Clevelanders will be watching from afar, but we’ll take it. We want that win even more and we’ll keep the cheers coming from across the land, across the sea, until you hear us loud and clear – We love you Cavs! (Even if you do piss us off sometimes) We know you can do it!

 

kevin-love-kyrie-irving-jr-smith-tristan-thompson-db726cf1465c917d
                                                                 The guys need to get back to having fun.

 

Lastly, go out there and have fun. I’m sure LeBron and his teammates understand the magnitude of Game 5. But they can’t let it get to them. Instead, I hope they are enjoying every moment of being in the Finals – just as LeBron reminded them before the start of game one. This opportunity is special and in many ways a privilege. And as Jim Thome once told me, “You have to cherish every moment of it.” So I hope they are sitting at the Buena Vista Cafe this morning, taking in the breeze of the bay, listening to the seals bark at the tourists, and sipping on a nice Irish Coffee (sans alcohol of course). I hope they are reading the funnies in the newspaper or playing a game of chess with the local elders. Maybe Kyrie found a local court last night somewhere in Oakland and introduced Uncle Drew to a few young bloods. Hopefully, he took JR Smith with him to shake off his typical Finals jitters. Perhaps Kevin Love met up with his childhood buddy, Klay Thompson, and had a good catch.

 

It is just a game. But it can mean so much more to future, past, and present generations that look to their sports teams for inspiration, distraction, and yes, love (in some weird way). The Cavs just need to go out there, have fun, and do what they sometimes do best – WIN. After all, the pressure’s finally off! The drought has officially been broken since this past Saturday when the Lake Erie Monsters took home the Calder Cup! (I hope you know that AHL Hockey Championships don’t really count.) #Cavsinseven.

 

 


The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t dead yet

Written by :
Published on : June 9, 2016

 

 

What a minute, shut up for a second… Can you hear that? I think it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers heartbeat…

 

Just when people were digging holes and getting ready to throw in the lifeless bodies of LeBron James & Co, Believeland came back to life and reminded the world that this is still a team that only lost two games throughout the entire Eastern Conference playoffs. After losing by 33 points in Game 2 on the road, the Cavs came back home and made a statement by beating the Golden State Warriors by 30 points.

 

 This photo is metaphor for Steph Curry’s Finals experience. He just can’t get there.

 

The Cavs continued to minimize Steph Curry’s impact on the game via their defensive efforts, as they have for the entire series thus far, but unlike the first two games, the rest of the team wasn’t able to fill the void. Curry finished with 19 points overall after having just 2 points in the first half. For the MVP that isn’t enough to get it done. Not only was the shot not falling, but Steph looked completely off last night, as he has for the entirety of these NBA Finals. On this night, Cleveland was a much better team and feeding off of the electric atmosphere of The Q, they sent a message to the world that they should not be counted out.

 

With an aged Richard Jefferson stepping in to start for the injured Kevin Love, Cleveland was all over Golden State from the get-go. There was never a tie or a lead change after the first points were scored by the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was a drastic change in the defensive energy without Love, which means there will be a tough decision for head coach Tyronn Lue when Love clears the NBA’s concussion protocol. Obviously, he is going to start once he is healthy but you can’t deny that his absence coincided with a change for the better in most aspects of the Cavs’ game.

 

 Kyrie was on his game.

 

In the past, falling into such a deficit and losing in such a fashion to start the NBA Finals would cause LeBron James to try to take over the game and win it himself. But it seems that this year he has learned his lesson. He may have led the team in points in Game 3 but it was the awakening of Kyrie Irving that made all the difference. Uncle Drew (30 points) was 7-9 from the floor in the first quarter and was an integral part of the Cavs’ 19-4 run to open the game. With the help of JR Smith (20 points) and Tristan Thompson (14 points), Kyrie and everyone not named King James made sure that this time things would be different.

 

Before we go saying that the momentum has totally shifted, we should realize that the Golden State Warriors have lost all five of their Game 3 matchups since the start of 2015 NBA Finals. They are probably just cursed. They do say that bad things come in 3’s. I guess they meant Game 3’s, because this one was really bad and if they don’t rebound and the Cavaliers win Game 4, all bets are off.

 

For today, the Cleveland Cavaliers have life. They were the better team in every way and they deserved this win. If they can do it again, we might just have a series on our hands. If not, they are dead. Maybe this time for good.

 

 


Why They Can Win: NBA Finals

Written by :
Published on : June 2, 2016

 

 

The Golden State Warriors just crawled from a dark hole with incredible and triumphant feats of basketball fury. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been been patiently waiting, loaded and fully healthy. These NBA finals are far from a repeat of last year, as the tired Warriors will face up against a transformed Cleveland team that paces and spaces, with less reliance on last year’s bully-ball. There are also new questions, like how the Dubs will play after a truly legendary performance against an Oklahoma City Thunder team that took them to the limit? Here’s why each team can win.

 

Golden State Warriors:

Klay and Steph

 

Legendary Shooting

The fact that Klay Thompson and Steph Curry play on the same team is historically unfair, as these two will surely stack up as two of the five greatest shooters of all time. So it can’t be ignored that at any point, no matter what you do, either one of these guys might decide to casually open the Ark of the Covenant, like in Game Six of the Western Conference Finals, when Klay dropped ELEVEN THREES. If the Thunder couldn’t handle it, the Cavs certainly don’t have the defensive tools.

 

Adaptability

Steve Kerr and the players acquitted themselves equally well in the Conference finals, as the team demonstrated that they can handle changing on the fly to adapt to the matchups. When it became clear that Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala needed to swap places for the sake of Iguodala’s defense of Durant, the team was able to do that. Cool heads prevailed, egos were checked, and they showed that they can take a champion’s knockout blow and come back swinging.

 

Draymond vs. Any Cavalier Not Named LeBron

Save for LeBron, I don’t think there’s a single player on the Cavs that has either the mental or testicular fortitude, both literally speaking, to withstand the veritable onslaught that is Draymond Green. How many times did we see Draymond intensely staring down someone nine feet taller than him in the last series, fearless and victorious? Steven Adams is as tough as they come, and held up admirably. Kevin Love? Super-talented marshmallow. Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Tristan Thompson? Perhaps only the latter has the physique to match up with Draymond’s octo-hands, but doesn’t have the offensive skill. He’ll be in their heads, grills, and business.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers: 

Lebronkyrielove

 

Fresh Bodies

Although a marshmallow, Kevin Love gets buckets, passes the ball sharply, and rebounds. Pair that with Kyrie Irving’s health, and that’s a major duo of talent to buoy LeBron. He’s the star, but now he can take up different spots on the floor, especially in the post with Kevin Love providing space in the corner. With that capability, the floor’s balance changes, and Matthew Dellavedova’s hideous game stays on the bench for longer.

 

Fresh Voices

It has to matter that the Cavaliers no longer hate their coach. For all of David Blatt’s competence, it’s well-established that he was disliked by the players, and that he was openly ignored in time-outs. We all saw it live. I think LeBron “changing the plays” is an idiotic narrative since this is something entrusted to almost every team’s best player, no less the best player on earth. But still, players seemed to cross the line from dislike to disrespect, and that’s not a formula for success. It’s unclear to me whether it was LeBron’s willpower that helped to right the ship against the Raptors in the Eastern Finals, or whether Tyronn Lue simply reminded the players that they were much better than the opponent. Either way, they got there with relatively little pain involved. They got through the entirety of these playoffs by playing coherent, then crisp, and then deadly offense. Something is clearly working.

 

Fresh Stories

If LeBron is one thing, he’s aware. No, wait — it’s great at basketball. Regardless, he’s extremely aware of the narrative in this playoffs and how this might affect the story of his career. LeBron is a multifaceted ingenious billionaire who is arguably the greatest athlete of all time —  he knows what people are saying about Steph, about the Warriors and greatness. He knows what it would mean for him to tear down that hegemony like the totem poles being pulled down by unruly campers at Kamp Krusty. Mix that awareness with the indefatigable brilliance of his game, that he’s at once the living-breathing best passer in the world and the most unstoppable penetrator in the game, and the results could be deadly for the Dubs.

 

 

Who will triumph, and who will fall apart?  Will LeBron’s greatness overcome two-time MVP Steph Curry and the all-time force that is a 73-win juggernaut? The NBA Finals begin June 2nd, so stay with ScoreBoredSports for all takes, both hot and too hot to handle.

 

 


A Letter to the Cavs from a Grateful Fan

Written by :
Published on : May 28, 2016

 

 

Dear Cleveland Cavaliers,

 

Thank you for accepting the challenge, for fighting through matchup after matchup, for weathering the injuries, for your patience in times of mental and physical turmoil, for balling like some ballers, and for winning the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Needless to say,  it’s been a long road. Yes, at this time last year we were advancing to the finals, but without Kyrie who went down in overtime, never to return in the 2014-15 NBA post season. Not to mention Kevin Love who endured a debilitating shoulder injury against Boston in round one. But the limited bench showed up and put on a performance that inspired the hungry Cleveland crowd, and even won two games in the finals. By the way, those finals wins were a first in Cavs history. Pushing, scraping, and Dellying our way to a game six, our luck and our energy finally ran out when Golden State took home the trophy.

 

It was a slow start to the 2015-16 season. Kyrie was still recovering. The wins were there, but not as fruitful as your typical cornucopia. It took a while before Stella Got Her Groove Back. But everything comes in cycles. As we lost Anderson Varejao to a torn achilles right before Christmas last year, we were gifted with a healthy yet rusty Kyrie as the holidays approached. With the New Year came new beginnings – and I’m talking big changes, as head Coach David Blatt was let go and Tyronn Lue went from highest paid associate to top diggity dog (but not the highest paid head coach of course). Could he live up to the challenge we asked? Or would LeBron be doing most of the coaching?

 

Some say Tyronn has stood his ground. And it’s undeniable that LeBron has had a significant impact on how the team has arrived to where they are today. I’m sure it was a little of this, a little of that. A lot of healthy eating, a lot of hard work, and a little partying in between – hence LeBron’s Prince Halloween costume. RIP Prince.

 

LeBronAsPrince

 

But after witnessing the heartwarming energy of the fans last year and hearing those echoes of hope continue to ring throughout The Land and across the country this year, I am sure that our faith has not faded. Our trust in our team is strong. We believe we can win because we’ve seen it, and we’ve seen it done well. We’ve also witnessed how a fan base can truly uplift or deflate their hometown heroes or sworn enemies depending on who’s turf we’re meeting on. And when we say ALL IN, it’s not because basketball is all we have, it’s because we’re giving one hundred percent just like our guys.

 

It’s an energy, connection, and love that breaks borders, boundaries, and bloodlines. But what we have in common is where we’re from and who we are playing for. We have pride in our team and our team embodies the spirit of our city. A city that we love and a city that deserves a championship. After all, we are all fans. Even LeBron is a fan. And he knows the power of the fandom, united. He even acknowledged the power of the Toronto fan base – which included Drake giving high fives at the end of the game. Not sure Lowry cared about Drake…But don’t feel sorry for Toronto. They played well. They still have hockey, sort of.

 

Drake raptors

 

It was great to see Mr. Cavalier, aka Austin Carr, stand with the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers to hoist that Eastern Conference Championship trophy above their heads. He’s been there since the beginning. He’s almost seen many a championship. But something tells me that this year is history in the making and I’m so happy he’s a part of it.

 

Whether it’s OKC or Golden State, I believe we are ready to take on either team. My dad, aka @SirFranksnBacon, aka the Dean of Cleveland Sports, Greg Brinda, recently quoted sworn Starfleet enemy, Khan, on his post game show, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” But if we play OKC we’ll have home court advantage, which means our fans will have a say in these first two games. Don’t worry. We won’t underestimate either opponent. We’ll have to make adjustments accordingly, but there’s a sense of calm and confidence that eases my fears. I’m not used to that feeling, and I’m not even sure of what to think about that right now, but I’ll take it.

 

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the final minutes of their 97 to 89 win over the Atlanta Hawks during Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals of the 2015 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

 

Just like the original Goonie, Mikey, preaches to his team from the depths of the Oregon coast, Don’t you realize? The next time you see sky, it’ll be over another town. The next time you take a test, it’ll be in some other school. Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what’s right for them. Because it’s their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it’s our time. It’s our time down here. That’s all over the second we ride up Troy’s bucket.”

 

And we’re not riding up Troy’s bucket until we have a championship.

 

 


3 Improbable ways the Raptors can beat the Cavs

Written by :
Published on : May 17, 2016

 

You may have read my Western Conference Finals preview, highlighting three reasons the Thunder will beat the Warriors, and three reasons the Warriors will beat the Thunder. I’m obviously a man of clear, concise opinions. Well this one is going to be a little different. With my apologies to Drake, I just don’t think the Raptors have a realistic shot to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers. I know, Toronto fans feel like they get no respect. They’re playing up in Canada with no nationally televised games and no one is taking them seriously, even with second best record in the Eastern Conference.

 

But the fact is, you’re going up against a team that has LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Your answer to that is DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Jonas Valanciunas, who’s out for game one and doubtful for game two. Don’t get me wrong, those are good players, but Cleveland has great players. You’re running into a Cavs team that’s playing their best ball since bringing LeBron back to Cleveland and assembling their big three. The Cavs swept their way through the first two rounds with ease, while out-Warriors-ing the Warriors by shooting a ridiculous 46.2% from beyond the arc while knocking down 16.8 three-pointers per game.

 

There’s always one big question for any team preparing for a series against LeBron James: Who’s going to guard him? Toronto’s big offseason free agent acquisition, DeMarre Carroll, will likely take the bulk of this task, as he did as a member of the Hawks last season when they were swept by the Cavs. LeBron averaged 30.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 9.3 assists in that series (not too shabby). Carroll is an underrated player, and he’s capable of playing the lockdown defender role at times, but that tends to change when the man you’re trying to lock down is LeBron James.

 

I’m not trying to bring you down, Raptors fans. I just see two teams that are on completely different levels right now. Is it possible that the Raptors could knock off the Cavaliers and advance to the NBA Finals? Sure. But a lot of crazy stuff would have to happen to lead to that result. So here it is…

 

 

3 Improbable ways the Raptors can beat the Cavs:

 

1. LeBron retires

LeBron press conference
                                         We just hope he wears that hat to the retirement press conference.

 

LeBron James never really runs into serious injuries, so it might be more likely that he retires before, or during, the Eastern Conference Finals. Maybe he pulls a Michael Jordan and wants to try another sport while he still has some good years left in his body. There’s always been talk that he could play in the NFL. OTAs start in about a week for most teams, so if he wants to take a shot at a football career, now is the time. Or maybe he decides he wants to leave Cleveland again and go back to Miami, but he wants to get it over with before Cavs fans get their championship and become that much more attached. If, by some unforeseen circumstance, LeBron James doesn’t end up playing in the series, the Raptors would have a pretty good shot. Unfortunately, they will likely be facing a Cavaliers team that will feature LeBron James playing a lot of minutes in every game and doing a lot of incredible LeBron James things. This means Cleveland will likely be coasting back into the NBA Finals. Unless…

 

 

2. The Cavs get Bismack’d!

Get Bismack'd!
                                                                                  Get Bismack’d!

 

Ok, I’ll admit, I just wanted to work Bismack’d into an article… But the Raptors backup center, Bismack Biyombo, will actually be a key factor in this series. Not only does he feature one of the best names in the NBA, but he proved he can be a force down low against Miami. When starting center, Jonas Valanciunas, went down in game three with a sprained ankle, Biyombo stepped in admirably. Starting the final four games of the series, Biyombo averaged 11.0 points, 12.0 rebounds, and 2.5 blocks per game.

 

Biyombo has shown he’s up for the challenge before. In the 22 games he started in the regular season, he averaged 12.2 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. He also led the league in Bismacks, but apparently that’s still not an official NBA statistic. He’s an athletic, high energy big man who can rebound on both sides of the court, swat shots, and find ways to get points down low. Sure, it may be overly optimistic to think Bismack Biyombo could be the secret weapon that gives Toronto an edge against Cleveland. But with Valanciunas expected to miss the first game, and likely more, the Raptors will need to rely heavily on their Congolese big man. I’m just hoping he plays well enough to keep his name relevant so I can keep saying Bismack Biyombo. Try it: Bismack Biyombo… Watch out Cleveland, or you might just get Bismack’d!

 

 

3. The Raptors make the Cavs a one-man show

Can they make him do it alone?
                                                              Can they make him do it alone?

 

I’ll admit it, the odds of LeBron James retiring in the middle of the conference finals are very slim. The odds of Bismack Biyombo putting the Raptors on his shoulders and leading them to a major upset over Cleveland might be even slimmer, regardless of how cool his name is. Unless the Raptors are counting on a series of shocking misfortunes to strike the Cavaliers, much like the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant softball team faced, causing Mr. Burns to lose all of his MLB ringers leading up to their big game against Shelbyvillle, Toronto will have to find a way to limit the effectiveness of as many Cavs as possible.

 

They’re not going to stop LeBron, but they can do their best to tempt him into shooting instead of letting him drive to the hole, draw fouls, get dunks and lay-ups, and make amazing passes to open shooters. If they clog up driving and passing lanes and limit LeBron’s ability to rack up assists, he’ll still do some damage in other ways, but it will at least help take guys like J.R. Smith and Channing Frye out of the game. It will also force Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to create offense on their own instead of relying on LeBron’s playmaking abilities.

 

Kyle Lowry can potentially outplay Irving and win the point guard battle, and Love can be mentally taken out of games when he gets frustrated. Bottom line, the Raptors need to do a much better job limiting the production of Cleveland’s ensemble cast (we’ll call them the LeBronnettes) than the Hawks did, and they are certainly capable of doing that. But even if Toronto does turn Cleveland into a one-man show, that one man is still LeBron freaking James! Remember, when Springfield lost all their ringers, they still had one left: Darryl Strawberry. That one man was still able to lead them to victory (I know, Mr. Burns pinch-hit Homer for Strawberry and Homer got beaned with the bases loaded to score the winning run, but that totally ruins my analogy).

 

Cavs in 5.

 

 


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