3 adjustments the Cavs need to make after game one

Written by :
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.

 

 


Reflecting on History Made

Written by :
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! 

 

 


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.  

 

maxresdefault
                                                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.

 

 


Anderson Varejao – The Spy With Shaggy Hair

Written by :
Published on : March 11, 2016

 

 

 

I know what you’re thinking. Anderson Varejao is pissed. He got traded by the Cavs and now he wants revenge. So what does he do? He signs with the enemy – The Golden State Warriors. The team that unfortunately took home the NBA Finals trophy after a tough fought, six game battle. How could the team that he spent 12 years with just up and let him go like that? Especially when LeBron actually likes the guy. But how could you not like Anderson Varejao? That lovable smile, the gorgeous hair, and did I mention his amazing rebounding abilities?

 

He was Tristan Thompson’s mentor dognabit! And although some people might find this hard to believe, I think Cleveland grew on him. I know it’s no Brazil or Barcelona, but Clevelanders embraced him…so much in fact that on February 21st, 2006 they tried to break the world record for most people wearing a wig in a single venue. They were wearing the Anderson Varejao wig…20,562 of them! If that’s not love then I don’t want to know what love is. P.S. I sleep with my wig on every night. Just kidding. No, I’m not.

 

varejao Wig

 

I do honestly believe that he enjoyed living near the beautiful Great Lake of Erie, in a city with a booming medical-based economy. For a guy that has dislocated his right shoulder, torn a tendon is his right ankle, broke his wrist, suffered a blood clot in his lung, nursed some back problems, and most recently tore his achilles, it’s smart to play in a city with excellent medical care, fantastic Slavic food, hard-working individuals, lots of bowling alleys…you get my point. And yes, assume that I too love Cleveland.

 

Which leads me to my next point. Why did the Cavs get rid of him? I’ve talked to my father, long-time Cleveland sports radio personality, Greg Brinda, who admits that Varejao is a bit fragile. After all, he did miss most of the 2014-15 NBA season with his last injury. So given his track record and the fact that the Cavs kind of dominate in big ball basketball with a variety of effective power forwards and centers (even with Mr. Cement Hands, MOSGOV!!), the Cavs could actually use someone like Channing Frye, an experienced…wait! Another power forward/center?!! I guess he’s a superior perimeter shooter, but if it were me I probably would have traded for Kevin Durant. That could have happened, right?

 

Frye Varejao

 

Okay, so let’s get to the real reason why the Cavs traded Varejao to Portland who then released him, leaving him to sign with either the San Antonio Spurs, The Oklahoma City Thunder, The Atlanta Hawks, or yes The Golden State Warriors. So basically, Andy (I’m calling him Andy now), got his pick of the best kitty litter in town. Wow! Lucky him! Or was it luck at all? Maybe this was part of the Cavs’ ploy all along. And maybe, just maybe, Andy was in on it the whole time. Let me ask you. If you were nearing the end of your career, were prone to injuries, and wanted to be an effective component in helping your team win, why wouldn’t you sign with the enemy to gain valuable information that could be used to help the Cavs win? And then there’s the fact that Golden State really wanted him. So maybe Steph Curry’s looking for our secrets. Even better!

 

Steph Curry wants in on our secret plan. He wants to know what LeBron does before each game. How does he get that toned, muscular physique? How is he so versatile on the court? Sure, Steph is great at shooting threes, he’s versatile, good in clutch situations, but he’s small.  And when you mix in that CHILDISH mouth guard chewing habit, he looks like a junior-higher out there with his other small ball sidekicks.

 

steph mouthpiece

 

The Warriors won’t admit that they are scared. They have a great record. Right now, they are playing better than the Cavs or really any NBA team. And Curry is on track to get the MVP. Let me say that again…for right now. And with the recent firing of Coach David Blatt, I’m sure they think the pot is a stirrin’ in Cleveland. But deep down, they don’t want any surprises. They want to know what’s coming. And they want to grow…literally. So Andy will tell them: Salmon is out! Fuck salmon and all lean proteins! It’s all about the Barkley diet: Taco Bell for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! LeBron only works out once a week with a light jog and pilates. And Kyrie and Kevin Love? They are both on a similar meal plan and exercise regiments, but Kyrie substitutes pilates for Zumba and Love likes this new thing called Pop Pilates (it’s pilates to top music hits). Varejao will get them to believe this silliness, and hopefully the Warriors will begin to fizzle out.

 

But the truth is, it’s probably the other way around. The Cavs need to know the Warriors’ secrets. Now I love the CAVS! They are my team! But let’s be honest, they are not on track to beat the Warriors. And as my dad (aka @SirFranksnBacon) put it, “The Warriors are a fine-tuned machine. They are firing on all cylinders…not a lot of warts.” They play great defense, they obviously play superb offense, make clutch shots, and most importantly they have freakishly excellent team chemistry. CHEMISTRY. The only way the Cavs will stand a chance of beating the Warriors in the Finals is if the Big Three (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love) are consistently playing GREAT together. And since Coach Tyronn Lue took over with his fast-paced game approach, the Cavs defense has been lacking. That cannot happen when they get to the playoffs, let alone the Finals. Every member of the Cavs team needs to be on the same page, firing on all cylinders, with high-quality oil in the engine, if you know what I mean (#Gatorade).

 

cleveland big 3

 

So what’s the secret to the Warriors’ chemistry? That is what Andy is there to find out. I like to imagine that he just got home from a sleepover with his Warriors teammates. He’s thinking about the fun night that he just had…

 

Dream Sequence:

After hours of choreographing a dance to Informer and various hits from Jock Jams Volume 1, they make nachos with shredded beef, Velveeta, some diced tomatoes, chives, and sour cream. Then they watch Practical Magic and play Dream Phone. I can see Andy now, sitting across from Andre Iguodala. They are giggling as Andy answers the Dream Phone and gets his clue. “He loves pizza but he hates corn dogs!” They laugh, put on their pajamas, and turn on a scary movie. Probably The Exorcist. They all hold tight to their sleeping bags. Steph Curry bows out early. Says he has to put his daughter to bed, but really he’s just scared and maybe peed his boxers a little. As he’s tucking in little Riley, the bed begins to shake. He screams for his life! As his daughter tries to comfort him, Draymond Green peeks out from under the bed, smiling. “Got you this time, Stephy!”

 

“That wasn’t funny!” Steph yells, fighting back tears of horror. But Andy knows what to do in this situation. It’s time to play with each other’s hair. He’ll show them how he gets his curls to look this good. They brush, they braid, they laugh, and slowly fall asleep to the slower rendition of Cyndi Lauper’s, Girls Just Want To Have Fun. Together they dream of winning another championship, everyone except Andy who will wake in the middle of the night, lie beside Steph Curry and whisper into his ear, “Cavs Win,” softly, gently, until Steph’s pleasant dream turns into a horrifying nightmare.

End Dream Sequence

Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James, right, and Anderson Varejao, from Brazil, hug as the leave the floor late in the fourth quarter of a first-round NBA playoff basketball game against the Washington Wizards Sunday, April 22, 2007, in Cleveland. Cleveland won the first game of the best-of-seven series, 97-82. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

 

Andy will return home a few times this spring to coordinate the necessary bonding time that the Cavs need. Mo will be back, hitting threes like a boss. J.R. Smith won’t let the pressure get to him. Mosgov’s hands will become agile and coordinated. LeBron will show up to practice in his impressive Prince Halloween Costume to lighten the mood. The Big Three will be musketeering it up! Boobie Gibson will even perform his latest hip-hop hit, All In C-L-E, as the Cavs gear up for Game 7 of the Finals. They’ll laugh together. They’ll cry together. And by God, they’ll win together.

 

 


NBA MIDSEASON REVIEW

Written by :
Published on : February 20, 2016

 

 

Boy, was I wrong about a few teams and players in my 2016 NBA Preview (East & West).

 

I missed the mark, much like Kobe Bryant is missing three pointers, free throws, and dunks this season. After watching a lackluster All Star Game, arguably the BEST dunk contest ever, and a little more than half a season of NBA Basketball, I’ve come to eat my crow in front of you all.

 

The Lakers REALLY Stink

 

My favorite team sucks. Where did we go wrong? Perhaps giving Kobe a two year deal that has handcuffed their salary cap is a start. Also, letting Kobe’s influence drive Dwight Howard away is another point. Overall, they should not be confused with the Philadelphia 76ers; at least they have a plan. With only eleven wins on the season and fighting desperately to lose as many games as possible to secure their top three NBA draft pick, the only thing to look forward to is the countdown to Kobe’s last game. I’m sure I’ll cry as he walks off the floor for the last time as a player, but by June I HOPE the Lakers start the rebuild they’ve been holding off for three seasons.

 

I Underestimated the Will of a Champion

 

I thought that the Golden State Warriors would suffer from a championship hangover. I picked the Los Angeles Clippers to be a better team and have a better record than them. Well, clearly I was wrong with this one. Other than the San Antonio Spurs (whom I picked to be the best team in the league this year) there’s not a team that can challenge the Warriors. The Clippers aren’t a bad team as they have 35 wins thus far. Blake Griffin has had a hand (pun intended) in the team’s success thus far. The Warriors and Stephen Curry have a chance to make major history as the team is en route to a league record in wins for a single season and Curry can become a MVP in consecutive years. I am sorry Based God Chef Curry.

 

Why would I believe in these teams?

 

The Minnesota Timberwolves and Milwaukee Bucks had the makeup of playoff contenders. The Timberwolves have Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns as the face of their franchise. The Bucks have Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker in tow to lead theirs. Both teams are 13th in their respective conferences. Both teams have dealt with absences by a head coach but for different reasons. Flip Saunders, formerly the head coach of the Timberwolves, passed away shortly before the season began. Bucks head coach Jason Kidd has missed games due to health issues. Perhaps with those two coaches at the helm the teams would be better at this juncture. That’s not the case and hopefully the teams can fulfill their potential next season.

 

Will the Cleveland Cavaliers make it to the Finals?

 

There is no team in the Eastern conference that can stop the Cavaliers when fully healthy. By keeping their core intact and going to an up-tempo offense, the Cavs may make a deep run into the playoffs. The one concern is that the team is working with another rookie head coach in Tyronn Lue. Whereas injuries played a significant role in not getting a championship last time, this year the assertive Lue and LeBron must be on the same page. Former coach, David Blatt, was merely a minutes and timeout specialist. Will Lue have the respect of LeBron to make the important decisions to get the team its first NBA championship?

 

The Detroit Pistons…might actually…be good this year?

 

I’ve been in a constant back and forth with one of my best friends over the current state of the Pistons. I do not believe in the team nor do I believe in coach Stan Van Gundy. My friend however thinks that the Pistons have a legitimate shot to go to the playoffs. He likes that Van Gundy has started to build the team around Andre Drummond. I hate to admit it but my friend may be right. Van Gundy is making the team in the mold of his Orlando Magic tenure. Getting players that can space the floor and shoot is what will propel this team in the top 8 in the Eastern Conference. They’ll likely get swept by the Cavs or Toronto Raptors but they are an improved team.

Quick Predictions on NBA honors

 

Rookie of the Year: Karl Anthony-Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves

 

The kid is getting better as the season progresses. He is a double-double machine and he is getting more comfortable with his mid range shot. He is even taking 3s. I don’t know if we’ve prematurely crowned Anthony Davis of the New Orlean Pelicans as the next great big man. Anthony-Towns seems to be just as skilled and may have the more talented team in the long run. He’s definitely worth watching out for.

 

MVP: Stephen Curry

 

I don’t think I have to make much of a case for Curry. The sad part is he’s sat out roughly 15 4th quarters thus far this season. Even if games get more competitive for the rest of the season he’ll likely increase his already league leading scoring average. Sick! I will throw LeBron James and Chris Paul in the mix as potential MVP winners but it’s Curry’s trophy to lose at this point.

 

Defensive Player of The Year: Draymond Green of the Golden State Warriors

 

This is a tough one to call. I think the voters will lean toward either Green or San Antonio Spurs Kawhi Leonard. Leonard won last year despite Green receiving more first place votes. With both teams having not reached double digits in losses thus far, this award may be decided by team success. Whichever team has the better record may be able to catapult their DPOY candidate to the honor.

 

 


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