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Cavs 3-3, Best Play in 14 months
Posted By Bradley Ross On Jan 6 2012 @ 12:08 am In Cleveland Cavaliers | No Comments
The Cavs have opened up after the lockout with solid performances and a record of .500. At 3-3, they are showing some very legitimate promise early on in this young season. Granted, only one game was against a playoff team from 2011 and all of the teams were under .500 in 2010-2011. Still, we are talking about a .500 record posted by a team that was very competitive for the worst record in the NBA last year. Before their recent loss to the Raptors, the Cavs had posted a record above .500, for the first time in 14 months.
The Cavs right now are an exciting and athletic bunch with some interesting pieces. Their starting line-up features Kyrie Irving, Anthony Parker, Omri Casspi, Antwan Jamison, and Anderson Varejao. So far on the season, Varejao is back to his old self after the injury and Jamison has recovered from a poor 2010-2011 and is scoring quite well. Anthony Parker is shooting better than he did last year, but he is still mostly just a veteran leader on the floor who can play some D. The new starters are a story of good and bad. Casspi has been disappointing and isn’t shooting the ball enough or with enough efficiency, and he is getting into foul trouble. On the flipside, rookie Irving is having a great start to the season posting 14.2 pts, 3.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists. He is limiting turnovers while playing good D and making some highlight plays.
The Cavs are developing a really nice bench right now as guys like Alonzo Gee, Ramon Sessions and Tristan Thompson really come out with a lot of energy. Sessions has improved his D and is a steady PG to stabilize a bench rotation. Like Irving, he is limiting the turnovers, playing good D, and his shot is keeping the defense honest. On his wing, Gee has been a nice complementary scorer and looks improved since his stint last year in Cleveland, especially handling the ball. Thompson has been maybe the biggest spark off the bench, especially on D. He is leading the team in blocks with a great 1.7 a game. He still struggles with jump shots and from the free throw line, but his D has been great and he has been great at crashing the offensive glass.
The first 3 players off the bench are great, but the Cavs, like many teams out there, would severely struggle if they have to rely significantly on their 9th or 10th guys in the rotation. Samardo Samuels is the best of the bunch and is a great low post scorer, but he is extremely turnover prone (4.5 per 36 minutes) and foul prone (7.3 per 36). Ryan Hollins is just a big body, Harangody is a decent shooter who can play some D, and Eyenga is a good athlete, but none of these guys look that great.
Last year, the Cavs couldn’t shoot the ball, struggled to score, and couldn’t stop other teams from scoring at all. This year, they aren’t great but they are shooting better, scoring better, and playing better D.
Surprises So Far: Tristan Thompson’s energy. Jamison and Gee’s Offense, Irving’s D, Anthony Parker’s shooting, Sessions’ 3 pt shot, defense and shooting overall
Disappointment’s: Omri Casspi, Christian Eyenga, ball handling and rebounding overall
With Thompson and Irving, this team is really going to be exciting to watch in the future.
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