The DEFEND Cleveland Show

1 Day Till Tip Off – A DC Show Cavs Preview

 

With 4 hours left until the season opener tip, here’s your little more than half a day late, final day till tip off DC Show Cavs preview.

 

1 day till open…

1 – Byron Scott. I’m not going to hide this fact, I’ve been a Byron Scott fan my entire life. When he made the jump to coaching and eventually took over the duties for a John Calipari failed pro coaching stint which left a decimated New Jersey Nets in 2000, I couldn’t wait to see him be successful again. Didn’t have to wait long either as within his second year there Byron took a team that was a 26 game winner his first year, to back-to-back trips to the NBA Finals the next two winning 101 regular season games along the way. Somehow under still murky circumstances of did he get along with Jason Kidd or did he not get along with Jason Kidd, Scott was chased out mid-season the following year of back-to-back runs, and would seem no coincidence that Jersey hasn’t made it back to the Finals since.

Now before you start thinking the Cavs are title bound in this Scott’s second year here, let’s take a look at his second head coaching stint following the Nets first, because that is where a more realistic parallel comes into better focus. In 2004 Bryon took over the Hornets coaching duty in much the same situation he had in Jersey four years earlier, inheriting a team in the mode of total collapse. Their record his first year looks quite similar to what we witnessed last season in Cleveland, the Hornets won 18 games. In the draft that followed they landed the #4 overall pick selecting a 20 year old sophomore point guard sensation out of Wake Forest named Chris Paul. The Hornets immediately won 20 more games than they had in Scott’s first year because of this going from a 22% win ratio to 46%. This is about the ceiling of what you could be in store for with this year’s Cavs team, a team that doubles its winning percentages from a year ago.

There are legitimate reasons why this could happen but most of it can center on the similarity of Kyrie Irving (who was just named the starter for the opener, something that had been in question) to Chris Paul and how they both perfectly fit Coach Scott’s scheme. This quote from Scott said a few weeks ago at the opening of Cavs training camp sort of says it all:

To be honest with you, you know who the best mentor for Kyrie is? You’re looking at him. I had this same situation with Chris Paul. I don’t want to sound cocky, guys. I’m the best. You’re looking at him.

This declaration of Scott’s was in the context of the media’s notion that the now amnestied Baron Davis would play a big role in mentoring Kyrie. And it was only a couple days later after these comments, Baron was cut free.

Scott knows and backs what he speaks, and the players all believe in him. And they should. And so should you as fans because not only has he backed what he said throughout his career as both player and coach, he has done this exact thing before. Successfully. Not only was Byron a guard himself on one of the greatest franchises in NBA history, he has since coached two of the best point guards in the game over the last decade, Jason Kidd and Chris Paul. Scott’s style of ball that is point guard first and friendly, dependent on player movement away from the ball and making the extra pass, aka the Princeton offense, is without question a perfect fit for Kyrie. You should see, much like in Jersey and then when the Hornets, Kyrie Irving and this Cavaliers team now in its second year under Scott’s watch, will be dramatically improved.

2 – Predictions. Excited? Good. Now don’t go overboard. To expect this team to play with post season aspirations at this point is premature considering how far the Cavs have to go from being a 19 win team a year ago to even being respectable this season. However, your Cavs, if things click and are fast tracked it is fair even for a team so young, to be capable of competing at a .500 level. That is unlikely though, but so is the most readily predicted year for this team of only 19 or 20 wins that most pundits seem to be projecting. This team is certain to better than another 19 win year, even if it is in a strike shortened 66 game season. How much better? Realistically, not much. Inconsistent play and mistakes defines young play in this game, but they are better built that most are acknowledging and they will get better as the season progresses.

So, your DC Show prediction for your 2011-2012 Cleveland Cavaliers is…28 wins. Or, keeping in mind the shortened year, a 42% win ratio. Not quite double the win percentage of last year’s anemic 23%, but certainly enough to have you excited about Cavalier basketball this year for sure.

3 – I long for some day soon where I don’t have to do this, but here is your final talking point in previewing this year’s Cavs season. And it’s actually something you’ll be rooting for even when the Cavs season is likely already finished. What am I talking about? Why your 5 favorite teams NOT named the Cleveland Cavaliers this year. In other words, the 5 teams you can best root to have a chance at beating the three pals and a Pat Riley who play in a city built by cocaine trafficking, also known as the Miami Heat. Ugh, I can’t stand this team and its design is honestly what bothers me the most. Yes, they have with Wade and Lebron 2 of the best 5 players in the world, and arguably 2 of the best players to ever be paired together in the sport’s history. Sure Chris Bosh is vastly overrated to be considered in their conversation and mostly should not considered what makes this team so good, so we won’t even bother, but the real problem is what this team has to overcome in its flawed design. And let’s hope they’re tragic flaws at that.

A) No one has a post game. And don’t listen to Lebron, the day or two he spent hanging out with Hakeem was more seemingly just a part of a publicity tour than it was him actually developing a post up game. He’s starts showing it instead of just talking about it like he has for the last 3 years now, then I’ll start believing him.

B) There is no point guard on the team though rookie Norris Cole of Cleveland State could end up to be this guy, but how he finds valuable minutes on a team that has two guys who create best with the ball in their hands is yet to be seen.

C) Chris Bosh is not a power forward. He was a looter in a riot in Toronto and always looked more a small forward though his size dictates he’s a big. Here’s he’s just insufferable being grouped in with the caliber of play of Wade and Lebron when in all actuality he’s Ringo Starr without the British writ and wry charm. However his is like Ringo when you listen to Beatles records and find out Paul McCartney played most the drums. Meanwhile Miami has him at the sacrifice of what they really need, a real interior presence. I mean c’mon, 96 year Juwan Howard and an undersized Haslim are the only real factor the Heat have in the Paint. It’s not enough.

D) No compliment. They just don’t have it. They are better this year and the addition of Battier and a healthy Haslim will definitely indicate this, but they still either overwhelm you with strong defense and their unmatched talent between Lebron and Wade, or they get beat by a more rounded team with strong firepower, or simply, by a better “team”.

These flaws will be their demise yet again, and these 5 teams are the ones most likely to do it:

1 – The Knicks. I really dislike this team’s composition as is too. With a healthy Baron Davis they are better but even with the improved defense by adding Tyson Chandler, they still have no post presence either and Tyson is not a miracle worker defensively that this team seems it would need to be even considered decent. Basically, in many ways they’re as flawed as Miami. They are the kind of team that matches up well position by position with the Heat and like they did last year, the Heat brings out the very best in them. If Baron Davis arrives in time healthy enough to contribute, though the Knicks won’t have anywhere near the regular season the Heat are about to have, with a hot Carmelo they can beat South Beach and expose and win in a 7 game post season series.

2 – The Magic. Dwight Howard and Big Baby. I know, I know, will Howard even be there, will he ever be as good as he should be, and, will a Van Gundy ever be anything more than a blow hard. Who knows, but the one thing that’s for certain, Miami has absolutely no answer for the interior of the Magic (which to be fair, no one really does) and if they can’t win alone with perimeter shooting, i.e., if Wade and Lebron hit big shots, the Magic are still very capable of beating the Heat.

3 – The Celtics. Let’s face it, the Celtics have one more year in those legs whether we want to admit it or not, and they have 3 things the Heat do not, killer instincts, Kevin Garnett, and Rondo. Do not sell this Celtic team short, Paul Pierce can still give Lebron headaches and Ray Allen can still knock down shots. Add in that Doc Rivers is a better proven coach over Spoelstra who beyond that has guys who seemingly can’t be coached anyway, and you have what would still be seen as an upset in the making. But would it really be? I say no. Again, a good “team” beats the Heat.

4 – The Thunder. The only team in the West I feel are capable this year of doing the deal if were to come to a Finals match up needed to knock off Miami. Lakers have lost too much and gained only a Mike Brown and better jersey sales with the name change of “World Peace“. Dallas felt like a one and done title winner even as they paraded around last year and we all celebrated with them (sorry Shawn Marion, no disrespect). The Clippers look great on paper and will fill highlight reels, but they are still owned by Donald Sterling. Something will go wrong. History never fails here. That leaves the Thunder, a team who has it quite a roster, and match up nearly toe to toe with the Heat but appear to have more complimentary pieces than Miami in doing so. This could be Oklahoma’s year. Which sounds weird and looks weird typed out just now, but believe it. They are very much playing for a ring this year.

5 – And finally the team with the best chance to beat Miami, and the team I feel is the best team in the league this year, the Chicago Bulls. Derrick Rose. Is he the best player in the game? Could be, actually. Especially if his perimeter and mid range shots continue to improve again over last year’s already dramatic improvement. Consider this, he went from shooting 72 three’s his first year and 62 the next, to taking nearly 3 times the total of his first two seasons last year alone. And his average increased from 24% to a respectable 33%. This means he should improve further this year at it (in the season opener, one in which he won on a last minute shot to be the Lakers bringing his team back down late in the game, he shot 4 of 6), it also means that with the way he slays people off the dribble, if they have to respect this shot of his even more, no one stands a chance against him. The Heat have no answer for him (no one does). A healthy Boozer and Noah. The Heat have no answer there either. Throw in an improved Brewer, Rip Hamilton (a HUGE upgrade over a Keith Bogans) and all around improved play defensively behind 2nd year defensive guru, head coach Tom Thibodeau (who won the NBA Coach of the Year honors in his rookie year last year guiding the Bulls to 62 wins), and you are talking about the best team in the NBA. Crown them. They not only beat the Heat, they might be unbeatable, period.

 

There you have it, folks, your 2011-2012 NBA year and the DC Show’s Cleveland Cavaliers guide to it. Go any team who beats Miami, go there even being basketball played this season, and most of all, GO CAVS!

 

-Mike James

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Posted by on Dec 26 2011. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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