Bust A Move!

In the 2017 NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers were dethroned as “defending champs” after the Golden State Warriors almost effortlessly defeated them in 5 games. The Cavs team payroll is at a whopping $128,492,467 (Hoops Hype). Awarding the Cavs as the NBA team with the highest team payroll in the NBA. So, from a logical standpoint, the Cavs should have never been severely outplayed in these Finals if they paid the most money in order to attain “best team to contend with these juggernaut Warriors,” right? Wrong! In all and utter honesty, the Cavs have simply overpaid some of these rotation players that look appealing on paper but cannot get the job done when an NBA title is on the line. As a result, in the offseason, don’t be surprised if the Cavs make some jaw-dropping transactions in order to make a more legitimate title contention and pose a real threat to the new-found dynasty we identify as the Warriors.

  • Iman Shumpert

Iman Shumpert is currently under a contract where the Cavs will have to pay him around $10.33M this upcoming season. Now, on a good note, Iman Shumpert is a good defender and is a gifted athlete with phenomenal leaping ability, however, Shumpert is an unreliable shooter. In the 66 minutes he played in the Finals, his true shooting percentage was just 42.1%. He only connected on 4 field goals (2 of them being 3 pointers) (Basketball-Reference). So, just having Shumpert out on the floor did more harm than good because his shooting inconsistencies caused the floor to shrink significantly making the Cavs offense even more painful to watch.

  • Channing Frye

The 2017-18 season will be the finale of Channing Frye’s current contract where the Cavs have to pay him $7.42M (Hoops Hype). Over-paid? Without question, Frye is over-paid! Arguably, Frye was at his best and putting up career-best numbers when he was with the Phoenix Suns (2009-2014); they only paid him, at most, $6.4M (Spotrac). For Cleveland, Frye is merely a reserve getting paid to sit the bench. In these Finals, Frye only played a grand total of 11 minutes (Basketball-Reference). Sure he’s a 7-footer who can efficiently shoot three’s, but he is a great defensive liability further proving that he is severely over-paid.

  • Kyle Korver

Cavs had only signed Kyle Korver for this season only paying him $5.23M (Hoops Hype). In his career, Korver is #7 all-time in 3-point field goal percentage (43.1%) in the regular season. However, he is #72 all-time in 3-point field goal percentage (38.6%) in the post-season (Basketball-Reference). Not the most reliable shooter when it counts most. Korver played about 19 minutes per game (97 minutes total) in the Finals. In the time he played he shot 16 three’s connecting only on 5 of them resulting in him shooting just 31% from beyond the arc (Basketball-Reference). Korver is 36 years-old unclutch shooter and I will be very surprised if the Cavs sign him to an extension.

  • Richard Jefferson

Cavs gave 36-year old Richard Jefferson a multi-year $2.5M contract which expires in 2019 (Hoops Hype). MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR DEAL FOR 2 MORE YEARS?! RICHARD JEFFERSON?! Mind you this is the guy who contemplated retirement last year. I don’t know what Cleveland was thinking with this one. Why sign a 36-year old who is a shell of himself? They would’ve been better off signing a guy from the D-League! But on a serious note, Jefferson does bring veteran leadership and tried to somewhat contain Finals MVP Kevin Durant who averaged 35 PPG, shooting 55% from the field, 47% from 3, and 93% from the free throw line. And, in the 83 minutes he played, he only made 1 3-pointer shooting just 11% from beyond in the entirety of the series (Basketball-Reference). Father Time is undefeated and Richard Jefferson is not getting any younger or more dynamic as a ball player, so once again: WHY SIGN THIS MAN TO A MULTI-YEAR CONTRACT DEAL?

  • Deron Williams

Deron Williams signed the veteran minimum which is worth $400K for this year only (Hoops Hype). Supposedly, Williams was deemed to be the playmaker LeBron and the Cavs were desiring in order to put them in the best position for a repeat. But the exact opposite happened. Williams, who is 32-years old going on 40, looked completely outmatched the entire Finals. In the 61 minutes he played, Williams only made 2 field goals, dished out only 6 assists, and turned the ball over 5 times (Basketball-Reference). There’s no assessment needed after seeing the terrible stats Williams posted in these Finals. If Williams wants to save face and not slip a disc while trying to walk the ball up the floor, I suggest he do one thing, and one thing only: RETIRE ASAP!

  • Kevin Love

Kevin Love is currently under a multi-year contract with a player option in 2020 worth about $25.5M (Hoops Hype). The reason why Kevin Love is on this “doomed” list of players likely to be moved in the offseason is because he has consistently come up small in moments when the Cavs need him the most. In a must-win Game 3, Love only recorded 9 points. Cavs loss 118-113. In Game 5, Love had the same amount of points as Warriors rookie reserve, Patrick McCaw, which was 6 points. Cavs loss the game 120-129! Imagine if Love doesn’t underachieve and actually makes an impact in those key moments in these Finals… But those hypotheticals aren’t important as of now. Now, the real hypothetical is: where will the Cavs trade Love this offseason? In a perfect world, Love will get traded to the Indiana Pacers for Paul George who won’t mind taking a pretty big pay-cut and shapeshift his role in order to play best with James and Irving.

All in all, the window to win championships is closing steadily and LeBron’s 3-4 years of dominance is gradually declining in a similar fashion. Cavs have put themselves in a bad spot by overpaying mediocre players and has-beens, but with a little luck and execution, the Cavs can still be a legit contender against the Warriors for several more years.

 

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3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Count the Cavs Out After Game 1

  • Game 1: “The game players get their feet wet”

Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, and the rest of the supporting cast (excluding the starters) were getting a taste of what was and will be the enormous task at hand in these NBA Finals against, arguably, the greatest team ever assembled. No one really seemed comfortable and as a unit, Cleveland looked unfocused. As the players have been preaching in postgame interviews, it’s impossible to simulate opponents as well as the gametime atmosphere in practice; so Game 1 puts everything into perspective. Game 1’s tale was a combination of Cleveland being a bit awe/star struck and the Warriors unleashing their anguish on the bitter events that took place in last year’s NBA Finals. LeBron and his Cavs are now 0-3 versus the Warriors in Game 1’s, but I doubt that discourages Cleveland. I expect LeBron and Kyrie to gather their troops and recalibrate their focus so they can execute a lot better in Game 2.

  • Cavs Dominated the Boards

The Warriors did gain a lot of its initial momentum and took advantage of Cleveland lethargic behavior through second chance points. Warriors ended with 18 second chance points while Cavs had 13. With that being said, Cleveland still won the rebounding battle in totality, 67-60. Kevin Love led the pack with 21 rebounds. LeBron James added 15 rebounds. But Tristan Thompson, one of the league’s premier rebounders, only had 4 rebounds. I don’t expect Thompson to have another lackluster performance, on the glass, for the remainder of the series. And, I expect Cleveland to continue dominating the glass as well as converting more efficiently on the additional scoring opportunities they receive from their rebounding efforts for the rest of the NBA Finals.

  • LeBron James

He was the only player, outside of Kyrie Irving, who was actually challenging the Warriors. James posted 28 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists, and 2 blocks. But what about the 8 turnovers? Yes, he did commit 8 turnovers (Cavs committed a grand total of 20 turnovers which GSW converted into 21 points) but most of his turnovers were unforced errors and can easily be avoided with James’ unique ability to analyze and break down film and gameplans. Additionally, with no one on the Cavs shooting the ball well (team shot only 35% from the field) the Warriors could apply even more pressure on James making life even more difficult. Also, with the terrible shooting performance the Cavs’ supporting cast displayed, excluding Irving, the Cavs offense was conducted through LeBron-James-isolation situations where James had to create offense all by his lonesome throughout the entirety of the game (Cavs only had 15 assists as a team versus GSW who had 31 assists as a team). With this being the only offense the Cavs could conduct, the Warriors’ defense barely rotated, only had to pay close attention to James, and treated everyone else as a nonscoring threat.

At the end of the day, James has been to 8 NBA Finals (7 NBA Finals in a row), so this isn’t his first rodeo. I expect him as well as his supporting cast to adjust exponentially. As a competitor, when you get beat that bad, the only solution is to prepare the mind and body 110% harder to avoid that feeling of defeat yet again. Game 2 is a pivotal game for Cleveland, so don’t be surprised if James puts on a historic performance.

3 Time’s a Charm

The time has come. On June 1st at 9 PM, the Cleveland Cavaliers will travel west to face off against the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors are heavily favored to win the title but the Cavs could be the opponent to spoil their anticipated champagne showers. Why do the Cavs have the best chance to defeat the most talented team ever assembled? Here are the reasons:

  • New Acquisitions

Over the course of the season, the Cavs acquired Derrick Williams, Deron Williams, and Kyle Korver (Andrew Bogut was also a major addition but his season was ended in literally 2 minutes so I guess it wasn’t meant to be). I doubt that Derrick Williams will play major minutes in the Finals, but if the Cavs should play him, he is a versatile, athletic forward who has the ability to shoot the ball and spread the floor. Now, Kyle Korver will be a major component for the Cavs. Since he will most likely be a liability to Cleveland on defense, Korver will have to sink just about every single three-point shot he attempts. If Korver is able to consistently be a threat from the perimeter, he will force the Warrior’s defense to stay at home which will help Kyrie and LeBron do what they do best. Deron Williams is obviously the other primary ballhandler which will help take pressure off Kyrie and LeBron. With Deron, he will need to be aggressive when the opportunity presents itself (like he was vs. BOS in Game 5) and not defer immediately to LeBron or Kyrie; it will make the Cavs’ offensive attack not solely based on isolation play which can become oversaturated and predictable.

  • Cleveland vs. The World

The core of this 73-win Warriors team still remains intact with the addition of the league’s second-best player, Kevin Durant. Logically, if the Warriors team, prior to KD, was up 3-1 in a series they eventually lost, then surely this year’s Warriors superteam will be destined to win now with KD coming to save the day. However, the beautiful thing about sports is the unpredictability and drastic shift of momentum from game-to-game. Right now, everyone is counting the Cavs out and giving them no chance. Surely, the players are aware of this and will be intrigued to silence all the doubters. During interviews with the media, LeBron and the Cavs are innately-trained to be humble, acknowledge and praise the extraordinary talents of the Warriors. But, from a competitor’s standpoint behind closed doors, the Cavs don’t find the Warriors intimidating at all. At the end of the day, the Warriors have home-court advantage but the Cavs are the defending champs.

  • Kyrie “Uncle Drew” Irving

He’s already deemed the best ballhandler to ever play this game. And, without question, he has proven that he is the go-to guy during critical moments in the game (“The Shot” in game 7 vs. Warriors during 2016 Finals, the 42-point performance in game 4 vs. Celtics during 2017 ECF). Since game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals and the entirety of last year’s NBA Finals, Kyrie has proven to be a far better asset and leader to his team than Steph Curry. In last year’s finals, Kyrie averaged 28 points per game while shooting 48 percent from the field. On the other hand, Curry averaged only 22 points per game while shooting only 42 percent from the field. With Kyrie on the floor, the Warriors have to worry about an explosive-scoring guard who is very capable of taking and making any shot, anywhere, at any time. LeBron put it best when he stated: “He [Kyrie] was born to perform and make big plays during key moments in the game.”

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  • LeBron “The King” James

LeBron is the best player in the game. He just passed The G.O.A.T, Michael Jordan, to become the leading scorer in NBA playoff history. Just to add, LeBron needs to make only 2 three’s to pass Reggie Miller and become the second-leading three-point scorer in NBA playoff history. And, I almost forgot! This finals appearance in 2017 will be LeBron’s 7th in a row! So, LeBron is used to this stage. However, this will be LeBron’s biggest challenge thus far in his career. KD is licking his chops, in the west, waiting to carry out his revenge after getting swept by LeBron in the 2012 NBA Finals. KD is obviously one of the best/unique scorers this league has ever seen. LeBron and the Cavs will have to try and contain KD and the Warriors’ high-octane offense to the best of their ability. If everyone plays their role and remains fundamentally-sound defensively to create more offensive possessions, then there’s no doubt that LeBron can and will find gaps in the defense in order to exploit the Warriors from the inside-out.

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Without a doubt, this will be one of the most anticipated matchups in the history of sports. The series between these two juggernauts is tied 1-1 and this third meeting at the grand stage could potentially be the conclusion to an amazing rivalry. Players on both sides are healthy so the matchups are very promising ensuring an ultra-competitive series. Like ESPN analyst, Stephen A. Smith, declared: “THERE ARE NO EXCUSES!” Players’ legacies will be on the line. Who will rise to the top and be the cream of the crop?

A Night to Remember

In the golden days of 1964, the last Cleveland team was crowned champion. The years after that marked “the drought” that would plague many Cleveland sports fans and teams for years to come which felt like an eternity. During this drought, people thought the city of Cleveland was worthless and the future seemed dark and gloomy. The Browns were (and still are) a complete disgrace; the lackadaisical football team has yet to win a football game this season. The Indians had not been able to reach the peak set by the 1999 Indians team however this year is different; although the ’99 baseball franchise had not been able to bring the ‘ship back to the land, it had one of the best lineups to ever be assembled which brought back some buzz that left Cleveland fans hopeful. As for the Cavaliers, it seemed that all the pieces to the puzzle would be arranged perfectly when the Cavs got LeBron James. But then he left. This catastrophic event was pretty common for the city of Cleveland. However, the Cavs then received Kyrie Irving through the lottery and then, eventually, James found his way back home with the intentions of bringing his city the ultimate reward that it had been longing for for damn near half a century.

Going back to Sunday, June 19, 2016, I have never seen nor been in such an intense and anxious environment. It was one minute and nine seconds left on the clock and the Cavs had the ball. I remember glancing over at my dad and he looked so intense, his bald head glistening from the sweat that seemed to be everlasting, and his eyes zeroed in at the TV screen. I was clutching my little sister tight praying to God that the Cavs had something up their sleeve; to be honest, it felt like this game would go into overtime the way both teams were struggling to shoot efficiently. Irving got the ball then ran a pick-n-roll with JR Smith to get Stephen Curry to guard him and then “the shot heard around the world” took place when Kyrie hit a step-back three-pointer in the face of Curry to put the Cavs up three. When that shot fell and James hit the free throw to put the Cavs up for good, the emotions flooded the whole room and the state of Ohio. I remember my dad and his cousin shedding tears of joy. I was ecstatic and started jumping up and down with my sister secure in my arms. The 52-year drought had been over! Years of anguish and frustration had been released.

Fast forward to Tuesday, October 25, 2016, the Cavs begin their season against the Knicks and they are celebrating their championship win over the Warriors through the ring ceremony. And not only are the Cavs getting their championship rings, but on the same night, the Indians are competing against the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. If anyone told me or any Cleveland fan that the Indians would be playing in the World Series at the same time the Cavs were receiving their championship rings, I would tell that person that they were addicted to an hallucinogen and that day would most likely never come. But here it is. I am glad to be alive to witness this historic night. And, one thing sweeter than one Cleveland team being crowned champions of the world is two! Let’s go Tribe, bring another one to the Land!