Friday, February 15, 2013

NBA All Star Break

Valentine's Day has passed and as we head into the All Star Weekend in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers sit at 16-37 which is last in the Central Division and 12th overall in the Eastern Conference.  The Cavs have gone 3-4 since the last time I checked in.  It was an interesting seven game stretch which featured a three game winning streak.  After the Golden State loss, the team headed to Detroit and was handed arguably it's worst loss of the season at 117-99.  However, whatever they learned from that game carried over to the next three contests.  The next night back in the Q, the Cavs won their most impressive game of the year defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-110.  Kyrie Irving led all scorers with 35 points and played perhaps his best game as a Cav especially in the fourth quarter.

However, more importantly, the Cavs needed to show they could beat the bad teams after they beat the good/elite teams.  They followed up the OKC win with an absolute blow out of the Bobcats 122-95 in which everyone on the roster contributed something.  With a win over the Magic a couple days later, the Cavs were looking good!  Unfortunately Denver came to town and they are a match up nightmare.  The Cavs battled valiantly but came up short.  They lost a tough one this past Monday to a depleted Minnesota squad as well.  Valentine's Day Eve the Cavs again played one of their better games of the season but lost on a buzzer beater to the San Antonio Spurs.  Bad news? Irving scored only six points.  Good news?  They only lost by one point!  Dion Waiters had a good game with 20 points but had a defensive lapse that cost us the game.

So with a week off and no games until Wednesday, February 20th, the Cavs get a much needed rest.  Unless you're Kyrie Irving who has already stated he's getting tired.  Irving is competing in all three days of All-Star Weekend.  Here's what you can look for:

Friday, Feb. 15th

  • Celebrity All-Star Game on ESPN @ 7 pm (who cares right?)
  • Rising Stars Challenge on TNT @ 9 pm - Check out FOUR Cavs in the contest tonight.  Charles Barkley and Shaq are team captains and picked these rosters featuring the best rookies and sophomores in the NBA today.
Team Shaq:
Damian Lillard (Portland)
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland)
Andrew Nicholson (Orlando)
Klay Thompson (Golden State)
Harrison Barnes (Golden State)
Chandler Parsons (Houston)
Dion Waiters (Cleveland)
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (Charlotte)
Tyler Zeller (Cleveland)
Kemba Walker (Charlotte)
Andre Drummond (Detroit)

Team Chuck:
Anthony Davis (New Orleans)
Kenneth Faried (Denver)
Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio)
Bradley Beal (Washington)
Ricky Rubio (Minnesota)
Tristan Thompson (Cleveland)
Nikola Vucevic (Orlando)
Brandon Knight (Detroit)
Isaiah Thomas (Sacramento)
Alexey Shved (Minnesota)

I obviously really like Team Shaq's squad.  Just having Lillard and Irving is good enough for the win.  However Drummond recently got hurt and won't play so I don't love their inside game.  Shaq's team has the way better shooters but Chuck's got some high quality post players.  Earlier in the week, I would have easily picked Team Shaq but I'm changing my prediction to Team Chuck.  With Davis and our own TT down low along with Faried, this team will out rebound Shaq.  With Rubio and Knight dishing, I think they shoot well enough to win.  Also, I doubt Irving plays that much with being an ACTUAL All-Star.  The fact he is even playing is absurd.

Saturday, Feb. 16th

  • Shooting Stars, Skills Challenge, 3-Point Shootout, Slam Dunk Contest on TNT @ 8:30pm
Ok, first things first, the Shooting Stars and Skills Challenge are silly.  Just get me to the 3 point contest and the dunkers.  Also Mr. Irving will be in the 3 point contest so holla balla...

Paul George (Indiana)
Kyrie Irving (Cleveland) 
Steve Novak (New York)
Ryan Anderson (New Orleans)
Matt Bonner (San Antonio)
Stephen Curry (Golden State)

Okay no joke, if Steph Curry doesn't win this, he should be ashamed.  He's one of the best shooters I've seen since back in his Davidson days.  Irving currently is the 2nd favorite tied with Steve Novak.  Novak is my sneaky pick cause the dude can drill the corner threes.  Don't be surprised if Anderson does really well too.  I love white guys.  If Paul George wins, it's because everyone else shot opposite handed or backwards.

Sunday, Feb. 17th

  • 2013 All-Star Game on TNT @ 8 ET
Lebron, D-Wade, Bosh, Garnett, and Carmelo (may miss game as well) will most likely be your starting five since Heat coach Spoelstra is the man behind the bench.  He'll screw Irving from getting to start since Rondo is injured and won't play in the game.  The conspiracy theory is Irving won't ever play with Lebron so people can't speculate that James will be heading back to Cleveland next summer (2014).  Then you have Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez, Luol Deng, Paul George, Jrue Holliday, and Joakim Noah filling out your roster.

Kobe, Chris Paul, Durant, Dwight Howard and Blake Griffin are your starters.  Who knows if Howard will play since he changes his mind hourly about his general self awareness.  LaMarcus Aldridge, Tim Duncan, James Harden, David Lee, Tony Parker, Zach Randolph and Russell Westbrook are the reserves.  

Let's not kid ourselves here, the West is deeper and with Durant, Westbrook and Harden re-united, KG always says ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.  However, the East has Lebron and that counts for something.  Nevertheless, the West wins but I do not care at all.  I hope Irving (who won the Rising Stars MVP last year) wins the MVP because that would be hilarious and awesome.

Back to Cavalier Country  

When the Cavs come back next Wednesday, they'll get their one and only nationally televised game against the New Orleans Hornets, soon-to-be Pelicans on ESPN.  Hopefully Irving is well rested and they go ham on Anthony Davis and Co.  They then take their final long road trip to South Beach with a three game stint in Orlando and Miami before stopping in Chicago and heading home versus Toronto on the 27th.  The Raptors game kicks off a five game homestand.  The season then goes back and forth with no more than back to back games at home or on the road until the end.  

With only 29 games remaining, the Cavs need to win 14 to get to 30.  It's a bit of a stretch and with the trade deadline upcoming, who knows what the roster will look like.  At best I think they win 12 games but more likely around 10.  If they get to 25-27 wins, I'll take it because it will be the same record as last year (over a projected 82 game season).  And with the injuries they suffered (and still suffer with no Varejao) as well as the amount of minutes the young guys are playing, I'd call the season a success!