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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Archive for the category “Cleveland Cavaliers”

Are we in the golden age of Cleveland coaching?

david blatt cavs

David Blatt seems to think so.

While Cleveland has gone a collective 145 years and counting without a championship from any of its three professional sports teams,* that doesn’t mean we haven’t see our share of quality men calling the shots in the dugout or on the sidelines.

And we might currently be in the golden age of Cleveland managers and coaches.

The argument for the greatest NFL head coach of all-time begins and ends, of course, with Paul Brown. If you went solely by his time in Cleveland, Brown’s .750 lifetime winning percentage would be third best in NFL history, behind only Guy Chamberlin and John Madden. (And ahead of a guy named Vince Lombardi; maybe you’ve heard of him.) But even adding in his time with Cincinnati, Brown still checks in at No. 11 on the all-time list.

New England’s Bill Belichick is rightfully considered the best coach currently in the NFL, but even Belichick has not taken the Patriots to 10 consecutive league title games, let alone win seven of them. As good as Belichick and Tom Brady are, they are not now, and never will be, Paul Brown and Otto Graham.

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The unexpected playoff team: Remembering the 84-85 Cavs

CLE_Free_World_BIn just a little more than two months the Cleveland Cavaliers will open a first-round playoff series as the team tries to win the first NBA title in franchise history.

It’s been a forgone conclusion that the Cavs will make the playoffs this season ever since signing LeBron James in free agency and trading for Kevin Love. But even though everyone has expected the Cavs to be in the playoffs, it will still be nice to see the club return to the post-season after a four-year absence.

This spring will also mark the anniversary of another Cavs playoff team, one that to this day remains the most unexpected playoff team that Cavs fans have ever seen.

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From the editor’s notebook …

kyrie irving 55It was Kyrie Irving’s world on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena, and we were all just witnesses.

Irving set an arena record by scoring 55 points in the Cavs win against Portland. In addition, Irving now holds the franchise record for 3-pointers made (11) and attempted (19). He joins LeBron James and (bonus points if you remember) Walt Wesley as the only Cavs players to break the 50-point mark in franchise history.

Irving’s 55 points are the fourth-most by a player whose team did not score 100 points in a game in NBA history. He joins George Mikan, Michael Jordan and James on that list. He becomes the first former Duke player to break the 50-point barrier in an NBA, and joins Wesley as the only other Cavs player with a  50-point game at home. Wesley’s 50-point game came against Cincinnati on Feb. 19, 1971, while James’ eight 50-point games as a Cav have all come on the road. (All according to ESPN Stats & Information.)

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Cavs bring back the popular mid-season roster makeover

cavs making tradesAfter a four-year hiatus while LeBron James was off in Miami, the Cleveland Cavaliers welcomed a fan favorite back to the franchise this week.

We’re talking, of course, about the mid-season roster makeover.

Recalling the days of Flip Wilson, Ben Wallace and Wally Sczerbiak, general manager David Griffin spent a busy couple of days turning Dion Waiters, a couple of spare parts and a couple of first-round draft picks into Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith.

“What I’m most proud of, and our front office staff is most excited about, is that we’ve put together a team that we believe can compete at the highest level,” Griffin said in reflecting on the moves. “And we feel like we’ve done it without completely mortgaging the future. People look at the number of picks we’ve given away and everybody thinks, ‘Oh, my goodness, they’ve given away the farm!’ Well, we had an unbelievable farm, so we were putting it to work and we’re really pleased with where we are now. We’re going to make a first-round pick this year and we feel good about the situation we’re in.”

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Return from Achilles injury far from certain for Varejao

varejao injuryThe good news is that Friday’s surgery on Anderson Varejao’s torn Achilles tendon was reportedly a success.

The bad news is that there is a very real chance that we have seen the last of Varejao in a Cleveland Cavaliers uniform (or any NBA uniform for that matter).

Varejao, who was averaging 9.8 points and 6.5 rebounds, will miss the remainder of this season and based on the history of NBA players returning from Achilles injuries, if he does come back he may not be the same player.

According to a study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine by doctors at Drexel University’s College of Medicine, almost 40 percent of NBA players who suffer an Achilles injury never play again, and those that do make it back tend to see a “significant decrease in playing time and performance.”

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5 Questions – Cavs season-opening edition

After a four-year hiatus, the NBA spotlight makes its return to Cleveland on tonight as the Cleveland Cavaliers open up the 2014-15 season against the New York Knicks.

The Cavs are emerging from NBA purgatory after losing 215 games over the past four seasons and are set to embark on what should prove to be one of the most exciting seasons in franchise history thanks to the return of LeBron James, the addition of Kevin Love, and the continued maturation of Kyrie Irving.

Because the Cavs pulled off one of the most amazing (and unpredictable) off-seasons in league history they are considered by many as favorites to not only return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007, but also bring home the franchise’s first NBA title – whether they are ready to or not.

“Anybody talking about us winning it all, I think they’re being unfair to those great NBA teams that are out there that have either won it or have been there to win it, and also to us as a team that’s talented but new,” head coach David Blatt said earlier this week. “We have a lot of work to do before we can start claiming anything before it’s time.”

Fair or not, the expectations are there for the Cavs and they will have to deal with them on a nightly basis. In addition, they will have to cope with heightened scrutiny from the media, take their opponents’ best shot night after night, and carry the burden of being the closest team to ending the city’s 50-year championship drought.

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Johnny Manziel right where he needs to be – on the sidelines

johnny manziel frustrationCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine caused a bit of a kerfuffle during his press conference today by mentioning that he senses that rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel if “frustrated.”

“Well, I just think that he’s quiet. I just think you feel it,” Pettine said. “I’d be shocked – maybe I’m imposing it on him – but you feel it because you know what kind of competitor he is. Here’s a guy that’s gone from the past how many falls being out there making plays to standing there and having to watch. The competitor that he is is one of the biggest reasons we brought him here. So if he didn’t feel that way, I’d be shocked.”

On a basic level it’s probably good that Manziel is frustrated – that shows he’s not willing to just hold a clipboard and collect a paycheck. But on a bigger level we’re not sure why this is still a topic of discussion among the media and certain segments of the fan base.

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About those alternate uniforms for the Cavs

cavs navy uniformThe Cleveland Cavaliers announced today that they will be wearing a navy blue alternate uniform this year that features wine and gold letters, numbers and trim.

According to the team’s website, the uniforms will be worn for the team’s season-opening game on Oct. 30 against New York and will rotate with what the team refers to as its gold uniform (c’mon, it’s really yellow) as the official alternates for the 2014-15 season.

“With so much excitement and positive momentum going into this season, this special time called for a brand new uniform to match the energy and mojo of the 2014-15 team,” Tracy Marek, Cavaliers CMO, said on the team’s website.

The jersey is OK for what it is, we’ve always liked navy blue as a complimentary color to burgundy, but it’s not as good as it could have been.

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From the editor’s notebook …

cavs crazyWe’re only one week into training camp for the Cleveland Cavaliers and things are already getting crazy.

From a standing-room-only crowd at media day, to more than 16,000 fans attending a team scrimmage on Wednesday night, to a planned protest by a political group during Sunday’s preseason game against Maccabi Tel Aviv, it is anything but business as usual for the wine and gold.

Things are so hot that other teams are starting to take notice, most notably Washington’s Bradley Beal, who has engaged Cleveland guard Dion Waiters in an ongoing war of words over who has the best back court in the NBA. After Waiters challenged Beal’s claim that Beal and John Wall are the league’s best, Beal decided to fire back.

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From the editor’s notebook …

jordan cameron contractWith the majority of the focus on the quarterback position during training camp, it is easy to forget that there are other stories and issues that the Cleveland Browns are working their way through.

One of those is a potential contract extension for fourth-year tight end Jordan Cameron, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract. Cameron had a breakout year last season, catching 80 passes and seven touchdowns, after totaling just 26 receptions and a lone touchdown in his first two seasons with the team.

With the availability of wide receiver Josh Gordon – the team’s top offensive threat – still in doubt for the season, Cameron should become the focus of the passing game and based on his production from last season should be in line for a big year. While he would most likely not command a contract in the neighborhood of what Jimmy Graham received from New Orleans (four years with $20 million in guaranteed money), if Cameron can up his stats from last year, his price tag would go up as compared to what it is now. So it makes sense for the Browns to start talking extension now.

Or does it?

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