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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

Archive for the category “Cleveland Cavaliers”

5 Questions: Cleveland Cavaliers season-ending edition

cavs lose lakersThe Cleveland Cavaliers came into the 2013-14 NBA season with high hopes.

The team had spent the previous three years building a young roster of high draft picks that included Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson. To that group they added veterans Jarrett Jack and Anthony Bynum, along with Anthony Bennett – the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

After three seasons, and 166 losses, the Cavs were ready to replace the draft lottery with a return to the NBA playoffs.

Unfortunately, those dreams went unrealized, as the Cavs finished the year with a record of 33-49, five games out of the final playoff spot in the weak Eastern Conference.

While the 33 wins was the most for a non-LeBron James team since the 1997-98 season, and a nine-win improvement over last season, the year was still a disappointing one. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t an interesting one.

From ugly losses to unexpected wins, to accusations of “buddy ball” and rumors of locker room punches, to Irving being named MVP of the All-Star Game and the firing of general manager Chris Grant, this Cavs season is one fans will talk about for quite some time (even if it may not be for the reasons we like).

To help sort through what we all just witnessed over the past 82 games, and figure out some of the important issues facing the team this off-season, we’ve brought together an august panel of some of the best Cavs basketball minds on the Internet for an installment of 5 Questions in 5 Minutes.

Today’s participants are:

Ben Cox, a writer for Waiting for Next Year, Fear the Sword and CavsZine, and possibly the only librarian who can pull off muttonchops. He can be found on Twitter @WFNYBen.

Brendan Bowers, the founding editor of Stepien Rules and a contributing writer for SLAMonline. He is on Twitter @BowersCLE.

Demetri Inembolidis, a former contributing writer for The Cleveland Fan and I Go Hard Now. He is currently a contributor to Goodspeed & Poe and can be found on Twitter @demeatloaf.

Michael Mayer, the founder and editor of Rebuilding Since 1964 and a contributing writer for Real Cavs Fans. Follow him on Twitter @RS64mikemayer.

Wade Foley covers the Cavs for More Than a Fan: Cleveland and scouts and writes for NetScouts Basketball. He can be found on Twitter @FoleyLoaded_NBA.

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Four the hard way

anniversary 4Today marks the four-year anniversary of the launch of our site.

As a lifelong Cleveland fan, we knew what we were getting into when we decided to get the voices out of our head and put them down on (virtual) paper. But even by the standards of Cleveland sports, it’s been an interesting four years.

Consider that since we made our maiden post:

  • The Browns have gone 18-46 (a .281 winning percentage), are on their fourth head coach and fourth front office combination, and have had seven different starting quarterbacks.
  • The Cavs are 90-210 and counting (a .300 winning percentage), have had three coaches (counting Mike Brown twice) and just as many general managers, had an NBA record 26-game losing streak, and have yet to post a winning record despite drafting four players in the top four of the NBA Draft – two of which were the No. 1 overall pick.
  • The Indians have gone 309-339 while employing two different managers. The Tribe is the only team of the three to have a winning season and a playoff appearance – which they promptly lost.

More than just wins and losses, though, is the fact that writing has made us enjoy sports even more. Having an outlet to vent after the never-ending losses and personnel moves has helped us learn to not carry around another dismal performance by the local sports teams. We’ve also tried to develop a different perspective on what – and most importantly why – the Browns, Indians and Cavs are doing what they are doing.

A big part of how we have been able to do that is through the people we have met – either in person or in the online world – since we started the site (if the analytics are to be believed, we’ve had visitors from 154 different countries). We’ve been fortunate enough to meet some cool people (you know who you are) and our interactions with everyone has opened up our thinking and helped redefine, in a good way, how we look at sports.

And for that we say “thanks!”

So what’s next?

The Indians open up the season next week and will try and build on last season’s 92-win team that finished the season strong and made the playoffs. The Cavs are heading into the “most important off-season” since, well, the last one. And the Browns have (yet another) new coach and (yet another) new front office and the annual hope of the NFL Draft.

In other words, just another year in the life of a Cleveland sports fan.

(Photo by Getty Images)

From the editor’s notebook …

Man U Liverpool LiveAfter five years of frustration, Liverpool walked out of Old Trafford on Sunday with their first road win against Manchester United since 2009.

The 3-0 beating pushes Liverpool 14 points clear of United in the Premier League table and, more importantly, leaves the Reds just four points back of league-leaders Chelsea (and holding a game in hand). With a spot in next year’s Champions League almost locked up with nine games to go in the season, the question now becomes: can Liverpool claim its first Premier League title in 24 years?

Captain Steven Gerrard thinks so.

“We’ve showed today that we are genuine contenders and we are going to fight to the end for this,” he said in published reports. “We believe it, but I’ve said many times that in football the easiest thing to do is talk the talk. We’ve got to go and treat Cardiff like Manchester United and we’ve got to treat Sunderland like Manchester United. If we do we will win a lot of games until the end of the season. The rest of the teams around us have to believe we’re going for it.”

The win was Liverpool’s fifth consecutive in the league – they haven’t lost since their Dec. 29 match with Chelsea – and the club has taken 26 points out of its past 10 games.

And much of the credit goes to manager Brendan Rodgers.

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From the editor’s notebook …

tribe starting pitchingThe Cleveland Indians are just 22 days away from the opening of the 2014 season and so far they are only having the good kind of spring training problems.

The Tribe hasn’t had to deal with any major injury issues; the outfield rotation is looking good, particularly left fielder Michael Brantley, who is now hitting .615 in Cactus League play after going four-for-four on Saturday; Carlos Santana is doing what he can in the field at third base; reliever Vinnie Pestano seems to be on the right track to fixing what ailed him last season; and, most importantly, the starting pitching is looking solid.

The top three of Justin Masterson, Corey Kluber and Zach McCallister have quietly gone about their business this spring, and with Danny Salazar expected to make his first start with the regulars on Monday, the rotation is shaping up nicely.

The best part of the rotation may be at the No. 5 spot, of all places, as is it looks like manager Terry Francona is going to have a hard decision to make when it comes time to make the final roster decisions.

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Tonight should be about Zydrunas and nothing else

cavs to retire zydrunasTonight at Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers will retire the No. 11 jersey of former center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who played for the team for 12 seasons.

Ilgauskas is the Cavs all-time leader in games played, offensive rebounds, total rebounds and blocked shots, and is second in points scored. He was also a two-time All Star and a member of the only team in franchise history to make the NBA Finals.

And he did it all after overcoming foot injuries that, at the time, seemed certain to stop his career before it even got started.

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Kyrie will do what Kyrie wants to do

kyrie irving leavingWill he stay or will he go?

That’s the mega question that the Cleveland Cavaliers and All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving will face … at some point.

ESPN’s Brian Windhorst is the latest to tackle the question, laying out both the best-case scenario – Irving signs a multi-year extension when the Cavs offer one on July 1 – and the worst-case – Irving rejects an extension and the Cavs decide to trade him by the Oct. 31 deadline for third-year players to accept a new deal.

No one knows how this is going to play out and there is really only one certainty in the whole situation – Irving will do what every pro athlete has done since the dawn of free agency in professional sports, and that is make the decision that he thinks is best for him.

And that’s why we’re not going to worry about this.

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From the editor’s notebook …

2014_01_mack_browns_rightNothing is ever concrete until a player signs a new deal, but it is encouraging to hear reports that the Cleveland Browns are working to resign All Pros Alex Mack and T.J. Ward before they hit free agency next month.

The season-long fear was that the Browns would let Mack and Ward walk in free agency because they play positions that then-CEO Joe Banner did not deem worthy of a big-money contract. But now that general manager Ray Farmer is running the show, things may be different.

Say what you will about Ward and Mack – we know they have their detractors – but they are very good players (especially Mack, who has yet to miss a game in five seasons in Cleveland) and they both seem to get more credit from outside of Cleveland than they do closer to home. If the Browns are serious about getting better, they are the kind of players the team needs to keep.

The Browns also have numerous other holes to fill across the roster and it seems counter-productive to create more problems for yourself by not signing two of your best players and creating even more holes. You also don’t want to run the risk of letting them hit free agency, where all it would take is one desperate team to throw a bunch of money at them, and having them walk away.

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Never underestimate the power of a good day in Cleveland

Steven GerrardIt’s a beautiful day
Don’t let it get away
It’s a beautiful day – U2

When we woke up this morning we were afraid that Tuesday’s blockbuster news from the Cleveland Browns had only been some beautiful dream.

But then we realized that it was true, Jimmy Haslam really had rid the Browns of general manager Mike Lombardi (and CEO Joe Banner) and we knew it was going to be a beautiful day.

The day only got better with the news that new general manager Ray Farmer is not only talking with Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden about a contract extension, but Farmer may also value Pro Bowl centers and Pro Bowl safeties more than Banner.

The news was so positive surrounding the Browns that the good vibes spread far beyond the walls of 76 Lou Groza Blvd. in Berea.

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From the editor’s notebook …

cavs dan gilbertWith revenue down at the Horseshoe Casino in January, casino owner Dan Gilbert had some free time on his hands and that helped him remember that he also owns a basketball team in town.

Without the casino distracting him for a few minutes, Gilbert discovered that the Cleveland Cavaliers are currently in the midst of their fourth consecutive dismal season and realized that he need to make some kind of move to show that he still cares about what happens inside Quicken Loans Arena.

Once Gilbert decided to do the ever popular “something” to show the fans that he still cares, the question became what to do.

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Cavs seeing their season slipping away

cavs losing seasonA few weeks, or in some cases even just a few days, can make a big difference during the season for a professional sports team.

Don’t believe us? Just ask Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown or anyone affiliated with the team.

When the Cavs were able to turn an immature, injured and malcontented Andrew Bynum into the talented Luol Deng on Jan. 7, the deal left many fans believing that the Cavs, while maybe not turning the corner on the season, were at least ready to occupy a better place in the NBA landscape.

The believe was strengthened when the Cavs went a respectable 3-2 on Deng’s first road trip with the team and returned home with a renewed sense that the playoffs were a possibility in the weak Eastern Conference.

Then the past eight days happened.

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