Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

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.

“Why wouldn’t you think you’re the best back court in the league?” Beal said during a radio the interview. “I’m pretty sure me and John feel like that, him and Kyrie feel like that, and (Golden State’s) Klay (Thompson) and Steph (Curry) feel like that. So it doesn’t matter. I mean, I would hope you have confidence in yourself, and believe that you’re the best in the league. I’m not worried about those guys or what they’re doing over there. I’m just trying to control what we can control, and trying to get wins.”

Funny, you’d think that someone who is not worried about what the Cavs are up to wouldn’t be talking about them, but there you go.

And setting aside the fact that Waiters should probably consider that he and Kyrie Irving play better when they are not on the court together, it’s just fun that the Cavs are once again back on the national radar.

But that also carries a bit of a burden for the team and new coach David Blatt.

We’re not worried about Blatt when it comes to the on-court side of the job. The more we read about him, the more we are excited to see the team in action. Hearing players, like Mike Miller, say that Blatt’s “offensive stuff is borderline genius. Once we get a hold of it, it’s going to be a big weapon,” only reinforces that desire. It’s the off-court stuff that has us worried.

With the Cavs putting together the latest “Big 3” with LeBron James, Kevin Love and Irving, the Cavs are going to turn into a traveling circus with a media scrum every night they play, especially on the road. Every bump in the road, every little player spat, is going to be magnified, and Blatt will have to deal with those questions over and over again during the season.

“A lot of people want to say, ‘Championship or bust’ and sure, that’s going to be a good mentality to have because we want the pressure on us,” Love said during last week’s  media day. “We want people to look at us as one of the best teams because we’re going to have to hold ourselves accountable for everything that we do with our actions on and off the floor.”

It doesn’t matter how much global experience he has, Blatt has never been through what is coming up this season. How he navigates through that aspect of the job, especially on those long winter nights when the team is playing five-of-six games on the road, will be just as important as what he does during the 48 minutes of actual game time each night.

The Cavs are back in the national spotlight and the fun is back in Cleveland.

Hopefully the team can hold up to the glare.

ben tate returnLet’s remember, depth is a good thing

When the Cleveland Browns take the field on Sunday in Tennessee against the Titans, running back Ben Tate is expected to return to the starting lineup for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.

The question now becomes who is the odd man out between Tate, Terrance West and Isaiah Crowell, who endeared themselves to Browns fans during the two games that Tate was out.

“It’s not an easy problem because if you spread it too thin over three, then you run the risk of none of them really getting into the groove of the game,” head coach Mike Pettine said in addressing the situation on Thursday. “If you restrict it to just two, now you’re looking at potentially having a guy that’s fresh on the sideline that’s not doing anything. It is an issue and you kind of have to play it by ear.”

Pettine is being diplomatic here, but it wouldn’t be a surprise if Tate and Crowell carry the workload on Sunday (and probably going forward). After averaging 6.3 yards per carry against the Steelers, West hasn’t been as productive the past two weeks as he has averaged just 3.3 yards per attempt (although he has found the end zone twice).

Tate also opens up the offense a bit more, according to Pettine.

“We had two rookies playing,” Pettine said in published reports. “We limited ourselves a little bit [with] some of the things we could do schematically having those guys in there. We didn’t want to throw the whole playbook at those guys. We felt that that restricted some of the things we could do.

“I think you can open the playbook up a little bit more with Ben in there. And Ben, in the short time he was in in the Pittsburgh game, was playing at a high level.”

The important thing to remember here is that depth is never a bad thing – especially for the Browns. West may lose some playing time this weekend, but the likelihood is high that he will see the field again soon.

(Photos courtesy of The Plain Dealer and

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