Oh 2007, how distant of a memory you are. Our last championship and Finals appearance. This was also LeBron James's first Finals appearance, showing up against our mighty Spurs . LeBron was much smaller back then, and seems to have grown in both size and talent since, reaching the Finals twice more and winning last year, while the Spurs have yet to get out of the Western Conference. But that 2007 Spurs team was special: they had the best defense in the league, allowing the least points per game at 90.1. They also scored better than average, coming in at 14th in the league with 98.5 per game. Only four players remain on the team since then: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Matt Bonner. This shows how PATFO's strategy well: building around their Big Three with complementary role players and three point shooters such as Brent Barry, Bruce Bowen, Michael Finley and Robert Horry in 2007 and Danny Green, Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard now. On the other side, Cleveland more or less blew up their 2007 team, with Daniel Gibson and Anderson Varejao as the only holdovers, and Varejao as the only legit star that they could build around, but he's been hurt pretty frequently, before having a breakout season this year...and then promptly getting hurt again.
The Cavaliers have not had much success since LeBron took his talents to South Beach. After their first ever Finals appearance (and last, so far), they fell back to earth, never making it past the Eastern Conference Finals since. After James left, they went from winning 61 games in his final season, to 19 wins the next, a drop of 42 games. They also lost 26 in a row, the longest losing streak in NBA history. Fortunately, this would give them the #1 pick in the 2011 draft, Kyrie Irving, who has blossomed very quickly into a bona-fide star.
The Spurs were in Cleveland last night, their last game before the All-Star Break. They faced the Cavaliers, who have a really young and promising core. Kryie Irving (20), Tristan Thompson (21), Tyler Zeller (23) and Dion Waiters (21) were all top 20 first round picks these past two drafts, and have shown that they'll be really good in a couple of years. Kyrie Irving is their only All-Star, but he'll be busy, having to compete in the All-Star game, the 3-point shootout and the Rising Stars Challenge. He's also hit a few game-winners this season, showing how clutch he's been.
Drew Carey's Hometown
- CLEVELAND ROCKS! Well, maybe it did in the 90s...the 1890s, to be specific. Post-Industrial Revolution slam!
- J.D. Rockefeller, widely thought of as one of the richest people ever, and a true industrial magnate, lived in Cleveland. What exactly made him rich? His business trust, Standard Oil Company, controlled nearly 90% of oil flow in the late 19th century, making it a monopoly if there ever was one.
- Again on the topic of polluted rivers: the Cuyahoga River was so polluted, there were no fish near Cleveland at its peak of pollution. Oh, and it's caught fire a few times, starting in 1969, according to The Fordham Environmental Law Journal. This helped spur the environmental movement in the United States.
- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame resides in Cleveland, which I suppose, proves that Drew Carey was right.
- When the league expanded to include a team in Cleveland, the owners let the fans decide on the team's name in the local newspaper, the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. They chose wisely over other options such as the Foresters, Towers or Presidents.
- Cleveland was a great city during the Industrial and Technological Era. So many firsts happened there: First Electric Streetcar, First U.S. Newspaper for African-Americans (in 1853), first X-Ray photograph in the U.S. (in 1896), and the first electric traffic signal in the U.S (1914). It must've been great to live in a time of such the first ever electronic and technological advancements in the United States.
Role Players Hash
On a night when the Spurs were playing at full strength once again, I thought the game was going to be a breeze, even though Cleveland is one of those teams with a bad record that isn't that bad (sometimes), just like the Hornets, the Wizards (ever since John Wall came back), and the Pistons. But only Tony excelled, with Timmy and Manu showing obvious signs of rust, and playing low minutes.
Are the Spurs playing DeJuan Blair more so they can increase his trade value? He had 3 dunks in the first half finishing with 12 points and 5 rebounds in only 18 minutes. If they are about to trade him, he showcased his skills pretty well.
Quotes of the Night
"Half the ball don't lie"
The Cavaliers announcers on Tim Duncan hitting only one of two free throws after a questionable foul on him by Marreese Speights. Let's just say they did not approve.
On Matt Bonner's defense:
"It's not hard to put him in cement boots."
Tony was spectacular once again, grabbing a good amount of rebounds and distributing the ball well. He also hit a lot of key buckets when it seemed the Spurs were stuck in a bit of a rut during the second half. Played a team high 34 minutes.
Had to give the Game Runt to Kyrie, as he didn't hit the game winner, and was off his game most of the night.
Numbers of Note
- 6 - Points Kyrie Irving scored, a season low.
- 1 - Dose of Kyrie Irving's medicine that was given to the Cavs. Paging Dr. Kawhi Leonard...
- 9 - Blocks that Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard earned against the Cavs, with Timmy grabbing more than the Cavs all by himself (5 against 4).
- -4 - Rebounding differential, a RRT low.
- 1 and 1 - Points and Rebounds needed by Marreese Speights for a double-double.
- 5 - Kyrie Irving fouls, which greatly limited his aggressiveness in the final quarter, along with a lingering ankle issue.
- 54 - Points contributed by the non-Big Three tonight, which were very greatly needed.
Odds & Ends
- Luke Walton sighting! He's averaging 15 minutes a game with the Cavs, that's a surprise.
- Maybe an even bigger surprise: Shaun Livingston, once heralded point guard with crazy upside until his horrific knee injury, is trying to make a comeback with the Cavs. He still has good athleticism, and showed it last night with steals, good jumping ability and a dunk.
- Tristan Thompson and Tim Duncan worked out together during the lockout season. The former Longhorn practiced in Austin during the summer and it seems like he got close with Timmy. Suddenly, I understand why Tristan has a new repertoire of moves and improved post presence this season.
- The Cavs were hitting a lot of long two pointers in the first half, then they cooled down in the second half, until the almost-dagger by Dion Waiters in the waning seconds of the final quarter.
- Why do the Spurs insist on being lackadaisical in the first half of games only to turn it up in the final frames? Always getting me stressed.
Taking a well-deserved long break