Cleveland Sports Insiders

Ernie Camacho's favorite blog…

Cavalier Daggers…with Dion Waiters domination…

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(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

Dion Waiters (AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

If there is one word that describes how I’ve felt about the Cavaliers over the past fourteen days, curious wouldn’t be that word.

Disgusted would fit.

Annoyed would work.

Disenchanted would suit me just fine.

Curious would be far from the discussion, unless you incorporate the Miami Heat into the discussion…especially this year.

On Wednesday night, the night before Thanksgiving, the Miami Heat headed to Cleveland for a matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Miami Heat are the defending champions.

The Miami Heat are the two-time defending champions.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, most assuredly, are not.

There couldn’t be two teams further from each other over the past three seasons since LeBron James left Cleveland amidst a flurry of burned jerseys, grown men crying, and football sized banners being cut down.

The Heat, if at all possible, seem to be a team that are really just now figuring out how to manage themselves the right way during the regular season. They have a coach that’s still learning, and a team that truly fits together and understands the roles that they play.

Role models create roles.

The Cavaliers, if at all possible, seem to be a team that plays worse night-after-night, never really figuring out how to manage their new pieces and parts, and truly not really seeming to care about how to do it. Their starting lineup seems to change on a daily basis, and I doubt that anyone either knows their roles, or really cares much to figure it out.

It’s hard not to look at the team and think…black holes…

Of course, it’s early in the season and the Cavs still have plenty of time to gel together…or at least that’s what everyone on twitter tells me.

Let’s take a look at today’s Cavalier Daggers:

  • Dion Waiters is on the trading block. I’m not going to rehash the whole story. Kyrie Irving calls a player-only meeting. All the players get a chance to talk. Dion gets his chance and calls out Irving and Tristan Thompson for playing “buddy ball” and ignoring him. Thompson and Waiters confronted each other, but the team stepped in and stopped a fight. According to ESPN’s Chris Broussard, Waiters has issues with several teammates, including Irving, and brought up the possibility of a trade with coach Mike Brown and GM Chris Grant in a meeting. Waiters believes that he is taken out of games for several things that Kyrie Irving is guilty of, such as not playing defense, turning the ball over, and heaving shots. He’s probably right about that a bit, but at the same time, shouldn’t Waiters be more concerned about fixing the problems HE has then worrying about Kyrie’s issues?
  • Dion Waiters came out and did everything he could to look like a player worthy to be traded. He did many, MANY things well during Wednesday night’s ballgame. He was aggressive, he got to the foul line, and he was able to essentially school several much better Heat players to get to the rim, including LeBron James. If he would have actually scored on many of the layups he created for himself, he’d have had a much, MUCH better night than his 24 points. He also didn’t help himself by going 6-for-11 from the foul line. What he did do was go 7-for-14 from the field, and 4-for-8 from behind the arc. He was the best player wearing a Cavaliers’ jersey. He also kicked the ball out when the shot wasn’t there to whoever was open. I liked the maturity that he showed.
  • Based on that, you either can’t trade him, or you can trade him, depending on how you look at it. If Waiters played the way he did last night, well…THAT’S the guy you drafted, but can he do it consistently? On top of that, can he get along with anyone? This is when we start talking about that chemistry issue, and things get all wonky, especially when you consider the issues the rest of this team has with continuity. I like Dion Waiters, and really don’t want him dealt just yet. I don’t care that he’s a sell low either, because there’s a small part of me that thinks he may ultimately be a better player than Kyrie, should a team give him that chance. I know that sounds heinous, but ponder this. Between the two: Who could be a better defender? Who could be the better primary ballhandler on this team? Who could be the better pure scorer if they are allowed to be aggressive? Who could be a better distributer? I honestly believe that if you’re honest with yourself, Dion Waiters COULD be the answer to all of those questions.
  • No, Dion Waiters isn’t perfect, and his game has a bunch of holes that Mike Brown’s game plans have seemed to accentuate, but I do think that the upside is there. The reality though is that you have to balance it with the team chemistry and the coach. Will he work with either? The answer, unfortunately, may be no, and when you combine that with a GM that may or may not be trying to save his job, you know a trade is imminent. Waiters may be the odd man out.
  • Here are the facts for me. Kyrie Irving is a sensational basketball player, but there are some severe issues that you really have to consider. He’s truly a horrible defender. I cannot begin to tell you how difficult it is for me to watch him getting pulled around like he’s tied to his defender by a rope. How many times will he run into a pick before he works hard to move around it, or accurately figures out how to switch?
  • Offensively, I have no clue what Kyrie is doing out there as a point guard. I can’t take away his monster games, but in between, he’s just not the superstar that everyone makes him out to be. I don’t mind turnovers at all, because may stars that handle the ball have a bunch of them. I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I know LeBron and Durant always have a bunch of turnovers. Of course, you ideally would at least have more assists than the turnovers, or be efficient offensively. Kyrie was neither, and really hasn’t been either for much of the season. He shot 31% from the field, and had one more turnover than assist. It was just bad.
  • For all of the heat that Dion gets, when Kyrie gets the ball, there are generally three outcomes at this point. The first, is he takes an odd jumper that has him fading away, or to the side, or it has him looking like an ice skater about to pirouette. The second is an uncontrollable drive to the hoop that ends in a miss or a bad pass or a stumble or something else that doesn’t equal points. The third is a straight up turnover.
  • With Kyrie, I keep coming back to his relationship with Byron Scott, and how Mike Brown’s hiring was excessively counterintuitive to Kyrie’s development. No, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have fired Scott, but I do question the thought process with regards to continuing to develop Irving, whose game really shouldn’t be this bad. Irving is rudderless right now. He’s getting killed in Brown’s defense, and has no idea what to do in his offense. Was there a better hire out there? I don’t care at this point, but Kyrie certainly has to be pondering that.
  • Dion had to feel good in a sense that he was so brilliant last night, and had Kyrie Irving played the way he’s supposed to as a preeminent point guard, the Cavs would have at least been in this game. Instead, as brilliant as Dion played, Kyrie played abysmally. It was Yin and Yang. It’s only one game, but boy…statement made.
  • Dion spent several minutes talking to Dwyane Wade after the game. Boy, if you could be a fly on the wall of that conversation. I wonder how long after that conversation it took for Wade to share the dissention to his boy LeBron. Let the conspiracy theories begin.
  • Here’s my thing…it’s never good when your team calls for a player’s only meeting after the ninth game of a coaching tenure. Doug Collins often says brilliant things, whether you like him or not, and he absolutely shredded them while calling the Heat/Cavs game. The essence of his discussion was that with a team building trust, everyone had to be in the conversation. Does that always happen? No. Did that always happen when Collins was a coach? No. But he had a point. Nine games into a coaching tenure, and you already need a player’s only meeting? How’d that work out for your team Mike?
  • I love Tristan Thompson, but I really cannot stand what I was watching last night. I had visions of a player that could be utilized as a pick-and-roll candidate from either side of the basket, and with either hand. The major problem with that is that for one, I’m not sure the Cavs have a clue how to run a pick and roll, and two, he went 1-for-6 last night, and I think all of his misses were in the paint, and most were layups that bounced really hard off of whatever they happened to hit. He did have 11 bourds in only 23 minutes, but goodness gracious. In his past two games, he’s 2-for-14 from the field, and in the past four, he’s 8-for-29. You do realize that he’s a big…right? He looks lost. He hasn’t played more than 27 minutes in four games, and my high hopes are sinking. Four games don’t make a career, but boy, this team is a mess.
  • Earl Clark played a great game last night, and I don’t really care who disagrees with me. I don’t think he’s ever going to be a superstar, but I truly believe he has a Robert Horry quality to his game. Horry was never a superstar, averaging seven points and five boards a game, but he was perhaps one of the top ten role players in recent memory. He’s 14-23 from the three-point line since he moved into the starting line-up on November 15th, and while he hasn’t started the last three games, his minutes have remained up for the most part. He’s an interesting player if he can continue, and if these Cavs can figure out how to play together. It’s funny, but their bench is pretty good.
  • For the sake of reason, let’s consider Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao and Andrew Bynum the starters on this Cavaliers team. I know they all aren’t, but they SHOULD be, and COULD be at some point. That leaves the Cavs with a bench of Alonzo Gee, Matthew Dellavedova, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark, Sergey Karasev, Carrick Felix, Anthony Bennett, C.J. Miles, Henry Sims and Tyler Zeller. Now, there are some guys on that list that bring about groaning, but those guys tend to have some upside. If I were to ask you to pick the starters or the bench, would it be an easy choice?
  • The actual bench scored 58 points last night, thanks to Dion Waiters.
  • Sergey Karasev played a ton of minutes in last night’s game, and it really intrigued me in that he really didn’t suck. He just turned 20 years old, and there wasn’t a moment that I thought about that last night. He’s played in about 20 minutes a game over the past two, and I really think that the Cavs may have hit a home run with this kid. No, it won’t be this year, or even the next, but I actually think that when he starts gaining confidence, he has some star potential as a ball handler and a spot up shooter.
  • Anthony Bennett didn’t play. Matthew Dellavedova did.
  • Andrew Bynum is a really good player, on a team that has no clue how to utilize him. He has to want to jump off a bridge at this point. He looked good early, and horrible late. I’m not sure if he can be blamed for the horrid, because Kyrie Irving has no clue how to set up an offense to get him a ball in position to score. Sure, the Heat are the best defensive team in the league, but when Kyrie or Jarrett Jack or even Dion Waiters would get him the ball, they’d lead their defender right to him. Bynum would end up with three guys around him in a corner, and have no chance to do anything. This offense has to develop some sort of pick-and-roll, and post up game. If they do, the pieces are all there. If they don’t, the pieces are all there for a disaster…Jabari Parker anyone?
  • So, the Heat just looked bigger than the Cavs. I’m not going to run down the height and weight of each player, but it looked like the Bad News Bears had just walked into the AstroDome, and were about to play the Astros. Okay, not a good analogy, but you get my point. The Heat are just on another level, and the Cavs aren’t anywhere near them in any sense. I can’t imagine that there is any chemistry on any level that will allow the Cavs to be a contender in the near future, unless a couple of things happen. Injuries are one. LeBron coming home is another. I don’t see either happening. There’s no way LeBron can say this team is close. They aren’t.
  • The crowd still booed LeBron fairly heavily, but there was clearly a little more pro-LeBron that in past years. Part of it was the ‘Come Home LeBron’ movement that was very present outside Quicken Loans Arena. So, the shirts are lime green (?), and so are the billboards that almost always never work in convincing a player to sign with any particular team. What do I think? I don’t care at this point. I want the Cavs to win a title, the same way I want the Indians to win a title, the same way I want the City of Cleveland to have a title. I would love it to be without LeBron, just to say it was without LeBron…but how long with that take? That said, LeBron would have to lose his senses to rejoin this hot mess. A lot will have to change.

The Cleveland Cavaliers head to Boston to face off against the storied Boston Celtics. This isn’t the Boston Celtics you remember, though. The team is coached by former Butler head coach, Brad Stevens, and are off to a 6-11 start in what can only be called a rebuilding year. They don’t score very well, and turn the ball over a ton.

Sound familiar?

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