287: When Gravity Fails & Negativity Don't Pull You Through

2h 11m | Feb 1, 2023

Channeling a little Bob Dylan with this one. The Cavs' ability to manipulate gravitational parabolas led to a game that was way too close at the end, and we all know that managing close games is not John Blair Bickerstaff's specialty. There was a lot of teeth gnashing post-game about the Cavs' inability to close yet again, when they were lost in the rain in Juarez, when it's Easter time too: two brutal turnovers and a trio of Heat offensive rebounds lowlighted the last 150 seconds of the fourth. 

Nate, Chris, and Eli slogged into the podcast booth to sing Tom Thumb's Blues after this one, and a big early conversation was whether Donovan Mitchell (16/3/9, four steals +2) put on any airs when walking down Rue Morgue Avenue. Mitchell shot 3-13 this game from downtown on a bevy of jab-step and pull-up Js that really played into the Heat defense. Chris liked the shot selection, while Nate felt like they were bailing out Miami's matchup zone, and not moving defenders to set up passing lanes and offensive rebounds. Speaking of rebounds: Miami won that battle 45-39, with the nine offensive rebounds gouging Cleveland. They got some ugly women there, and they'll really make a mess out of you.

If you see J.B. Bickerstaff, please tell him thanks a lot. After Darius Garland went out at the 3:00 mark of the third quarter with foul trouble, Caris LeVert came in and played the next 12 straight minutes, and after a brilliant chase-down block of Victor Oladipo near the end of that stretch, Caris moaned, I cannot move, my fingers are all in a knot / I don't have the strength to get up and take another shot. Caris was mercifully subbed out, but re-appeared just three minutes later and played 18 minutes in the second half to middling efficiency. At the very least though, he's doing better than Vic Oladipo who has zero lift anymore after all the injuries, and who when interviewed after the game noted, my best friend, my doctor won't even say what it is I've got.

I hate to be Sweet Melinda, who the peasants call the Goddess of Gloom, and yeah Ispeaks good English as I invites you up into her room.  But, much of this game came down to three point shooting: the Heat took good ones when they were open and in the flow of the offense (against a yet again overhelping Cavs' D), and finished 14-31 from deep to the Cavs' 11-40. Additionally the Cavs the free throw disparity was galling too, as the Cavs were in the bonus at the 9:40 mark of the 2nd quarter and got just a pair of freebies out of it, as they repeatedly settled for the three point chucks I described earlier. 

Jimmy Butler (23/1/5) was lookin to get silly as he grifted his way into 15 free throw attempts, including a galling early three point foul where he basically kicked Garland to sweep the leg and ended up at the free throw line. J.B. finished a game with a challenge in his pocket yet again, and this would've been a prime one to use it on, but J.B. saved it for the end and then didn't' use it. Maybe coach Bickerstaff just thought to himself about the challenge, "You better go back to from where you came. Because the cops don't need you and man, they expect the same."

Now, all the authorities, they just stand around and boast about how Eric Spoelstra blackmailed official David Guthrie into leaving his post: giving the Heat a 18-25 to 6-12 free throw advantage.

And you'd think J.B. Bickerstaff would have been picking up Angel, Ricky Rubio, who just arrived from the coast a few games ago, but despite Ricky's 8/5/5 line, 2-4 from deep, and +6 in 17 minutes, J.B. played Okoro and a two center lineup in key moments of crunch time and ended up with an Ice turnover when Isaac stepped out of bounds and a Darius Garland miscue when he forced the ball into a packed paint for another turnover.

Then on one of the most half-assed OOB plays you'll ever see in the Association, the Cavs almost turned it over again when the Heat deflected the ball into the back court and Mitchell was forced to retrieve then kick to Mobley in the left corner for a brick at 1:23. Rubio would've looked a lot better in that corner. Man, J.B. looked so fine at first when he took over for Beilein, but after moments like these, John Blair's left looking just like a ghost.

As you might be able to tell, after this one, Chris Francis started out on burgundy, but soon hit the harder stuff. This might have been one of our most liquid podcasts in a year or so. A big point of contention was LeVerts's negativity don't pull you through (14/5/3, -19), which is a hell of a shift when Mobley puts up a 19/6/4 +16 line. As the author of #CarisLeVertAgenda, Chris was particularly despondent about the pairing of LeVert and Rubio, who don't seem to play well together, and the maddening lack of shooting on the bench lines. A blood feud between Eli and Chris ensued over what grade to give Caris this game.

Chris and the guys pulled up a whole lot of lineup data to prove the point that the Cavs' aren't optimizing their lineups, and that the Cavs' should make every night Turkish Heritage Night, so Cedi Osman can play second halves. Because after an 0-fer seven minute stretch in the first half, Cedi, despite leading his team this season in net rating and being second in the association off the bench in that stat, has to think the coach won't, "stand behind me when the game got rough." Chris pled for J.B. to go do some research on But when it comes to Cedi, J.B.'s so kind and careful not to go to him too soon. Bick takes your voice and leaves you howling at the moon.

Finally, the pod got very long in the tooth in the second hour when we wallowed in some trade slop. While not looking at a lot of options for the Cavs, the guys went through, I kid you not, every roster in the NBA to examine who where the buyers and sellers and who have the worst contracts in the NBA. Up on Housing Project Hill, it's either fortune or fame. You must pick up one or the other, though neither of them are to be what they claim. (I'm looking at you Ben Simmons, Evan Fournier, Trae Young, DeAndre Hunter, and Gordon Hayward. 

A whole lot of teams want a king's ransom and multiple first rounders for role players, as the Minnesota Rudy Gobert trade broke the Association. But as we get closer a lot of teams will figure out "the joke was on me, there was nobody even there to bluff." A lot of orgs will be left holding the bag with flawed rosters and even more flawed contracts.

The Cavs take on the the No. 2 team in the West, the Grizzlies, Thursday, and, despite big wins against the Ty Lue's JV squad, the Wine and Gold haven't won a game against a healthy team since December. After the Grizz, the Cavs have five games in seven nights, part of a seven game in 10 night stretch before the all-star break. Something has to change, because the Cavs have been a .500 team or worse since their early season win streak, and right now they possess zero ability to win close games. The question remains, can J.B. coach himself out of this hole? If he doesn't the Cavs may have to make a coaching move before Donovan Mitchell decides."I'm goin' back to New York City, I do believe I've had enough."

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