Here at Blue Man Hoop, we’re gearing up for the 2012-13 season by looking around the NBA to see how each team matches up with the Golden State Warriors. We’ll give you an overview of each opponent, a matchup or stat to watch and a measure of just how big a threat each opposing squad represents for the Dubs. Be sure to check out the other previews we’ve done so far on Blue Man Hoop: Atlanta Hawks, Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Bobcats, Chicago Bulls.
Cleveland Cavaliers Overview
Man, the Cavs suck. At least they did last year. How’s that for an overview?
Hoopdata‘s got the details on their suckitude in 2011-12. Cleveland ranked 27th in offensive efficiency and 27th in defensive efficiency, so at least they were consistent in their awfulness. Overall, the Cavs finished the season with a record of 21-45, good enough to earn them the fourth pick in the draft which they curiously used on Syracuse’s Dion Waiters, who didn’t even start for Jim Boeheim’s Orange.
On the positive side of things, Cleveland does have Kyrie Irving, who looks a little like a a younger version of Chris Paul. He’s quick, but not exceptionally so, and doesn’t jump out of the gym. But like Paul, he’s got a slick handle and the strength to work his way just about anyplace he wants on the floor. He may never be the distributor Paul is, but the similarity is there.
Irving posted a sterling PER of 21.49 as a rookie, averaging 18.5 points and 5.4 assists on 47 percent shooting. He even proved he could knock down the NBA three, shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc.
Along with Waiters, who’ll contend with CJ Miles and Daniel Gibson for the starting job at shooting guard, Cleveland drafted North Carolina center Tyler Zeller. Zeller looks like a decent NBA player who’ll probably play plenty of minutes behind Anderson Varejao and the disappointing Tristan Thompson (who the Cavs picked fourth last year).
Small forward is a disaster in Cleveland. The options include Alonzo Gee, Omri Casspi and Luke Walton. Yuck.
In short, expect Cleveland to have another top-five pick in the 2013 NBA draft. This roster’s going nowhere.
Key Matchup / Important Stat
The Warriors beat the Cavs 105-95 in the teams’ lone matchup last season. David Lee had a field day, shooting 13-for-20 on his way to 29 points and nine boards. Even Andris Biedrins got into the act, pulling down 11 rebounds in 23 minutes. Stephen Curry didn’t play, and Monta Ellis shot a spiffy 2-for-12, but Cleveland was still no match for the Dubs.
And since Irving is the Cavs’ only real NBA player, I guess he qualifies as the key matchup by default. He had a nice game against Golden State last season, scoring 18 points, grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out five assists. He also turned the ball over six times, nearly twice his season average.
Irving is the type of player that the Warriors struggled to stop last year—a quick, strong ball handler. At least this time around, Andrew Bogut will be there to bother Irving when he inevitably gets into the lane, which will theoretically prevent him from hitting more than half his shots (he went 7-for-13 last year, including 3-for-3 on attempts around the rim).
Threat Level: 1/10
Cleveland is a bottom feeder in the inferior Eastern conference. And although Irving might be the best player on either team, he doesn’t have anything close to the help he needs around him. The Warriors are too big, too deep and too skilled to worry about the Cavs. Two easy wins for the Warriors, coming right up!