Welcome to the twenty-third installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Dan Pilar and I sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. We answer three questions concerning the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today we will be discussing Kyrie Irving’s meaning to the team, C.J. Miles’ offensive outburst, Kyrie as an All-Star hopeful, the Los Angeles Lakers’ problem(s) and the Miami Heat’s weakness.
First Question: Kyrie Irving got back to business against the Lakers, recording a double-double with 28 points and 11 assists. How many +/- games does Irving make this team?
Zachary Kolesar: If I were to put a number to it during that 11-game stretch that the Cavaliers deeply missed Kyrie during, I would say if Irving was the starting point guard the team would have won four of those contests that they ended up losing. The problem with those four games is that the Cavs either go off to very slow starts or faltered in the fourth quarter. Crunch time is when the Cavaliers point guard shines best, so out of an 82-game total, I would give the Cavaliers a +12 game differential.
Dan Pilar: It’s crazy how different the team looked with Irving back. I can’t guess an exact number on it, but all I care about is that it is an improvement. He makes everyone around him so much better because when he drives to the hoop, so many defenders close in on him it opens it up for everyone else. He’s a great player only getting better.
Second Question: Dan wrote a piece on C.J. Miles earlier this week. Since C.J. Miles is so hot starting at the two, should Coach Byron Scott keep him there?
ZK: Miles has started the last three games, and has been a great offensive asset to the team during that time. Averaging 18.5 points over the last six games, he has finally broken out of the slump that he has been in from the beginning of the season. He is shooting the ball with confidence, especially from long range (56.3 percent from three). However, I don’t agree with him staring full term. I think getting him starting action really helped him break out, but you spent a top five pick on Dion Waiters. He is your starter once he returns to full health.
DP: If he keeps this up, I don’t see why they would move him. The Cavs have had problems scoring points this season and Miles has come in and has been a big time scorer for us. The past two games he has scored 28 points, exactly what we want out of our two guard. I understand having Waiters coming off the bench isn’t ideal for his development, but if it works, why not? And in Kyrie’s absence Waiters points and assists totals went up.
Third Question: Where do you seeing Kyrie finishing in the All-Star voting?
ZK: Even though a struggling Dwyane Wade is leading the Eastern Conference backcourt in All-Star voting, the point guard position on the roster seems to belong to Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and the upstart Irving right now. I think that’s how it will end because there are really no other ones in the East threatening Kyrie right now. We saw what he did at the Rookie-Sophomore challenge, but now it’s time to see what he can do against the NBA’s best.
DP: He’ll get into the All-Star game and America will be introduced to the new point guard of the future. He has to compete with Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and that’s about it. His numbers are good enough, but now it is up to the voters to get him in.
Fourth Question: The Cavaliers beat the Lakers earlier this week, and they just currently lost to the New York Knicks. Kobe says the team has not purpose or stability. What do you think the problem is?
ZK: After watching the Lakers falter against the Cavaliers, get buried by the Knicks and almost lose at the hands of the Washington Wizards, the main problem I see with the Lakers is their transition game. Being an older team, they are also very slow running up and down the court. They are never looking very far up court after a turnover, and can never seem to get back on defense in the opposite situation. Even with Steve Nash, I just don’t think this team is good enough to be a force to reckon with in the Western Conference.
DP: The problem is they brought in a coach to install a new style of offense with the wrong players. I’m not saying they aren’t capable of running the fast-pace D’Antoni offense, I’m saying none of them ever have. Their two best players, Kobe and Dwight, have scored their points taking defenders on in the half-court game. This new offense calls for a lot of pick-and-rolls, which Dwight is capable of running, but gets fouled a lot, and we all know how poorly he shoots at the free throw line. And if you think the 38-year-old Steve Nash is going to fix that, you got another thing coming. The Lakers are screwed if you ask me.
Fifth Question: What do you think is the Miami Heat’s weakness?
ZK: Physicality. Yes, the Heat are a scary team to watch once their outside shooters get established and with LeBron running the court, but their original star, Dwyane Wade, seems to be what is holding them back this season. Wade has always relied on forcing shots and relying on the foul, but things haven’t gone his way this season. He is averaging career lows in rebounds, assists and steals, and is scoring at the lowest mark in his career since his rookie season. He seems to be digressing, and this can’t be good for a team that will run into money problems pretty soon.
DP: Rebounding. They don’t have any players who can throw their body around in the paint, which is a huge concern for a team that has fell in love with three-point shooting. But they aren’t too concerned right now. They know they are the best, and can beat any team they want in a seven-games series.
Make sure to check back next when Chris Manning rejoins Zachary and Dan for the “Weekly Roundtable.”