Welcome to the thirty-first installment of Right Down Euclid’s “Weekly Roundtable.” This Friday Jerry Bulone and Chris Manning sit down and discuss the latest trending topics concerning your Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA. The combination of rotating RDE duos answer three questions regarding the hometown Wine and Gold and two questions surrounding the league.
Today the discussion revolves around the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge, Kyrie Irving’s tiredness, Irving’s busy weekend in Houston, the All-Star event to most look forward to and the chances that the Boston Celtics and/or Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs.
First Question: Which Cavalier will have the biggest game in the BBVA Rising Stars Challenge?
Jerry Bulone: I predict it will be Dion Waiters. The reason is obviously Kyrie will only play a few minutes in the beginning of the game. Tristan will put up his usual solid double-double, as he will not be overly aggressive (and that’s a good thing). Zeller just doesn’t have the skill yet to shine in a game like this. This brings me to Waiters. His game is perfect for this type of situation—little defense and wide-open shots. If Waiters shot is falling, he could easily be the highest scorer in the game.
Chris Manning: Tristan Thompson. For one, I agree with Jerry that Kyrie probably won’t play all that much. Out of the three remaining players, Thompson is the best. He’ll get loads of rebounds and will score when he gets the opportunity. I also choose Thompson because I don’t have enough faith in Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller to predict that they will have big games. Dion is hit or miss – he’ll either shoot well or he won’t. Zeller, who I think will play a lot, will have to get his buckets in transition on a team featuring great scorers in Irving, Damien Lillard and Klay Thompson. Without question, Thompson is going to shine big.
Second Question: Is Irving’s fatigue concerning to you?
JB: Yes it is. When fatigue set in, injuries become a higher risk. I would hate for anything to happen to Irving that would cause any type of lengthy or lingering injury that could hang around. That being said, we all know Irving is the ultimate competitor, and when he steps on the court, there is no telling him to downshift to a lower gear. The only thing to really do is let him play, enjoy his game, and hope nothing to bad happens (i.e. Derrick Rose)
CM: Absolutely. As much as I want Irving to play lots of minutes, it is not worth it to have him worn down in a season that ultimately will not amount to much. There is going to be a time when Irving needs to play 35+ minutes a night, but that is not now. From time to time I hope Irving gets rest to avoid wear and tear. If the Cavs were a title contender then I would say push his limits and go after the trophy. But the Cavs are not a title contender and they need to give the young blood some rest – if only for the benefit of their future.
Third Question: Which All-Star event will Kyrie show up biggest in?
JB: I think it will be the actual All-Star game on Sunday. I just do not see him playing that much on Friday, or having much success in the Three Point Contest. Thus the All-Star game should provide the appropriate stage for Irving to showcase his rare and amazing talents. He will not win MVP, but do not be surprised if he is among the leaders in points and assists for the Eastern Conference. The best thing for all you conspiracy theorists out there is that you will finally get to see Kyrie and LeBron play together on an NBA floor. Who knows, perhaps LeBron will yearn for more.
CM: First off, I don’t expect Irving to play a ton Friday, so that rules the Rising Stars Challenge out. He’s not the favorite in the Three Point Contest, so that rules that out. So, by process of elimination, I pick the All-Star Game itself. He’s not likely to be the leading scorer, but he is going to set people like LeBron James up for buckets. That is a big stage and, as we know, Irving thrives in the biggest moments. And honestly, there is no bigger stage this weekend than Sunday’s big show. But to be honest, it would not shock me if he shows up big in all three. He is that good.
Fourth Question: What is your favorite All-Star weekend event?
JB: I have to admit, while I like the whole Saturday night, the Slam Dunk Contest is still my favorite. While most of the stars are long gone, and most every dunk has been done over and over, there is still that unknown factor – like the dunk contest a few years ago with Dwight Howard and Nate Robinson wearing “kryptonite shoes.” It’s just fun, and while I am usually disappointed, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit I look forward to it.
CM: The All-Star Game. It’s the best All-Star game in professional sports and it’s never dull. It’s high scoring, fast paced and the players actually play hard. And how often do you get to see that many great players play together and just have fun? Also, nothing else really does it for me. I like the Rising Stars game, but the Slam Dunk Contest has no stars or elite players anymore, making it meaningless. The Three Point Contest is cool, but not all that exciting. The same goes for the Skills Challenge – it’s cool, but it’s nothing special.
Fifth Question: Which would you bet on: the Lakers making the playoffs or the Celtics reaching the postseason?
JB: I just am not buying either of these two teams. I know I could get better odds with Vegas if I took neither, and honestly that’s how I see it playing out. The Lakers are a mess. While they may be playing OK for now the fact remains that they have a bunch of players that do not fit coach D’Antoni’s system (especially Gasol). Howard and Nash seem like shells of the players they once were, and Kobe isn’t getting any younger either. With Boston, they were a .500 team before they lost their best player. Eventually that will catch up to them. I actually think it is more likely Pierce or Garnett gets traded, than them making the playoffs.
CM: Gun to my head, I pick the Lakers. They still have Kobe Bryant as their star and he’s still got it at age 34. They also have Dwight Howard, and that has to count for something. Their overall roster is not that impressive, but I simply have more faith in Los Angeles. Boston is in a weaker conference, but I would bet Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnet (both who have not missed a game) will be showing their age here pretty soon. Also, I think if Andrew Bynum comes back and is effective, the Philadelphia 76ers are going to have that eighth seed locked up. Give me LA, but like Jerry said, I am not too confident in either of these teams, who appeared in the Finals just a few years back.
Make sure to check back next week to see what Jerry Bulone and Dan Pilar have to debate at the “Weekly Roundtable.”