How the Cavs broke the NBA in 2017

The switch.

I will be the first to admit it. I lost my faith during the regular season this year. Everyone kept talking about this “switch” the Cavs will flip come playoff time. The “switch” that will allow them to dominate after an okay regular season.  The “switch” that would once again send us to the finals.

I honestly didn’t believe such a “switch” ever existed. I didn’t think after the season we had, that we would even make it out of the Eastern Conference. We have arguably the best player to ever play in the NBA on our team, and if we couldn’t dominate the regular season, we had no chance to make it to the finals again, let alone win. I even bet a pizza on it.

And ladies and gentlemen, I am here to say…

I was wrong.

I was taught at a young age that practice makes permanent. That is to say, maintaining good habits during the practice is oftentimes more important than the practice itself. If you get lazy, that stays with you. There is only an added benefit to practice, so long as it is executed properly. Watching game after game of the Cavs acting lazy and tired on the court all season long, I was understandably worried.

The 80/20 rule.

The Cavs discovered this season that they can operate under the Pareto principle and still dominate in the playoffs. Oh, what’s that? You’ve never heard of the Pareto principle? You may know it as the 80/20 rule:

Pareto Principle

Some of the most successful people I know live by this principle. In its simplest form, it states that you put 80% of your time in 20% of your work. So, the regular season of the NBA has 82 games. It’s my firm belief that the Cavs (or more likely, just LeBron) realized that it is not vital to try and win all 82 games, and in fact, it is illogical to do so. We went 57-25 last season, compared to the Warriors’ impressive 73-9, and we still came out victorious. This year we were just 51-31, still making it into the playoffs, but earning a second-seed position. LeBron sat out 8 games this year, compared to 6 games last year. By contrast, Steph Curry only sat out 3 games in each of the last two seasons.

The Cavs are 12-1 this post season. They are the first team in the Eastern Conference to reach the finals with one or fewer losses in the playoffs since the 1995-1996 Bulls (and, the Bulls finished 72-10 in their regular season that year).

LeBron figured out how to rig the system in his favor. And, if you think about it, by employing the 80/20 rule, he isn’t really rigging anything, per se. He just figured out a way to get his team to work smarter, not harder. Isn’t that the true American dream?

Will it pay off in a championship again this year? If you had asked me a month and a half ago when we barely beat the Pacers 108-109… I would have said no chance. But now, I’m not so sure.

I guess we’ll find out soon enough… Game 1 of the NBA Finals is June 1st at 9PM. See you all there.

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This was always our year: Part II

 

Cleveland is on fire (and I say that to include the dumpster fire that is the Browns so far this season, mind you), and there is no stopping us now. The Cavs win the championship for the first time ever and now, with an impressive record of 91-65, the Indians clinch their first division title in nearly a decade?? Is this real life? Hello, October 🙂

As long as you get blackout drunk every Sunday morning before the Browns play, it’s good to be a Cleveland fan in 2016.

More locker room fun at Bottlegate.com.

This was always our year

I was up early this morning.

The streets were quieter than usual, probably due to the fact that most of the town was still sleeping off the previous nights’ celebration. Though it was quiet, there was something different in the air. Something that this city hasn’t felt in 52 years. Victory.

We all wake up this morning as champions. The entire city of Cleveland. For everyone who ever doubted us, for Believeland, for everything else we’ve gone through… we made it. We are all winners today. And damn, does that feel good.

 

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It. Happened. !!!!! #cleveland #mycity #ahhhhhhh

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Did I ever tell you guys my grandpa shot hoops with LBJ in 2002?

I finally got a chance to watch Believeland last night, which originally aired prime time Saturday on ESPN. And while I wasn’t a huge fan of some of the people they interviewed for it (I’m looking at you, Windy), I thought it was well put together. It was probably super depressing for anyone who has lived through the heartbreak that is Cleveland sports, but, in all honestly I think it was mostly a learning experience for my generation.

As a 25-year-old female who was born and raised in Cleveland, I never rooted for any other teams. I never saw any relevance in any other teams besides the Browns, the Cavs, and the Tribe. I heard stories from my dad and my grandpa about the painful history in Cleveland sports, and I knew we hadn’t seen a championship since my dad was all but five years old, but it’s hard to put that disappointment in perspective when you haven’t experienced 90% of it first hand.

It’s important to note that I only started actively following Cleveland sports when I was a freshman in college, so around 2009-2010. I worked for my school’s football team so I started paying more attention to the Browns, and learning the differences between NCAA football and the NFL. I began to familiarize myself with players, stats, coaches, and all that–partly because I was around dudes like 75% of the time and that’s all they wanted to talk about, and partly because I found it all so interesting. I like learning new things because I’m a freak, but whatever.

When I look back at my own recollection of monumental moments in Cleveland sports history, there are two major ones that I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when it happened. You probably know where I’m going with this. First time being, where I was (Myrtle Beach) and what I was doing (sitting on the couch, trying to get everyone to hush while I listened) when The Decision aired, and where I was (at my old apartment sitting on my roommate’s massive sectional) and what I was doing (eating peanut butter, responding to a twitter message about it) as soon as the SI article was tweeted and LeBron announced he was coming home. The fact that those two moments are so ingrained in my memory, made Believeland a lot more meaningful to someone like me.

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In my lifetime, the Indians have been to the World Series twice (and lost), the Cavs went to the finals twice (and lost), and the Browns were the quintessential “Maybe Next Year” team (just as they have always been). Last year when the Cavs made their playoff run, I knew there was no way we would win a championship. But something feels different about this year. Up until last night I had no doubt in my mind that 2016 was our year. No doubt in my mind that we were bringing a championship home. As it stands today, we are 9-0 in the playoffs–sweeping the first two teams–and damn, do we look good out there. This team is fun to watch. They look like they are actually having fun. That’s what’s different about this year… there is no longer these vibes of frustration and disappointment all over the court. I can’t explain it. I just have a feeling.

And then all of a sudden, last night I’m plucked off of my cloud; woken up from my dream state, and reminded that this is what always happens. It gets so close that we can actually see it, touch it, taste it, feel it… And then it’s ripped away from us, in the most painful way possible. The Commissioner’s Trophy was literally in our locker room and it had to be removed. The champagne was popped in the dugout. The drive, the fumble, the move. The shot, the decision, the return. It begs the question, what will this city do if it finally happens? And more importantly, what will we do if it doesn’t?

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Misconceptions I had about the Cavs this season

I’ll admit, much like any long-time fan of Cleveland sports, I’ve had my reservations about this year’s Cavs team. We, in Cleveland, can’t get our hopes up too high when it comes to championships–even with the world’s best player on our team–since we typically end up dropping the ball in the end (literally and figuratively). However, one game into the Cleveland Cavaliers’ first playoff run since LeBron last played for us in 2010, and a 100-113 win over the Boston Celtics has renewed the fan faith here in Cleveland. A championship is so close we can actually taste it. More people than ever (including those genius freaks in Vegas) admit that Cleveland may very well win its first championship since 1964… and the first championship for the NBA franchise, ever. This team has come such a long way, that even I’m close to accepting they may be unstoppable. Since the rocky start at the beginning of the season, there were a lot of misconceptions floating around about the team and its players. I looked deeper into a few to see how first impressions changed now that we’re in the post-season.

J.R. Smith is trash

I really didn’t pay much attention to J.R. Smith when he played for the [irrelevant] Knicks until I watched a video of him untying his opponent’s shoe laces on the foul line last year. From that point on, I was convinced he was a complete scumbag — just another player that is making a joke out of a sport he gets paid a ton of money to play in. Then, in the middle of the season, the Cavs took part in a trade that sent Dion Waiters to OKC and gave us J.R. and Iman Shumpert. I wasn’t impressed… in my mind, we were getting an injured player in Shump, and swapping the piss-poor attitude of Dion for another player with the same story. What exactly were we thinking on this? Everyone I complained to told me to calm down, that we only got J.R. because he was a package deal with Shump. Once Shump’s injury was all healed I’d see why this trade benefited us. maxresdefault But before Shump could even play any material amount of minutes in the game, J.R. Smith proved me wrong. It was beyond evident that he was, and continues to be, an asset to this team, crushing threes like it’s his job (well, it kind of is). He’s admitted multiple times since coming to Cleveland that he’s been taking the game more seriously (he says it’s because there’s nothing to do in Cleveland after 9pm, but whatever). And then there was this well-written and all out impressive essay J.R. wrote for The Cauldron, commenting on his mid-season trade, defending his reputation, and applauding his teammates. I have since changed the way I view J.R. on and off the court, and he’s easily become one of my favorite players on this team.

Kevin Love is the truth

I mean. There are no stats to prove that this statement is false. And if you looked at Kevin Love’s stats, you’d think he was a totally consistent player, posting double-doubles out the ass and putting up some pretty solid numbers game-to-game. It is for this reason that my dad calls him Casper the Friendly Ghost. Because you watch him out there on the court, and it looks like he isn’t doing much of anything. He’s slow, his presence isn’t really felt out there, he just isn’t that impressive. That is, until you realize he’s put up 19 points (despite having hardly scored in the entire first half) and got 12 rebounds right under your judgmental nose. So, I’m torn. A part of me is like YEAH K Love… one of the big three BABY, and I see him on the court and I think… is he really though? J.R.’s piece actually comments on this point, saying, “More important than what you notice about Love’s game, though, is what you don’t. He does all of the little things a team needs to win.” And though this is a different role for him than I think most people assumed he would take when he agreed to come to Cleveland, for now it’s working. He can keep being Casper. Beautiful, tall, scruffy Casper.

The team will crumble if LBJ isn’t in the game

This was only a misconception because I assumed the team would only crumble if LeBron didn’t play. I assumed any other player on the team sitting out wouldn’t have much affect on the game on way or the other. LeBron is that charismatic leader that pushes the team to perform at its highest level, that isn’t something I’m trying to dispute. But, what I began to realize after watching throughout the season, is the team looks a whole lot worse when Kyrie sits out. I checked out the stats too… out of the 13 games LeBron missed in regular season, the Cavs won three of those games (23%), which is pretty piss poor to begin with. HOWEVER, in games that Kyrie didn’t play? We only won one game out of seven he missed (14%). If you take into account the three games both players sat out (1/5, 2/27 and 4/12 which were all losses), then the winning percentage is still 30% of the games LeBron sat out and only 25% for Kyrie. It may be LeBron’s team, but I’d argue that Kyrie’s presence on the court is vital.


I’ll leave you with a quote from J.R.’s essay, because this is the mindset we all need to stay in as we keep moving forward in the playoffs. One game down, 15 to go…

As for what comes next in Cleveland, I will make it real simple for you: If we continue to play the way we have been playing, I don’t think anyone can beat us.

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