Breakfast Special: A Near-Choke In Cleveland

The Cleveland Cavaliers needed a win to snap the funk they’ve been in lately, but a 104-103 win over the Orlando Magic at home in a game where the Cavs nearly choked away a 20-point halftime lead despite their opponent making only five three-pointers the whole game? That’s bad. Like almost as bad as if they’d lost bad. LeBron James had 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting, a dreadfully inefficient performance for the King, and Isaiah Thomas, while leading the team with 21 points, shot 40 percent from the field and 30 percent behind the three-point line. Kevin Love got his …

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Breakfast Special: A King Gets Deposed on a King’s Day

With the exception of Christmas, no day of the year is a bigger hoops bonanza than Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and if you were lucky enough to have the day off, you could wake up at 9:30 on the West Coast, turn on League Pass, and have games until almost midnight. And like Christmas, you even got the biggest marquee matchup in the league… Warriors 2, Cavaliers 0, I Don’t Think This Is the Finals, Guys LeBron James had 32 points, but this Cavs team just isn’t very good. Isaiah Thomas is back to being the high-volume shooter and …

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Breakfast Special: Cleveland Cadavers

Just when you thought the Cleveland Cavaliers couldn’t get any worse after that ritual slaughter they endured in Minnesota Monday night, they came out and lost 133-99 to the Toronto Raptors. They’ve lost their previous two games by a combined 260-198, dropping their season-long point differential all the way to plus-1.1 in 96 minutes of basketball. Put another way, they dropped from a fringe contender to a team that would expect to go 44-38 over the course of a full season. Meanwhile, Toronto, with the big win, extended their own differential to plus-8.3, the second-best mark in all of basketball …

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Breakfast Special: Isaiah Thomas, You Magnificent Son of a Gun

The King in the Fourth, a point guard so good that Cleveland GM LeBron James was willing to swap Kyrie Irving for him (go ahead, argue with me), made his debut in a Cleveland uniform Tuesday… …and went 6-of-12 from the field for 17 points in only 19 minutes of action. Look out, NBA, Isaiah Thomas is back. And not a moment too soon, as Cleveland is currently 25-12 after a big win over the Portland Trailblazers by a 127-110 count. The league’s third-best offensive team (behind Golden State and Houston) and fourth-worst defensive team (ahead of only Atlanta, Phoenix, …

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J.R. Smith: Is He Any Good?

There’s a certain class of NBA player—Lance Stephenson, Robert Covington, Shane Battier—whose role as the “glue guy” is more important to the team’s winning ways than anything they actually do on the court. Sometimes those guys are good players in their own right; Covington is firmly in that fringe starter tier of guys who justify the minutes they’re given (14.5 PER, .113 WS/48, and 1.0 VORP, that last being on the edge of the second tier of NBA shooting guards we talked about yesterday.) Other times, those guys are more trouble than they’re worth, shooting teams out of games and …

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NBA Breakfast Special: LeBron And The Canton Charge

As complete wastes of a great night went, LeBron James scoring 39 points for the Cleveland Cavaliers but watching his team play like a G-League outfit in losing to the Milwaukee Bucks 119-116 Tuesday night has got to rank right up there. Sure, LeBron had seven turnovers, and sure, Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe went for 27 and 26 respectively and shot a combined 60 percent (18-of-30) to average 1.77 points per shot while between them having fewer turnovers (six) in 72 minutes than LeBron had in 34, but the simple fact remains that when the GOAT goes for 39, …

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NBA Breakfast Special: LeBron Goes Full Dark Ages

Before we begin, a nod to my favorite tweet by an NBA social media account so far this season: FUS…RO DAH! The sound of unrelenting force. Which is what one meets when they attempt to enter the paint against the Dragan! Suns down by 3 at the end of 1. #SunsAtWolves pic.twitter.com/3PtpRIAacZ — Phoenix Suns (@Suns) December 17, 2017 There is just so much to love about that. A Skyrim reference. Dragan Bender in a plastic mask. The Minnesota Timberwolves’ uniforms, which look like nothing so much as the FEV vats in Fallout 1. Sure, Minnesota won that game based …

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“Great Teams Gut Out Close Wins in the NBA”: WRONG!

The NBA is a league where point differential is the single strongest predictor across an 82-game season of success and failure. 30 points is worth a win (give or take, and adjusted for pace, but it’s right around 30.) Which is to say, for every plus-one in point differential over a season, it’s good for about 2.7 wins. Every major advanced stat that deals with wins (from playoff-odds projections to Estimated Wins Added/WAR) is based on this principle. Which, in turn, creates a simple maxim. If you want to win lots of games, you need to win by big margins, …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Black Friday Observations

Rather than do highlights on this Black Friday edition of the Breakfast Special, we’re going to instead take a look at the things in the NBA that make the least sense, the “something weird is going to happen before Christmas” predictions that you can take to the bank. Why? Because I’m as turkeyed out as the rest of you lot; I took yesterday off, and who really wants to see highlights of two-day-old games? Let’s begin with… The Oklahoma City Thunder, A Third-Place Team With an Eighth-Place Record Oklahoma City is 8-9 through 17 games, and that just makes no …

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NBA Breakfast Special: Le Morte d’Arthur Memes

Man, the Cleveland Cavaliers just make no sense at all anymore, huh? One night they’re left for dead, the next LeBron James is back in 2007 and singlehandedly willing a G-League team toward the playoffs. But what really mattered in their come-from-23-points-behind win over the Knicks? Arthur memes, that’s what. How many Cavs players posted Arthur memes after they beat the Knicks? Not one, not two, not three… https://t.co/emzJglL4id — Sports Illustrated (@SInow) November 14, 2017 This is the first display of true team unity we’ve seen from Cleveland, and it all started when, early in the third quarter, Tyronn …

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