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I have come to a realization with this 2015-2016 Cavs team, after watching so many of their games this season. They’re a pick-up team, the kind you’ll find at any gym or public park on any given Saturday afternoon. They don’t play like a professional basketball team on the biggest stage in the world. They play like a bunch of dudes I hoop with at the park. This was never more apparent than their first 2016 playoff game against Detroit.
But first, the beer! I watched Cleveland almost choke in Cleveland fashion with the latest “Enjoy By” release from Stone. “Enjoy By 4.20.16” looks thin and watery in the glass, offering very little head or clinginess. But don’t let looks deceive you! It’s a dynamic DIPA, filled with numerous flavors that dance about the tongue. In addition to the usual notes of pine and citrus typical of a west coast IPA, a strange streak of peanut butter also ran through it, leaving me pondering what, exactly, I was tasting. It might sound weird, but it’s that kind of uniqueness that makes a beer stand out from the crowd. If you like big IPA’s that offer something new off the old block, pick up this Stone staple before it goes away forever.
As for the game, I never really feared Cleveland would lose – they’re just too talented – but I was frustrated watching them flummox about for the first three quarters. This is a team content to treat NBA games like pick-up in the park, until they are down by five or more points, then they turn professional. Think about it…
LeBron is the all-around best player on the court, but since he knows he’s the best player there, he runs his mouth and tells everyone what to do… Kyrie is the over-dribbler… Love is the guy who is not sure what to do, so he just posts up or hangs at the three-point line… JR is the guy who just jacks up a shot as soon as the ball hits his hands… Delly is the pesky white guy who plays good defense, so he managers to hang… TT is the guy who only feels comfortable rebounding, and nothing else… and Mozgov is the big, tall dude who only gets to play because he is big and tall.
They are a pick-up team. Every one of their offensive sets – until the fourth quarter – was ISO, basic pick-and-rolls, and jacking three’s. Looking for the beautiful game of the 2014 Spurs or the variety and creative scoring of this year’s Warriors? You won’t find it here! Until they’re down and figure – oh, maybe we should play organized. And whenever they do that, they are almost unstoppable! Some of their ball movement can be amazing, but since they play for themselves and not for the team, it only appears in rare instances, like Terrance Malick in a photograph.
Detroit played real basketball, and that is why they hung in there until near the end. Cleveland’s talent just took over. But I predict a pretty good series here, with the Pistons maybe even stealing a game or two. You know, one or two, which is the amount of organized offense you’ll see in any given Cavs game.