In what many thought, this writer included, was going to be a buzzsaw start to the season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team is instead looking strong early into the season. Sources around the league felt that there was a good chance that due to Cleveland's youth and lack of experience, the Cavaliers would be winless until their November 12 contest against the Detroit Pistons. Those same sources also felt that, in turn, Cleveland head coach J.B. Bickerstaff would likely be one of the first coaches fired this season.
Instead, Bickerstaff has this young, scrappy Cavaliers squad playing extremely well heading into their Monday-night matchup against the Charlotte Hornets. Because of this, we're seeing real, tangible maturity forming for this team in real-time as well. Today, we'll talk about this as well as something Cleveland fans spent their time doing on Monday night when the team was in Denver.
Growing up in real-time under the emergence of Jarrett Allen
If you're a regular reader of Right Down Euclid, then you know that a glaring flaw of this Cleveland team is their overall youth and lack of experience. If you aren't a regular reader then welcome and please subscribe. But, so far, that youth and inexperience have not hamstrung the Cavaliers early into the season. Instead, this Cleveland squad is growing up in real-time when they continue to win in convincing fashion.
Heading into their Friday night tilt against the Los Angeles Lakers, the key members of the Cavaliers young core is scoring a combined 86.1 points per game. One of the key figures, and Cleveland's second-best scorer, is big man Jarrett Allen, who recently signed a five-year, $100 million extension with the Cavaliers. Despite being only 23 years old, Allen is considered a key veteran in Cleveland's locker room with four years of experience under his belt.
So, more than anything, Allen serves as a bridge between the team's key veterans as well as their young core. That's what makes him so key to the Cavaliers growing up over their opening stretch and winning key games against legitimate contenders.
“It’s hard to put in words, but Jarrett Allen has my full trust,” said head coach J.B. Bickerstaff. “He has my full trust that what we’re doing as a team is more important than anything that could happen for him individually. And that comes from time spent last year, a lot of conversations, a lot of time over the summer. But he’s just made that way. He has accepted every challenge without asking for anything. He never has once come to me and been like, ‘Hey J.B. I need the ball more,’ or ‘J.B., I need you to run this play for me’ or anything like that.
“The only thing that Jarrett does is go out and try to help his team win – whatever that looks like.”
Leadership can manifest itself in so many different ways. Kevin Love and Ed Davis are expected to help work with Cleveland's big men while Ricky Rubio is expected to work exclusively with Darius Garland. Yet every Cavalier rallies around the relatively quiet Allen and leans on him, and his leadership, to guide them. They've embraced Allen's aura as an underdog and scrap and claw their way to victory on a night-to-night basis. He makes his teammates better and they're looking less green and more seasoned every time they take the hardwood.
Cleveland Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has his team off to one of the hottest starts in the NBA.
Give head coach J.B. Bickerstaff his flowers
As mentioned before, many around the league thought that Cleveland would be winless until mid-November and one of the worst teams in the league. That means it was fairly safe to assume that Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff would be on the hot seat and likely the first head coach to be fired this season. Instead, Bickerstaff has his team playing well and winning in fairly convincing fashion.
So much so that one league sources believe that he could be primed to win Coach of the Year if this Cleveland squad continues their early success.
"This team had a lot of doubters heading into this season, us included," said one Eastern Conference executive. "Before this season started we more or less had Cleveland penciled in as an easy win and an opportunity to rest our veterans. But, instead, they've come out hot this season and a lot of credit goes to J.B. and how he's coaching them. If this is real and they make the playoffs, he should be a lock for Coach of the Year."
It's not just how well the Cavaliers are performing under Bickerstaff but how they're winning as well. On a night-to-night basis, Bickerstaff and his team have hung with the likes of Atlanta's Nate McMillan, Denver's Mike Malone, Clippers head coach Tyronn Lue, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel and Phoenix's Monty Williams.
All of those aforementioned coaches are all coaching legitimate title threats this season and were out-coached by Bickerstaff. That speaks volumes to how well Bickerstaff has this young Cleveland squad performing as he shows his tactical ability on a night-to-night basis. Instead of calling for his termination, folks should be giving Bickerstaff his flowers for how well he has this team playing.
Every time the Cleveland Cavaliers take on the Denver Nuggets, fans try to match every point scored by Denver by eating a McDonald's Chicken McNugget.
Cavaliers fans vs. the Denver McNuggets
There's a weird, fun tradition for Cavaliers fans whenever the team takes on the Denver Nuggets. For the uninitiated, Cleveland Twitter user @WayneEmbrysKids is largely credited with starting the #MeVsNuggets challenge in 2011. The challenge is based on a simple premise: Cavs fans attempt to eat at least one McDonald's Chicken McNugget for each point the Denver Nuggets score during a game against Cleveland. For example, if Denver scored 96 points, fans would have to consume at least 97 McNuggets to win.
So, with that said, the Nuggets ended up scoring 87 points against the Cavaliers which means fans had to eat at least 88 Chicken McNuggets in order to win. Due to the game being on a Monday night, not many were able to properly prepare nor did they have the intestinal fortitude to hang with Denver. But, thankfully Cavaliers fans Joe Galati had the gumption to join in on Cleveland beating up on Denver more than one time this week.
"I'm a college student at the University of Dayton so it wasn't easy getting up for my 8 a.m.," said Galati. "My roommates and I have done it every single year, it's a great tradition.
"I was able to eat every single nugget. Thank God they only scored 87 points."
Daniel Daugherty, a fellow Cleveland fan, tried to follow in Galati's footsteps but could not beat Denver nor the McNuggets. In the end, Daugherty was only able to eat 61 McNuggets and used a mix of honey mustard, ranch and ketchup to help chow down on the bells, bones, boots and balls. Galati did share that barbecue sauce was key for him so perhaps that was Daugherty's undoing. But, despite coming up short Daugherty was thankful to take part in the event.
"I wanted to do it because I thought it was a unique idea and is a cool way of bringing a community together," said Daugherty. "The last two years I've wanted to do it and the games just always snuck up on me so I was finally prepared for this one."
Win or lose, there is something that can somehow, someway bring Cavaliers fans together. Cleveland doesn't play Denver until mid-March next year so hopefully even more fans can chow down while the wine and golders take home another victory.
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