Three times last night the Cavs had the ball with a 2 pt lead in the last 2 minutes of the 4th quarter. Losing time for the Cavs. Time after time this season we’ve seen key moments like this combust into flames and lead turn to losses. Luckily for the sellout crowd down at the Q the Cavs were able to capitalize on all three and keep the New York Sportscenters at arm’s length. Antawn Jamison had a nice stretch around the 4:00 mark also where he scored 7 straight Cavs’ points and drove Carmelo Anthony crazy at that.
Looking back on the win now, the most comfort comes from knowing that the games biggest 3 buckets came from young Cavs who are going to be a part of the future. First, after Boobies unbelievable drawing of rim from 40-plus, Ramon Sessions got 2 to boost the lead from 2 to 4 with 1:23 remaining. At the beginning of the season, and the 1st 10 game losing streak, I thought Ramon played losing basketball. Weak D. Untimely shot selection. Turnovers. The last month or so I’ve 180′d.
Ramon Sessions is quielty becoming a pretty solid young PG. Obviously his J has miles to go but he is incredibly hard to keep out of the lane and has found his way a bit making plays for his teammates. Over the month of February Ramon has averaged 19.9 pts, 8.7 assts, and 1.9 stls. To put that in perspective, John Wall is at 16.5, 8, and 1.2. All Star Russell Westbrook, 19.2, 8, and 1. And all-world PG Chris Paul? 15.8, 10.3 and 1.9.
Nobody needs to tell me that Ramon isn’t in that category. I know. Point is though, that he’s been handed the ball full-time and in that timeframe he’s responded by producing like one of the best. Byron Scott has done a wonderful job developing him and I hope that will remain a focus once the Beard gets here.
2nd bucket was by the enigmatic JJ. With under a minute left JJ followed himself up and laid one in to again push the lead back out to 4 with 56 seconds left I love this kid. He gives me hope. He’s also inconsistent enough to keep us with a lot of ping pong balls and that helps too. But Byron’s wearing on him. I’m glad Baron’s stoked about watching him become a beast because it might be happening right now. It may have already started. After a very mediocre and uneven start to the season he’s given up his young rebellion and decided to attack always and get after it on the glass.
In the calendar year 2011 JJ’s averaging 11 rebs a night, and he’s at 18 pts a night in February including his laugher the other night vs Houston. Over this period he’s collected 14 double doubles. All impressive but not the best part. He’s at his best when he plays the best lately. Over our last 5 games JJ had a chance to lace it up against Blake Griffin, Pau Gasol, and Amare.
Against Griffin he went for 27, 14, and 4 blocks. He manned up on Blake during crunch time (with 5 fouls) and had a crowd pleasing swat against him and turned him away scoreless on a few other possessions as well late. Then he held his own vs Pau and the Lakers frontline with 13, 15 and a block in another win. Last night vs Amare, NBA’s consensus best PF, he had 24, 15 and a career high 5 blks. With 3 of them I believe guarding Amare one on one. Apparently the Chuck Hayes’ of the world just aren’t enough to get the young bull’s attention. JJ is coming along. He has all-star talent and it looks like his mentality is beginning to catch up.
Screen grab via @WFNYCraig
Boobie then hit his 3 that made the Q erupt. Even Gator Boy Joe Haden was up and pumped. Boobie had a rough shooting night to start but it was good to see him hit the icer. He’s had his ups and downs this year and the injuries have been nagging but he’s always had a knack for hitting big shots. He loves taking those threes at moments of the game when the crowds on its feet as soon as its released. Boobie has to continue to develop his game to become a complete player but a lights out shooter with his athleticism should be a part of the rebuilding process.
With Ramon at 24, JJ 22, and Boobie at 24 these are the types of players that the Cavs have to focus on now more than ever. They’ve each logged a decent amount of minutes in the NBA and are young enough to still have their primes in front of them. What these 3 players primes look like and what the Cavs are able to obtain in the lottery this summer will have everything to do with how much longer we have to root to lose. Nice win Cavs but keep your eye on the prize.