Game Two: When Things Felt Infinitely Better As Cavs Win By Sixteen

Cleveland Cavaliers' Tristan Thompson (13) dunks against the Toronto Raptors in the second quarter in an NBA basketball game Monday, Dec. 26, 2011, in Cleveland.I was having a tough time after opening night. I had just spent a good portion of the offseason talking about how I thought Samardo Samuels was going to make an big impact this season he and didn’t even get into the game. Skyenga sat destined for the D-League, Kyrie Irving didn’t light the world on fire automatically in his first real game since his eleventh one at Duke, Ryan Hollins was out there being horrible, Antawn Jamison was building a home for retired power forwards with the 14 bricks he hoisted up, Omri Casspi never really got into a rhythm, and the Cavaliers ended up being handled by the bottom feeding Raptors.  I wasn’t sure what to expect moving forward.

Then Kyrie Irving came in on Wednesday night looking like the weight of a hometown crowd who expected him to be a Hall of Fame player by the time he could buy a beer legally was off his shoulders, playing in front of the apathetic Palace of the Pistons. He attacked the basket and finished. He zipped passes into a posted up Anderson Varejao that looked like they left the hands of a young John Stockton. His confidence appeared to grow with every bounce of the basketball. He took nine shots to finish with 14 points in only 19 minutes. He grabbed 4 rebounds, snagged 2 steals, and dished out 7 assists. Again. He looked like what I believe he is, a True Point Guard who will one day soon be considered elite.

It wasn’t just Irving, however, it was a great night by all who draped themselves in the Wine and Gold of your Cleveland Cavaliers. Tristan Thompson electrically leapt his way to 2 blocked shots, grabbed 4 rebounds, scored 10 points, and effected the game on both ends of the floor during his 24 minutes of work. If you think I’m simply lobbing it out there cliche’ style in saying he effected the game on both ends of the floor, I’m not. He lead the team in the statistical category that measures such things in fact, finishing with a plus / minus of +18. The next closest Cavaliers players to Thompson in that category were Alonzo Gee and Ramon Sessions, both finishing at +12.

Getting back to Ramon Sessions’ night, he is still after two games the team MVP so far in my humble opinion.  Sure, 64 more games to go, plenty of time for things to change, but this guy looks real good so far. What’s amazing is he never used to be able to shoot 3-pointers, but now it appears he can. In the last TWO seasons he is a COMBINED 4 for 30 shooting three pointers. In other words, in the last 163 games that Ramon Sessions has played he made 4 three point baskets. Tonight he went 2 for 4 from three, and this is after going 2 for 4 against Toronto on Friday. So he’s made as many so far this season in two games as he has all of the last two seasons combined.  

More than just Ramon Sessions’ newly found three point game though, he also appears to be developing into a very solid floor general. In addition to making Tristan Thompson better, he also essentially lead the Cavaliers second unit to securing the win on Wednesday night too.  Sessions finished with 6 assists and 7 rebounds to go along with his 16 points, and he helped the Cavaliers bench score 56 points. The Pistons bench scored 25. If Brandon Knight didn’t come off the bench to get 23 they would’ve only had two.

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Samardo Samuels (24) prepares to shoot during the first quarter of a preseason NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons at the Palace in Auburn Hills, Mich. , Friday, Dec. 16, 2011.No Cleveland Cavaliers player scored more points than Samardo Samuels however. Samardo came off the bench just like I expected he would, in complete and total beast mode. After catching a DNP-CD on Monday, which Byron Scott said prior to tip-off Wednesday had to do with Samardo not being in playing shape, he erupted to lead the Cavaliers in scoring with 17 points. He dunked on Tayshaun Prince’s head once, had multiple 3-point plays around the rim, finished with 10 points in the paint, mixed in a couple 17-foot jumpers, and played with an enthusiasm and energy that helped fuel that second unit to a 34 point advantage over Detroit’s reserves.

I was critical of Byron Scott’s decision to play Ryan Hollins in game one, so I’ll applaud him in game two for not doing so again. Not that he cares or even knows if I criticize and / or applaud him though. Regardless, it was also a good decision by Coach Scott to keep pressing that second unit forward down the stretch too. The starters looked good while they were out there, Omri Casspi finished 3 of 5 for 7 points and 4 rebounds in only 19 minutes, and even Antawn Jamison played solid with 15 points on only 9 shots too, but the momentum belonged with the Cavs second unit tonight.  Good to see them will this thing home, and good to be back to .500.  

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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