The Cavaliers connected on 12% of the 24 three pointers they heaved up as a team on Sunday. They also turned it over 10 more times (24) than the Portland Trailblazers did (14) last night too. They played some inspired post defense for about a half, but LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace did still eventually combine for totals of 44 points, 14 rebounds, and 8 assists between. Those two also went one / two for the Blazers in the plus / minus category as well (+24, +21 respectively) despite the Cavs collectively focused effort on slowing them down early.
Wes Matthews launched in 24 points of his own as well, the Blazers finished with four players in double figures, didn’t play all that great as a team, but used a 12-0 run to open the 3rd quarter and beat the Cavaliers by 20. In response, Byron Scott went to the face palm, which always kinda makes things hurt a little less badly in situations like last night.
At times though, Kyrie Irving looked pretty filthy. Or savvy, or poised, or as Fred declared a “magician with the basketball”, or mature well past his NBA age of now eight games, or whatever word you want to use to say he played basketball pretty well last night. Ray Felton is an above average NBA point guard, even though he’s carrying a few extra lockout-pounds these days, but Kyrie looked simply better than Felton all night long.
Irving finished multiple times at the rim on his way to a team high 21 points on 9 of 17 shooting, and that feed to Varejao after he lost Felton on that crossover was nasty (Irving also had 4 assists and 4 rebounds). That was a real, old school, John Stockton-type point guard pass right there, and it certainly looks like Kyrie and Andy are developing a little chemistry at this point as well. That lob pass to Tristan Thompson up at the rim represented the future though, a theoretically spectacular one at that. They weren’t on the floor together long, the two rookies, but it was long enough for at least that one highlight to help drown out the 20-point beat down.
Tristan Thompson did look shaky a couple times with the ball under the basket, but two other times he did score out of a post move for two of his four baskets on the night. He went for 10 points on the game, and was a huge reason why the Cavaliers were in it during the first half. He blocked a game high 3 shots and scored 8 points in the first half, but what I like most about Tristan is how he never stops moving. After one of those shaky post moves in the first half, instead of complaining, calling for a foul that wasn’t there, or hanging his head, he raced back down the floor to defend, then blocked a shot, and eventually helped the Cavs get the ball back. He’s not a guy who’s game is designed to score a ton of points, he’s just going to try and help you win a ton of different ways. Like he tried to do on Sunday in only 17 minutes of work.
Here’s a few more thoughts I had on Sunday’s game prior to closing the book here and getting ready for Utah Jazz on Tuesday…
The Cavaliers should’ve never won anyways: Enjoy that first half on Sunday for what it was. In the same arena where the Cavaliers laid down and lost a game by 648 points last season, these Cavs came out fired up thinking they had a shot to win. That’s good, even though they probably didn’t. It’s also good they were able to hang in there and play like they did have a chance to win for as long as they did too, prior to going in down seven at the break. They lost by 20, but at least they weren’t down by 20 all night, I guess is what I’m trying to say.
Omri Casspi will find his shot: I know Casspi went 0-5 from three point range but I think those last couple times he got to see the ball go through the hoop towards the end of Sunday’s game are going to help his confidence heading into this Utah game on Tuesday. He finished with 10 points, along with Tristan (10) and Kyrie (21) as the only Cavaliers in double figures on the night, and I’m just here to say that I am still a believer in Casspi as the starting SF on this team this season. He does need to attack the basket more though, and once he does that his three pointer will start falling for him from there. Getting out on the break for finishes like his first basket on Sunday would really help too.
Antawn may believe he can be fined for not shooting: To Jamison’s credit, he led the team in rebounding on Sunday (11) despite not being able to throw it in the Pacific Ocean. He finished the game 1-8 on the night for 3 points. He led the team on the minus side of the + / – with a (-22) while he was out there, and I am just amazed at his continued propensity to shoot literally anything so far this season once he catches the basketball. One handers, off balance, falling forward, he’ll fire that thing up. Falling out of bounds, double teamed, right off the catch anywhere on the floor, he’s bombs away on that too. He’s shot the basketball a team high 123 times this season, 20 more times than Kyrie Irving, for a total of 8 more points than Kyrie. Jamison has also shot 54, 61, and 68 more times than the Cavs who rank third, fourth, and fifth in field goal attempts as well behind Irving at two (Ramon Sessions, Anderson Varejao, Daniel Gibson). He’s shot 72 more times than Tristan, and 73 more times than Casspi.
Harangody’s Points Per 48 Minutes Took a Hit on Sunday: Luke Harangody is now averaging 43 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 assists per 48 minutes after his 2 point, 3 rebound, 1 assist effort on Sunday in Portland. While these numbers are impressive, and could help Luke win the NBA MVP if he got full game type minutes going forward, they also are a huge dip from the 122 points per 48 minutes he was previously averaging prior to his number being called yesterday.
Utah Jazz up next on Tuesday night at 9 pm ET: The Jazz have won four in a row, and former Butler product Gordon Hayward just went for 18 in their last one. He’s averaging 9 points per game for the 5-3 Utah squad this season, and Al Jefferson is leading the way for them with 18. They also have Derrick Favors scoring 9 per game, Paul Millsap scoring 12, and they’ll be a tough test for the Cavaliers on Tuesday once again. More on that tomorrow.