Fifty-four games from now, if the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in the playoffs because Kyrie Irving keeps playing like this all season I have zero problems with that. Zero. I’m just throwing that out there now not so much because I want to engage in any type of post-season conversation at this point, but more to simply point out that what we’re seeing right now from Kyrie and his Cavaliers squad is so completely all good that we just need to enjoy this ride wherever it goes.
During these last seven games on the road, the 19-year old point guard spearheaded a survival mode effort that saw him average 19.8 points, 5.0 assists, and 2.7 rebounds per game. He set new season highs on this young season for points twice on this 3-4 trip, scoring 21 at Portland and 26 at Phoenix, and was one basket away on Monday from doing that a third time as well (KI: 25 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds at Charlotte). More important than all that though, on multiple occasions he also embraced the big moment and took that pivotal shot while attacking the basket. The Rookie of the Year is currently a one-person race, and he’s not only met but also exceeded all expectations of what the number one pick should play like thus far this season. He is simply good, really good, use whatever collection of terms you want to make that point, they all work.
As a team the Cavs seem to be feeding off the kid’s energy too. The Cavaliers came out of the locker room after a terrible second quarter and responded big time. They went from 9 points up in the second session to 11 points down because the Bobcats shot it real well and the Cavaliers reserves played no defense at all. They lost the second quarter by 18 points, BUT, whatever Byron Scott said at halftime worked. The Cavaliers came out aggressive on both ends in the 3rd quarter as a result of all that, won that period by 13, and went on to close the thing out looking like a pretty veteran squad down the stretch.
For perspective, the Bobcats do stink though (3-11). Although according to Las Vegas the Cavaliers were supposed to lose by two points on the road in what was the seventh time they did so in as many games. So look at this win specifically however you want. The fact still remains that the Cavaliers did win though, and their now 6-6 on the season. Antawn Jamison shot over fifty percent to finish with 20 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 (!!!) assists, so good job Tawn. Good job Andy too who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds in another beast-ish performance from the Brazilian Big Man.
Omri Casspi Is Finding Comfort Zone: Despite not being put back into the game during the 4th quarter until about 2 minutes were left, with the Cavaliers trailing by one, Omri Casspi still had his best game of the season overall. He finished with 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists in 25 minutes on 4 of 8 shooting from the field, and was a gigantic reason why the Cavaliers climbed back into the game during the 3rd Quarter. I think it took Casspi a little time to get used to this new system this season, but he looks to have kinda figured things out here lately. In his last 46 minutes of game action (Monday at Charlotte, Friday at LAL) Casspi has a stat line that reads 25 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, and only 1 turnover on 8 of 17 shooting from the floor. His attack of the rim recently has jump-started his game here too I think, and I expect him to only look more and more comfortable in these next few games moving forward.
Cavs Survive The Road-Trip: I mentioned before this road trip started that it would be a success if they found a way to go 3-4, and make it back home for their game Tuesday with Golden State knotted up at 6 wins and 6 losses on the season through 12. At 3-11 it would’ve be pretty depressing, but they’ve done just that and anything is currently possible here at the moment [Not Kevin Garnett Voice]. If the Cavs can find a way to at least keep splitting this next handful of games to close out the month of January, it could become pretty interesting in the month of February. You know, that same month of February where the Cavs are set to play 10 of 13 games at home including a stretch of 9 straight from February 8th to the 28th. In step with that pattern, Tuesday’s game against Golden State and they’re very annoying announcer turned Head Coach is winnable – Warriors are 4-8 under Mark Jackson. The next one after that on Friday against D-Rose and company is probably not winnable. One game at a time though.