There are so many reasons why the Cavs win over the Clippers last night has me leaping out of bed this morning. Dion Waiters was Dion “Freaking” Waiters for the first time in his Cavaliers’ career. He had that swag we’d been hearing about all summer turned way up for his first performance in Hollywood as he hit one mammoth three pointer after another. When he leapt to meet Kyrie Irving mid-air, late in last night’s game, I believe I may have seen the Cavaliers future flash before my eyes. And it was magnificent.
That future inclues an “exciting young backcourt” evolving into the “nastiest backcourt tandem” in the NBA. That’s what I’m feeling like this morning at least. What I saw last night was everything I had hoped for coming into this year.
The 28 points he scored weren’t really that important. Dion played like a guy that Meek Mill would be proud to shout-out in a song for the remainder of his Maybach Music Group contract. He hit those big shots while playing opposite guys like Chris Paul and Caron Butler. He wasn’t scared of the moment, he looked like he belonged on stages like that, and he was spectacular.
Even more so, while watching Kyrie Irving play alongside him. I’ve said that Kyrie Irving is a top-5 point guard in the NBA right now. He is certainly that. But the way Irving approached last night’s game, in that matchup with Paul, tells me that he’s not satisfied being “amongst the NBA’s best point guards”. That kid is a killer and he could very well be the NBA’s best all around point guard by season’s end.
The dribble drive he made early to feed Tyler Zeller on that lob in the first half was maybe my favorite assist of Irving’s career. That play set Zeller on his way to his best performance in the NBA to date and was only one of about six crazy highlights that Irving turned in on the night.
The knock on Kyrie coming into this season, from people who felt like he deserved a knock, is that he needed to do more as a facilitator. He finished with 10 assists last night to go along with 23 points. But more than those numbers was the way that he led from start to finish. More than any other player on the court last night, for either team, Irving expected to win that game. He expected to go out and beat Chris Paul and he did specifically that. It was incredible, and very likely that Uncle Drew suffered at least a mild heart attack while watching from home.
Tyler Zeller, meanwhile, looked like the player I expected to see this season since Vegas Summer League. He helped the Cavaliers bench score 32 points, something I literally thought was impossible on Sunday morning. He finsihed with 15 points and 7 rebounds on 60 percent shooting. He took a shot to his head late, hope he’s okay, but he probably is because Tyler Zeller is way tougher than anybody thinks he is.
I need to take a step away from this blog right now because I’m really excited about what I watched last night. More excited than I thought I’d be this early in the season. I haven’t even been able to catch my breathe to discuss Anderson “The All-Star” Varejao and his 15 point, 15 rebound double / double yet. Later today, I hope to be able to compose myself to do that. I’ll also follow back up on the 10-point performance my guy CJ Miles turned in when I do.
Kudos to Byron Scott for benching Luke Walton. Congrats to the Cavaliers bench for coming alive. Thanks, Kyrie Irving, for appearing like an All-NBA player this season. The Washington Wizards are a bad team. The Bucks were decent. The Clippers are legitimately good from top to bottom. I thought their bench would outscore the Cavaliers reserves by 68 points on Monday afternoon. I was wrong, along with the Vegas handicappers who had the Cavaliers as 11-point dogs.
Oh, and congratulations to you too if you stayed up late to watch that whole thing. Great life decision out of you.