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What we learned from Cavs 171-169 marathon win over Sixers

Cavs fans have been challenged to process an overwhelming amount of new information since Sunday.

Kyrie Irving is now out of the lineup. Tristan Thompson is wearing a mask. The first trip to Philadelphia for Dion Waiters is over. CJ Miles is back up off Byron's bench while Daniel Gibson is now injured and on it.  

And Jeremy Pargo happened, too.

After losing 86-79 in Philly on Sunday, the Cavaliers rallied on Wednesday night to an improbable 92-83 victory. In the process, they won the two-game series by a basket.

Heading into the Orlando Magic game on Friday, here's what we've just learned: 

Cavs are going to keep being really cautious with Kyrie Irving injuries

Not that we learned this for the first time specifically, but it is important to remind ourselves of this dynamic for some perspective. Kyrie Irving isn't "injury-prone" just because he's been out these last couple years with a series of "injuries". 

I think he could and would play with this latest set-back if the Cavaliers organization would let him. 

He played the second half of the Dallas game on Saturday with this same injury and then all of Sunday's game in Philadelphia.

If the Cavs were truly competing for a playoff spot, say it's next year or something, I think Irving maybe tapes an injury like he has now up Kobe-style and plays. Or maybe, more directly, when the Cavs said they would re-evaluate his status in two weeks (from Tuesday) they will do so and determine he won't actually be out for a full month.

Tristan and Tyler don't play as well with masks on

The good thing is they both look like Jason Vorhees to an extent and that certainly helps from an intimidation standpoint.

Offensively, though, neither guy is playing as well with that huge plastic thing smothering their face as they did this season without it. 

Tyler Zeller is averaging 3.6 points, five rebounds and one assist in 25 minutes over three masked games. This after a 15 point, seven rebound effort in Los Angeles against the Clippers before suffering the face injury.

Tristan Thompson, making his masked debut on Wednesday, finished with only four points on 1-7 shooting. Despite not being able to see the hoop too well through the fogged-up, sweaty mask, he did grab 11 rebounds.

Over the previous six games, sans mask, Thompson had been in double figures every night averaging 11.5 points per game.

It's probably good the hometown debut is out of the way for Dion Waiters

On Sunday, Waiters did not attack the basket enough and settled for way too many jump shots. Dion finished 1-6 from three, 2-13 overall from the floor, netting five points in total. A performance we're going to go ahead and attribute to nerves.

Everyone played bad that game anyway, not just D.Waiters. 

His first half on Wednesday wasn't much better. But he did rally in the second to hit a few monster shots that helped win the game. Dion finished 7-22 for 16 points, but to go along with that, he also dropped his NBA-best six assists with Irving sidelined.

Expect to see an extended look at Dion's play making ability with Kyrie out over the next few games at least.

CJ Miles steps into Daniel Gibson's bench role and breaks through

On Saturday night against Dallas, I thought Daniel Gibson might emerge as the second unit's scoring leader maybe for the duration of this season. Even after only taking one shot against Brooklyn and not scoring, Booby was averaging 12.6 points over his last five games heading into the Sixers game on Sunday.  

But then he didn't play due to injury.

Miles didn't play against Dallas due to the staples Byron Scott used to secure him to the bench. With Gibson out on Sunday, though, CJ did get back into the mix and continued to shoot poorly (1-7, 3 points).

But last night was different; Miles might've had that breakthrough game he desperately needed going for 13 points and 3 rebounds on 5-9 shooting.

So maybe he can lead that bench if Gibson isn't healthy enough to do so. Or, maybe, both of those guys could actually play well at the same time.

PARGO!?!?!?

I wasn't even sure Jeremy Pargo was better than Donald Sloan. If I'm being honest with everybody, I'm still not. But I suppose I should be after what Pargo went and did last night starting in place of Kyrie Irving. 

He was like Lester Hudson and Jeremy Lin all rolled into one sick player.

Jeremy had previously scored eight points in 24 minutes all season heading into Wednesday's game against the Sixers. On Wednesday he played 39 minutes and scored 28 on 11-19 shooting.

He had the type of game that fringe-NBA players leave D-League gyms every night dreaming to one day have when it matters most.

So congrats on all that, Pargo. Keep it going, son.

Image: Cavs.com

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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