CHRIS GRANTLAND: LOVE REKINDLED

"Now you guys love us again right?" – Tristan Thompson, postgame.

 

Oh, you said the season’s over?  These games don’t mean anything?  Nobody told  Tristan Thompson, who once again turned into a fucking wrecking ball.  Crashing boards, exploding defenders, demanding respect with energy that bled out onto the court in buckets, winning a second game in a row and driving the highest sections of the Quicken Loans Arena, where there is no talk of “tanking”, into complete and utter madness.   It is not over.  There is still work left to do.

While All Star Kyrie Irving, rookie Dion Waiters, veteran Anderson Varejao and even rookie Tyler Zeller have all missed games this year due to injuries, some of real significance, Thompson has not missed a game through 76 and has spent that time working in the laboratory of the painted area transforming himself into a monster that punishes defenses.

Another 15 points another 16 rebounds, including 8 of the hard fought clawing aggressive offensive kind.  Tristan Thompson elevated the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 91-85 win over the Orlando Magic.  And while these were not the 2009 HgH-aided Orlando Magic, it was another NBA win, and a sign of tangible progress in a season of high highs and some of the lowest of lows.  

There is this from last night: Kyrie Irving has now made only 12 of his last 51 shot attempts.  Omri Casspi and Kevin Jones are somehow rotation players again.  CJ Miles who, after a breathtakingly horrible first month, has been a bargain as a valuable bench player, had his face caved in by Orlando Magician Nikola Vicevic early in this game.  Vucevic, who spent most of the game dominating Tyler Zeller in the paint, went full on Wilt Chaimberlain for 21 points and 21 rebounds.   A coaching decision was made by the Cavaliers so that Vucevic, who was dominating, never faced a double team.  The Cavaliers transition offense was a complete clusterfuck of disorganization that portended a preseason scrimmage more than Game 76. 

But Shaun Livingston’s career is in full on Lazarus mode.   It was Livingston's driving and shooting that keyed a scoring run that overcame a six point third quarter Orlando lead in this game that led to the win.  Wayne Ellington is a credible backup shooting guard and made critical shots.  There can be a place on this team for the buttery shooting of big man Maureese Speights.   There are signs of a something finally forming.

And less than a week removed from the horror of horrors against the Nets and losing streak that there is a message from the new leader and spinal column of the new Cavaliers, Mr. Thompson:

There are six games left in this Cleveland Cavaliers season.  They can be what we want them to be.   Shitcan the lottery talk for those six games.   These games, soak them in now; there’s a long ass summer between now and next season.

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