Score: Cavs 114, Thunder 104
Games Out: 4
What We Learned In Win Over Thunder: Cavs Are Still Fighting
This was obviously the Cavaliers best win of the season. Without three of their top-8 players, on the second night of a back-to-back, against the best team in the Western Conference at their place, the Cavaliers willed themselves to a 10-point victory. So don’t feel bad about the champagne you sprayed all over your couch last night, Cavs fans. You deserved this one, 42-point fourth quarters don't happen everyday.
What may have been glossed over during the losses that directly followed the six-games of blissful domination is that the Cavs have been playing consistently hard for about three weeks now. Right, I know, they’re supposed to be playing hard. I understand. But when you’re in the NBA world, sitting in the lottery again this late in the season—following the dismissal of your GM with speculation surrounding the future of your head coach—there are more than a couple reasons to shut it down. But the Cavaliers haven’t done that. And they just beat Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka at their place. So maybe they aren’t done yet?
Kyrie Irving averaging 44 minutes in last two games
After logging 45 minutes against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday, Kyrie Irving followed that up by playing 43 more minutes on Wednesday in OKC. He was as focused as I can remember him all season, too, for all 43 of those minutes. Irving finished with 31 points and nine assists while connecting on four of his seven attempts from three-point range. He also knocked down all seven of this free-throws (the Cavs shot 23-24 from the stripe as a team btw). In short, he looked like a superstar who led his team to a victory over one of the two biggest superstars in League.
Hawes does add another dynamic offensively
My appreciation for what Spencer Hawes can bring the Cavaliers has been admittedly muted based on the fact that I don’t think he’ll return next season and he’s taking minutes from Anthony Bennett. In saying as much, though, I do have to admit that the big man does add another dimension to the Cavaliers attack offensively. The ball seems to keep moving in the half-court more often when Hawes is out there, and the spacing he creates with his ability to knock down shots from the perimeter is a big reason why. He’s also been active on the glass, grabbing three offensive rebounds to go along with his 18 points and seven boards overall last night, in addition to knocking down 3-of-6 from distance.
Jarrett Jack’s Game-High +11
To say that Jarrett Jack has been embattled this season is an understatement. He’s had a rough go of it. The expectations were high when he signed this summer and Jack’s struggled to live up to what most Cavs fans thought he would bring. But on Wednesday night in Oklahoma City, Jack was a primary reason why the Cavaliers won. While playing 39 minutes, he finished with a game-high +11. He also knocked down three of his attempts from three-point range while finishing with 21 points and four assists. So hats off, Jarrett Jack.