After outscoring the Raptors by thirteen in the first quarter because of ball movement, passable defense, and transition play, the Cavs abandoned most of those things for the next three quarters. This helped the Raptors claw their way to a two point lead by halftime and a seventeen point win at the end of 48 minutes. The Canadian guard were led by Lou Williams who insta-offensed himself to 36 points and lots of smiles from Dwane Casey. Let’s jump right into the game.
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Well that game sucked. Cleveland passed poorly, shot poorly, defended poorly, rebounded poorly, were poorly coached, and generally played selfish basketball. I’m sure I left some things out that the Cavs did poorly that game, but it’s hard to list them all. The game was not nearly as close as the 13 point deficit might indicate, either. Cleveland had a 13-8 lead about halfway through the first quarter, after a sequence where LeBron scored off a Kyrie fast break assist, and then Irving stole the inbound, missed a three, and LeBron cleaned up the trash. That was as good as it got for the Cavs for the rest of the game. Cavs made two stupid turnovers and Bradley Beal stole the ball twice and fed John Wall for two straight far too easy baskets to tie it up at 13. Washington never looked back after the first quarter.
Overview: After four hard-fought quarters, the Cavaliers fell short against the defending champion Spurs when LeBron James turned the ball over at half-court with Cleveland down by two and just seconds on the clock. Anderson Varejao led all scorers with 23 points on 16 shots, while James and Kevin Love combined for just 25 points on a combined 10-29 shooting night.
Monday night’s NBA game at Quicken Loans Arena featured a streaking home team fresh off a magical shooting display. The Cleveland Cavaliers were rounding into shape. The projected offensive juggernaut increased its scoring output in four consecutive games culminating in the complete annihilation of the Atlanta Hawks. Cleveland’s opponent was a disappointing team which had recently lost six in a row. The Denver Nuggets’ lone victory after opening day had come against an Indiana team featuring Donald Sloan. To say that this had the potential to be a “trap game” would have been a supreme understatement.
The Hawks are a good team. With a healthy Al Horford, a Spursian offense, and one of the best starting 5s in the East, this figured to be a tough challenge for the Cavaliers, who miraculously survived a much-less-talented Celtics squad last night. The Cavs made their first six threes but could seemingly do nothing to stop the Hawks’ dribble penetration. With three minutes left in the quarter the Cavs led just 24-21, despite converting 6/6 from downtown. LeBron was involved in everything. Then Coach Blatt sat LeBron down and I thought “this is gonna get ugly”. It did. For the Hawks. The Cavs went on a 41-8 run, threw a lead anvil on the gas pedal, and started setting all-time records.
Recap: Cleveland 122, Boston 121 (or “Once We Start Playing Defense, We’re Really Going to be Something.”)Saturday, November 15th, 2014
The title quote was by David Blatt after an amazing comeback win by the Cavs last night. Let’s get to it.
First Quarter: This one started out with Love on the left block on offense, and then devolved to a frenetically paced post-pattern drill, highlighted by numerous Kevin Love touchdown passes, including one over two Celtics that would have mad Brian Hoyer proud. LeBron caught it and two step flushed. A full court alley-oop dunk is coming before the end of the season. Unfortunately, Cleveland was giving up more than they got and by halfway through the quarter the Cavs were down by 17-11. A David Blatt timeout ensued.
That whole meme about LeBron’s lack of “explosiveness” seemed like a story from eons ago, as James looked like he was shot out of a canon every time he took off down the floor, and his pace matched the game’s. At one point in the first, a Celtics-Cavs-Celtics field goal sandwich took about 10 seconds as Brandon Bass scored, LeBron beat the camera down the floor to find TT for a layup, and then Rondo returned the favor to Kelly Olynyk. This whiplash inducing sequence prompted Austin Carr to prophetically comment that at this pace the game was going to be in the 120s.
After a lackluster two and a half quarters, the Cavs really poured it on the New Orleans Pelicans in the final 16 and a half minutes, outscoring them 49-33 and earning a quality win against an upstart young team. LeBron James had a monster game, tallying his first triple double of the season and 38th of his career: 32 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Kyrie Irving was his full blown offensive-wunderkind self, scoring 32 points despite playing the role of distributor for most of the 1st half. At times he was completely unstoppable. Kevin Love came alive in the 4th quarter, draining four 3-pointers, and finishing with 22 points on 13 shots. The Cavs survived a 32-point scare from Ryan Anderson (cloaked in NBA JAM Flames), who drained eight 3s.
The Cavs won. There will be no three game losing streak and no mass media panic about the state of the team. The King looked exactly like the best player in the game does. He did whatever he wanted the whole night. During the first quarter, he wanted to get guys easy shots, so he passed to get six assists. During the second quarter, he wanted to score a little bit. He played some iso ball, missed shots, and finally scored four in a row. During the third quarter, he wanted to keep the Cavs momentum going, so he made two layups. One of them utilized a spin move, which mesmerized the Nuggets so much they relaxed defensively. In the fourth quarter, Kevin Love was tired, so whenever it was possible LeBron switched onto Love’s man and defended anyone posting up. He then sealed the game with two layups at the end to make sure the Nuggets couldn’t win. The King finished the game with 22 points, 11 assists, and seven rebounds. He made sure the Cavs didn’t trail at all after going up by two points in the beginning of the first quarter. (more…)
Tonight was rough for anyone who has watched the Cavs the past two years. There were lots of sequences where one player just dribbled the ball for fifteen seconds while every other guy watched him thinking, “dang, he goes between the legs really smoothly.” There were lots of pick and rolls where the Wine & Gold trapped, made the second rotation to stop the roll man, and then forgot that usually there is an open shooter in the corner if his defender is in the paint. There were a few times when the Cavs said to themselves, “hey, Derrick Favors won’t rebound his team’s shot if we stand here with our arms down.”
The Cavs trailed almost the entire game. They were behind 13 at the half and down as much as 16 in the third before bringing it to within one before the fourth quarter. With 6:22 left in the fourth, the Cavs tied it. They then battled back and forth with the Jazz until LeBron James forced the refs to call a foul when he was shooting a three pointer with three seconds left in the game. The L-Train barreled into the sanctity of the game of basketball by using a pump fake before leaning into a mid-air Derrick Favors, but he still made all three shots to tie the game. The Jazz then called a timeout and Gordon Hayward screamed to the world “BALL DON’T LIE” as he sank the game winner with no time on the clock.
The Cavaliers traveled to Rip City for the first of a three game West Coast trip. Facing a Portland Trail Blazer team that relies heavily on their dominant starting lineup, the Cavs hoped to build on their overtime win against the Bulls. Instead, the Blazers offensive cohesion and strong play in the paint proved too much to handle. Early in the season, Cleveland will likely have trouble against teams with great continuity. After getting throttled by the Blazers at every position, the Cavaliers have nowhere to go but up.