The Cavs hosted the Philadelphia 76ers, who are not yet mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.
The Cavs started strong before a 5 minute stretch of going through the motions that allowed Philadelphia to take the lead. Byron Scott called timeout and according to Allie Clifton he told his squad to play with more aggression. They responded very well and outscored the 76ers 9-2 following the timeout. They pushed the tempo off misses and showed nice patience and unselfishness getting Tyler Zeller an easy bucket before C.J. Miles blew right by his defender for an uncontested layup, and then Boobie Gibson neener neener’d Jeremy Pargo’s long contested 2 with a contested 3. Anything he can do to get his “shoot it! Boobie” swagger back I’m OK with. At the end of 1, the Cavs led 24-19.
C.J. Miles can really fill it up. From anywhere. And he’s a very smooth character. When he decides to drive towards the hoop he glides like a figure skater and has the touch to drop in floaters. He started the quarter off with a 3J and then slid right across the lane and dropped in a 10 foot floater. He followed that up with a steal and delivered a no-look pass to Luke Walton, alone under the hoop (cherry picking?) for the uncontested dunk. Given the length of his career and the prolific nature of his offense, I still have trouble believing he’s never had a game where someone was just hanging out wide open for an uncontested dunk more than 5 times. C.J.’s first miss was hit tap-danced on the rim for about 4 seconds before squirting out. But when the hoop closes a C.J., it opens a Livingston. Shaun dropped in 3 straight buckets forcing the 76ers to call a timeout to slow down the onslaught. It was a good timeout, as it turned out. The 76ers rattled off a 11-2 run. I’m not sure if the message in the Cavalier huddle was: “Tristan, get angry!” But the big man started forcing around the hoop and finished the half getting blocked twice, missing twice, and then missing 2 free throws. Rough half for TT, 3-10 from the field and 1-6 from the foul line, and a poor close to a half that the Cavs seemed in firm control of. 45 all at the break.
Philadelphia came out focused to start the third. They scored on their first 4 possessions, giving them 9 straight trips ending in a score dating back to the timeout in the second. Tristan Thompson looked like November TT on a possession early in the quarter. He received a pass in the post but instead of going up strong he froze, then backed the ball out to give himself some space. Then he picked up his dribbled and forced a dangerous bounce pass to Wayne Ellington who caught it under the hoop, dribbled back out to the 3 point line, and re-fed TT in the post. And then he lost the ball out of bounds trying to make a move. At the other end, Evan Turned capped of a 9-0 Turner-Cavalier run with a 3. After a funny looking hook shot by Tyler Zeller that brough A.C. out of his coma, Zeller spotted the 76ers 4 points with porous D and then a lazy inbounds pass that was stolen. Since the timeout in the second the Cavs were outscored by 19 points, getting only 2 stops in over 10 minutes.
Tyler Zeller pump faked the living daylights out of Spencer Hawes and threw down a vicious dunk to give the anxious crowd something to cheer about. And then he drained an 18-footer, also known as the shot that will probably determine his NBA ceiling. Then Zeller drew a foul boxing out two 76ers, made a strong-man’s layup after a sharp weak-side cut, and forced Spencer Hawes into a bad shot at the other end. Really nice stretch by Zeller, but unfortunately the Cavs couldn’t use it to cut into the lead at all. At the end of 3, the Cavs trailed 77-66.
This one started off well. Walton rattled in a 3, and then Boobie dropped in a floater. A.C. laughed and commented on Boobie’s “patented” floater. I think he was reminiscing about the ol’ days, as this floater was Boobie’s first made 5-9 footer of the season. C.J. Miles drumrolled the rim again before it squeaked out, and then he missed 1 of the 2 free throws he earned. At one time C.J. Miles was 58-62 from the free throw line. The Cavs continued to play with energy and scrappiness at the defensive end – forcing a bunch of turnovers. Miles followed up a 3J with a layup to cut the lead to 4. Jrue Holliday hit an out-of-rhythm 3 and Bryon immediately, like before the ball hit the floor, called a timeout. Perhaps he didn’t need any more 1-ups. Immediately out of the timeout, the ball came loose from C.J. Miles and after rolling around with it, C.J. Miles burned another timeout, increasingly the likelihood that Byron Scott would be the victim of some devastating irony. From that point on, despite the extra energy and home crowd, the Cavs just got picked apart by the 76ers. Jrue Holliday blew by everyone for an uncontested layin, and then was the beneficiary of some sweet cross-court passing that he calmly exchanged for 3 points. Both teams traded baskets the rest of the way and the Cavs dropped another game added more ping pong balls.
We interrupt this recap to say: Holy Trey Burke! That was from 30 feet! OVERTIME.
Count me in the party that actually doesn’t believe Byron Scott has ever tried to lose a game. (It’s really lonely at this party.) Trey Burke just hit another 30 footer. The Cavs are severely undermanned and are giving a commendable effort in this month of March Sadness. Tyler Zeller showed some signs of life tonight. He finished 7-10 from the field with 10 boards, 3 assists, a nice block, and only one turnover. He was his usual swiss cheese self on defense, but still, he was a factor. Tristan Thompson had a forgettable game. Really didn’t make much of an impact at either end and per usual, the Cavs frontcourt was dominated by the 76ers. C.J. Miles has a great game.
Thankfully, the game ended with enough time for me to watch a crazy UM/KU Tourney game. Trey Burke might have just planted himself in the top 5.