As expected, one of Miami's forwards absolutely torched the Cavaliers tonight. Yup, that's right, Chris Bosh scored 35 points on 10 of 16 shooting and 14 of 14 from the free throw line. The Cavs had no answer for the Heat's power forward as the big man scored 19 points in the fourth quarter and 9 in the final 2:36. Bosh played his best game of the season and led the Heat to a 92-85 win over the Cavs in Miami.
Cavs Leaders: Points: Irving, 17; Rebounds: Varejao, 11; Assists: Irving, 4
I absolutely love how the team came out and fought tonight. I know people don't like the concept of a "moral victory" but this was one if I've ever seen it. After getting completely thrashed by Atlanta and Chicago, I thought the Cavs were in for another beatdown at the hands of a far more talented team. I'm not sure who, exactly, to credit for injecting some life into this team (although I suspect Byron Scott), but it was really great to see. Everyone played hard and fouled hard. It was 100% effort on every single play and they fought til the very last buzzer. Great to see from a young team after two potentially deflating losses.
This is the only time I'll mention it (probably) in this recap: Byron Scott's rotations are weird. He took Semih Erden out of the rotation tonight because of the Heat's athleticism, but then replaced him with Samardo Samuels? Don't get me wrong, Samuels was great (more on him later), but it's just kind of odd. Ramon Sessions got 22 minutes while Kyrie Irving played just 26 minutes. The Cavs have another game tomorrow night in Cleveland, so perhaps he was just trying to keep everybody fresh, but it was kind of weird to see.
Tristan Thompson did not play with an ankle injury tonight. This opened up the door for Ryan Hollins and Samardo Samuels to get some minutes. Honestly, they both played alright. Other than Ryan Hollins getting 4 fouls in the first 5 minutes of playing time, they were surprisingly competent. Not that Joel Anthony or Dexter Pittman are anything special, but it was nice to see both of those guys making the most of the minutes that they were fortunate enough to get. It seems like Scott is really getting the most out of his players, which is always good to see.
Turnovers were ridiculous. If you read my game preview (you better have read my game preview), you'll know that I identified turnovers as the most crucial aspect of the game tonight. So after I talk so much about how the Cavs need to limit turnovers and not allow the Heat to play in transition, what do the Cavs do? Yup, they turned the ball over 20 times. I'm pretty sure they were called for about 6 charges, which tells me that they are being a little too aggressive and forcing the issue. Byron Scott commented after the game that some guys were trying to go for the "home run pass" instead of making the simple passes. Ridiculous ideas such as Omri Casspi throwing an alley-oop to Antawn Jamison are the types of things that lead to such a high turnover total.
Samardo Samuels hasn't played in very many games this year, but I think that might change a little bit after Tuesday night. Actually, I have no idea. Regardless, Samuels played like a man possessed in the first half, scoring 10 points on 5 of 5 shooting (read: dunking) very early on. He was just more physical than Miami's big men and made some surprisingly quick moves to get to the rim. As the game went on he got suckered into taking a few midrange jumpers, but he ultimately finished with 15 points on 7 of 10 shooting with 5 rebounds. Not bad for a backup center/power forward in 22 minutes of work.
Kyrie Irving played really well, albeit not for very long. As I stated before, Scott only gave Irving 26 minutes and in my opinion, waited too long to bring him in once the game got close in the fourth quarter. I would have liked to have seen Kyrie in the game with about 7:30 minutes to play instead of around 5:00. Irving continued his freakishly efficient scoring, pouring in 17 points on 7 of 11 shooting. Once again, the Cavs were not good at taking care of the ball and Irving had 3 turnovers to 4 assists. Scott seems to really be riding him about improving his defense and I suspect that we won't be seeing Kyrie on the court for 35 minutes a night until he plays better, more consistent defense.
Anderson Varejao's performance was not notable at all. He had 11 points and 11 rebounds (4 offensive), or in other words: what he does every damn night. He's so incredibly consistent that I think people are taking it for granted. We can pretty much bank on Andy V grabbing 10+ boards and scoring some hustle points around the paint while otherwise just being a pain in the ass for the opponent. Gotta love the Wild Thing.
Fear The Sword's Player Of The Game:
This is a no-brainer for me. Alonzo Gee played spectacular defense on the Heat's small forward, holding him to by far his worst game of the season. Number 6 had 18 points on just 8 of 21 shooting while tallying 5 rebounds, 5 assists, and 5 turnovers. Gee had a couple thunderous dunks, but it was his defense that stood out. I can't say enough about Gee's defensive efforts tonight.