So if you read my preview, you know that I was talking about how the Pacers would respond to their beatdown the night before. It was apparent early on that Indiana was not very interested in playing this game. They came out flat, and the Cavs came out gunning. With 3-days rest, the Cavaliers look fresh and shot the lights out. It culminated in a 98-87 win that wasn't even that close.
Also, let me remind you that I'm giving away 2 tickets to the Cavs game against the Celtics on Feb. 28th. Check it out.
I already mentioned the energy levels, but the discrepancy was staggering. The Cavs simply dominated Indiana in the first half. They jumped out to a 20-point lead merely 18 minutes into the game and just cruised to a wire-to-wire win.
Can we talk about what the Pacers did on offense for a minute? For the game, they shot 36% from the field...but it was as low as 28% for much of the game. They had 9 assists and 6 turnovers TOTAL. What were they doing with the ball? How do you have that little ball movement for an entire 48 minutes? In order to get those kind numbers, you pretty much just have to go iso for the entire game and have the first guy to touch the ball shoot it every time. In comparison, the Cavaliers had 24 assists and 11 turnovers. That, to me, is the sign of a much more fluid offense that tries to get everyone involved and works the pick and roll. Speaking of the pick and roll....
It looked GOOD. There isn't a much simply play in basketball, yet so few teams execute it properly. We know that Kyrie Irving is a skilled point guard (understatement?), but have you seen the guys that he's running the PnR with? Anderson Varejao was starting to form some chemistry with Irving, but then he got hurt. So that leaves Kyrie with Semih Erden as his PnR roll man? Yeesh. Man, not even someone as good as Kyrie could make Erden goo- OH WAIT. Using the pick and roll and feeding him down low, Irving and Ramon Sessions worked Erden into the game and as a result, Erden had a career game. 18 points and 8 rebounds on 7 of 8 shooting. Booyah. Erden is not worthless!
Daniel Gibson got hurt again. The Cavs simply cannot stay out of the trainer's room. Gibson came down on Paul George's foot/leg late in the second half and would not return. The replay looked like he had a pretty bad sprained ankle. The initial x-rays were negative, but we all know that that was the case with Andy's injury as well, only to have the MRI reveal a fracture. Boobie left the arena in a walking boot and we'll know more later today.
Antawn Jamison pretty much sucked. 13 points on 6 of 18 shooting is not what you're looking for. Jamison also shot 0-6 from behind the three point arc. That's pretty damn impressive. Just don't be so inefficient next time, Tawn. It's okay, we forgive you.
Ramon Sessions was relegated to the bench with the return on Kyrie to the starting lineup. Despite this, Ramon still managed to play 30 minutes. Once Gibson went down, the Cavs were incredibly short on SGs (wow, this is the first time I've said this all season). That means that Byron Scott had to play Sessions and Kyrie at the same time for much of the second half. Ramon continues to be productive in his minutes, scoring 13 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 4 assists. He also did not miss a shot all game. He went 5 of 5 from the field, 2 of 2 from three, and 1 of 1 on the charity stripe. Cool efficiency, Razor Ramon.
Rough night for Alonzo Gee. He did have the assignment of guarding Paul George, the super athletic ever-growing freak of nature for Indiana, and held him to 11 points on 4-14 shooting. On the offensive end, Alonzo struggled mightily. He had just 8 points on 2-11 shooting, including 0-4 from three. Combine that with Jamison and the two went an overall 8-29 shooting and 0-10 from deep. Wooooooowwww. It's alright though, because the Cavs won and Gee absolutely posterized Dahntay Jones.
Kyrie Irving played very well in his return from his concussion. He resumed his freakishly efficient scoring and made the Cavs offense look very fluid and smooth. Ky scored a game-high 22 points on 8-12 shooting and threw in 5 assists with just 1 turnover. Jeremy Lin who?
Fear The Sword's Player Of The Game:
Raise your hand if you thought Erden would ever get a player of the game award. Now put all of your hands down and apologize for being big liars. He's looked miserable all season, but came out and dominated. It was refreshing. It gave me hope. I have no idea if we can expect him to ever replicate this performance, but he was really good. For the time being, it appears that Scott made the right choice with Varejao out.