That game was a game. It was such a game, that The Game gave up his rap moniker in a show of respect. He will now be known as something else. I'm not clever enough to come up with something funny there.
As one would expect, Kyrie Irving closed out the game for the Cleveland Cavaliers on a last-second layup, giving them a 127-125 win in double overtime. Of course, it was his third game-winning attempt of the day, so it's hard to celebrate it with the usual exuberance. Still, it was cool. I liked it. It made me feel warm inside, like my heart was the basket and the friction from Kyrie soft swish produced just a touch of heat to make me remember what it's like to feel happy about the Cavs.
The fact that the Cavs needed two overtimes to squeeze out a win at home over the Philadelphia 76ers somewhat concerns me. However, that 76ers team is scrappy and has a few players playing out of their minds, so it's hard to be too mad. Honestly, Evan Turner looks like he should be starting the All-Star game at this point, and for some reason Michael Carter-Williams is hitting threes with impunity. Hats off to the 76ers for playing some really good basketball.
In the end, though, it wasn't quite enough to sweep the home-and-home from the Cavs. The true hero of this game may have been Tristan Thompson, as he made a timely swat, some even more timely rebounds, and played an all-around great game. he shot 6-10 from the field for 19 points while corralling 10 rebounds, six of which were offensive. Oh, and he also happened to go 7-8 from the FT line.
Perhaps the most important development from this game was the effectiveness of the previously inept three-guard lineup consisting of Kyrie, Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack. Jack was struggling throughout the game until Mike Brown went with this lineup, and it paid huge dividends for him. He ended up having his best game as a Cavalier thus far, scoring 20 points on 7-14 shooting, along with 5 assists.
The best part of his performance were the shots he took and made to get there. The shots he made were largely spot-up threes, specifically corner threes, the most efficient shot in the game. When Jack gets his feet set and has an open look, he's a good shooter. When he goes with a lazy crossover that accomplishes nothing, then jacks up a shot from two feet inside the three point line, I punch my couch.
Speaking of poor shot selection, let's talk about Dion Waiters. While he had some great moments in this game, including a great offensive rebound off of his own missed free throw and a couple monstrous dunks, his shot selection continues to baffle. It seems to get worse if he makes one of his terrible shots, which he did in this game. After that make, though, he took several more, and the result was not good.
He finished the game 24 points on 19 shots, which is solid, but it could have been so much better. He also came up with six assists and eight rebounds, which certainly bolsters his stat-line. If he can ever fix his propensity to take these silly fade-away step back mid-range jumpers, he can be a special player.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the major lineup shake-up by Mike Brown tonight. Alonzo Gee was named the starter over Earl Clark, who didn't play a single minute. The effect was mostly positive, as Gee did a good job of playing within the offense, keeping the ball moving and not taking stupid shots. His stats were paltry, but the simple fact that he understands his role in the offense better than Clark helped considerably.
Also involved in the mix-up were Henry Sims took Tyler Zeller's spot in the rotation and Matthew Dellavedova, who ended up subsuming Earl Clark's minutes for some reason. Sims did an adequate job, although he had a couple brainfarts, as to be expected of someone playing in their first ever NBA game. Why Delly got minutes at shooting guard over Sergey Karasev continues to baffle me, although he did an okay job of keeping the ball moving. He just provides nothing that Sergey doesn't aside from being able to run an offense and be shorter, which didn't help him at shooting guard.
Seriously, I'm so mad that Sergey didn't get to play because Matthew Dellavedova got his minutes. It makes no sense. None. I'm very interested in seeing how Mike Brown handles the rotation from here on out, because while he's made some good calls, he's also made some questionable ones. Like Sergey. Just play Sergey. For me?
And with that, I will end this recap. It was a win, so I'll take it, but boy was that a weird game to watch. Hopefully this gives the Cavs a boost in confidence and a glimpse at the kind of effort it takes to win games in the NBA.
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