Just when we thought the Cavs were turning a corner, they play like this against the Bucks at home. The Bucks were 5-20. The Cavaliers needed overtime to beat them. Kyrie Irving scored 39 points and did it pretty darn efficiently. He also had four blocks. And he had the flu. Not a bad game for the young man.
The Cavs entered this game a little bit short-handed. But they can't really complain because essentially everybody on the Bucks is hurt too. At first, it looked like the Cavaliers were going to blow them out and cruise to an easy win at home. But then the Milwaukee Bucks went on a 12-0 run to end the first quarter and got right back into the game.
Neither team could shoot at all. It was sad and made for a pretty boring game of basketball. This was a classic battle of two real bad offensive basketball teams. When that happens, the quality of basketball usually isn't that great. The game was close throughout. The two teams were tied at 47 at halftime and entered the fourth quarter tied at 70. The Cavs were down 96-94 and had the ball with 8.8 seconds left. Kyrie drove to the hole and missed the layup...but Tristan Thompson followed his miss and tipped it in to tie the game with 1.8 seconds left. Once we got to overtime, the Cavs played a bit better. Kyrie started to take over and the Bucks couldn't match it.
Some thoughts and stuff.
Kyrie Irving almost sat out this game due to illness, but he toughed it out and played anyway. He looked a bit sluggish at time, taking more possessions off than we're used to seeing this year. But for the most part, he was pretty great. He missed some open shots (everybody in this game did), but also created off the dribble effectively. He started kicking the ball out when the Bucks' defense brought three guys to stop him at the rim. Fortunately, Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark were able to knock down some open shots.
Speaking of creating off the dribble, the Cavaliers really missed Dion Waiters' ability to get to the rim. Waiters missed the game due to a wrist contusion and it was fairly apparent how much the second unit suffered from his absence. Jarrett Jack is a solid guy off the bench, but he can't get to the rim and collapse a defense like Dion can. The Cavaliers are significantly better on offense this year when Waiters is on the floor and it showed tonight. Hopefully his wrist is feeling better tomorrow so that he can contribute against the Chicago Bulls.
C.J. Miles put together his best game since returning from that calf injury. His shot was finally falling and he had good activity on both ends of the floor. Alonzo Gee was bad. Earl Clark played pretty darn well though. And he drilled a HUGE three in overtime. I look forward to Cavs fans blaming 100% of the team's struggles on the small forward position. Even though this would have been a fairly easy win if the Cavs had simply guarded a three-point shooter occasionally or grabbed a few more rebounds. But I guess it's a lot easier to just keep saying "Alonzo Gee sucks!"
Remember how poorly the Cavs did on the defensive boards against the Portland Trail Blazers? Well that happened again. The Bucks had way too many 2nd chance points in the first half. I'm not sure why this is an area where the Cavs are struggling right now. It doesn't make much sense because Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao are two of the best rebounders in the league. I'm hoping that it's just a fluke and that they'll figure it out soon. But this team just isn't good enough on either end of the floor to let the other team have 2 and 3 chances to score. Despite the second chance point for the Bucks, Varejao and Tristan both played pretty well. Don't ask me how that works, but it does.
It was one of those weird games where the Cavs try to feature Andrew Bynum early on...but then forget that he exists later. In their defense, Bynum was not very good in this game. He shot just 3 of 14 from the field, but had a significant impact on the defense end.
Austin Carr update
It seemed like Austin Carr was particularly giddy tonight. Anybody else notice that? I love Austin Carr.
The road ahead
This was a game that the Cavaliers absolutely should have won. It shouldn't have been close.They're pretty lucky that OJ Mayo didn't make either of the three-pointers that he took with a chance to tie the game at the end of overtime. This team is so impossible to predict. Which Cavs team will show up for the next game? You'll have to tune in to find out! Cavs at Bulls tomorrow night at 8:00 PM.
We're having issues with SBN tonight, so I don't have the roll call right now. I'll add it later if it starts to work.