Coach Byron Scott started the night saying that if the Cavaliers want to contend, health is the first step towards that goal. That would be a start. In a game in which they played with pretty good intensity, they could never find an answer for Thaddeus Young or Evan Turner. Turner looked like the player the 76ers thought they were getting when they invested the number 2 overall pick in the Draft on him. He rebounded well, shot the ball capably, and controlled the game.
Cleveland got some decent performances, but struggled with team defense once again. Turner and Jrue Holliday found themselves open all over the court time and time again. Tyler Zeller had a great first half again, before nearly disappearing in the second half, again. Tristan Thompson got himself a lot of good looks but couldn't finish. I want to believe another summer will help. I don't believe he played in the fourth quarter. And for as good as Zeller looked at various points, Thaddeus Young played a hyper-efficient game with the rookie guarding him.
Alonzo Gee had a very Alonzo Gee game. 0-3 from three point range. The Cavs have to find a way to get shooting for the 3 position next season. Maybe it involves CJ Miles in the starting lineup. He finished with 19 points on 11 shots. Marreese Speights was a non-factor for most of the night. Shaun Livingston had some nice plays but was inefficient shooting. The Cavaliers simply have a lot of guys in roles they shouldn't be playing in. Injuries are to blame for a lot of this.
As far as Philadelphia goes, there was no tanking going on from their side. Their five starters played 35 minutes a piece. Doug Collins is riding the players through the end of the season. I admire it. If there is a game to be played, you might as well go out and try to win it, to paraphrase Bill Russell. Coaches are paid to win games, and even Byron Scott drawing up plays with less than two minutes, down by 12 shows that these guys have a lot of pride in what they do. Credit to CJ Miles, too, for playing until the end. I know these guys get paid a lot for their effort, but it is still nice to see.
Cleveland continues to hang on to the third most lottery balls. I would like to tell you this makes me feel better but, well, it doesn't. Seeing Kyrie Irving hit some jumpers in pre-game warm-ups did, though.
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