Was this a moral victory? I don't know if you can say that. The Cleveland Cavaliers were tied with the Portland Trailblazers at 96 with about three minutes left in the game.
They then proceeded to give up baskets on every possession ever and take off balance jumpers that didn't come within the flow of the offense. The result? A 12 point loss to one of the Western Conference's best teams.
To be honest, I don't know what to take from this game. For stretches of the game, the Cleveland Cavaliers defended as a team at a high level. For stretches of the game Dion Waiters looked like a dynamic young guard with a future as a very good NBA player. Kyrie Irving had a stretch where he got where ever he wanted on the court, and that usually meant he was at the free throw line.
Tristan Thompson had great possessions defending LaMarcus Aldridge. Luol Deng looked like an all star for a lot of the night. This was a high quality basketball game, with officiating that didn't do the Cavaliers any favors. Portland is a really good team. The Cavaliers hung with them until the very end. It would be a lot easier to feel good about this game if the team wasn't 14-25. The team is in a hole. With Deng, they appear ready to be able to dig themselves out. Do they have enough season left?
Aldridge was having a good game before he scored 6 straight points with the game knotted at 96. A questionable call on Anderson Varejao (I think Andy probably did push him in the back) seemed to give Portland a little spark and they didn't look back. The guy is one of the best players in the NBA. Sometimes you have to tip your hat.
I don't think Irving and Waiters played bad, and they had stretches where they were each very good, but as they get better these games are going to be much easier to win. Waiters finished with 18 points on 19 shots, with 3 assists to 1 turnover. Irving had 21 points on 20 shots, with 4 assists to 3 turnovers. After a disappointing first half guarding Lillard, he was much better in the second half, minus an alley oop Lillard finished after Irving was caught napping.
Both of these guys are ultra talented. Both of them, if they were just a little better, could have gotten the Cavaliers a victory.
- The Cavaliers have a jammed back court. C.J. Miles only played 12 minutes tonight. That's awful.
- Jarrett Jack played 12 minutes tonight. I can't imagine he stays happy if that keeps up.
- Dion Waiters was 1-4 from the free throw line. Not particularly good.
- Varejao got in Irving's face after the Lillard lob finish. Good.