What's more fun than a crucial, meaningful NBA game in April? Blowing a team right out of the water as your star player returns!
Kyrie Irving is out of the funky shirts and back to doing what he does best, getting buckets. Irving accumulated 17 points, 8 assists, and 6 rebounds on 7/8 shooting in his return. There is always a worry that a team may suffer a hiccup when reintroducing a major part of their lineup back into the fold, especially when they have been playing well. But the Cavs showed that not only could they keep their impressive form, but they could build upon it.
Not only did Kyrie play well as an individual, everyone benefited from his presence and he was able to facilitate and play within the flow of the offense. In his first start alongside Irving since the disastrous start to this campaign, Dion Waiters scored 26 points and 3 assists on 10/15 shooting. This was one of those nights where Irving and Waiters look like the backcourt of the future, and make the evenings where they do not gel so frustrating. Last season when Waiters excelled with Irving out of the lineup, he did it as a ball dominant guard. This season however, he was playing alongside an even more ball dominant guard in Jarrett Jack. His ability to impact the game without the ball in his hands gets accentuated while playing alongside a gifted passer in Irving.
While Kyrie is still learning how to balance being the teams leading scorer and play maker, there is no denying that he does have a great ability to find his teammates and provide them with quality scoring chances when he chooses to.
While everyone benefits from having Irving back in the lineup, perhaps nobody missed Irving more than Spencer Hawes. The chemistry between Irving and Hawes is special and Steve was able to get plenty of open looks throughout the night, especially early on, as he finished with 20 points and 8 rebounds.
- Tristan Thompson had his second monster game in a row, scoring 20&11 on 6/10 shooting. It will be up to him and the rest of the Cavs bigs to take advantage of Atlanta's bruised up bigs in Friday nights crucial matchup.
- Scotty Hopson scored a point. It's possible that he does not see the court again this season, given the situation the Cavs will be in for the rest of the year. I really hope that's the case, as it'd be funny to say he was paid $1.3 million a point.
- Speaking of contracts, Jarrett Jack continues to look like the player we hoped we had signed this summer. This brings up many feelings that I'm not sure I'm ready to deal with.
- The Atlanta Hawks have lost to the Chicago Bulls. The Cavs now have one win fewer than the Hawks heading into Friday's matchup and sit two games behind them in the standings. It doesn't get much bigger than that.
- The Knicks eviscerated the Nets tonight, pulling themselves in a tie with the Hawks. That sucks, but hopefully their difficult schedule and their Knickness cools them down during the stretch. I believe in #FARTDOG.