If there were any doubts left out there about how special this season has been, and more importantly will be, hopefully last night's win in Phoenix will bring you all aboard the Cavaliers bandwagon. In a consistently high effort all night long, the Cavs not only broke a team record for road wins in a season(23), they were able to win in Phoenix for the first time in 10 years.
For most of the night it had the feeling of several prior games in Phoenix, especially during the LeBron James era. The Cavaliers got caught playing the Suns' up-and-down transition game, taking quick shots and playing little defense. Trailing 93-89 heading into the 4th quarter you got the sense that the wind and gold were going to have to pick up the defensive intensity if they were going to pull out the win. Like so many times the past couple of weeks(Atlanta, Miami, LA) the Cavaliers did just that and turned a deficit into a lead.
The play of the night, in a game filled with offensive moments, was on the defensive end. With the Cavaliers leading 97-95, Jason Richardson looked to be going in for an easy breakaway dunk but decided, selfishly, to turn it into his personal dunk contest. Deciding to go for the 360-slam game LeBron James just enough time to sky and smash the ball out of Richardson's hands, off the backboard, to the waiting Cavaliers below. There looked to be contact, but to me, and apparently to the refs as well, if you decide to outwardly showboat during a game, well, there is going to be some benefit of the doubt for the hustling defensive player.
Of course LeBron also did it on the offensive end, registering his 3rd straight triple-double. I'll talk more about this later today, but LeBron has put the MVP debate to bed in my opinion. Playing extended minutes in back-to-back games has not been a regularity this season, but the past two games, when needed, LeBron has proven he is the most dominant force on both ends of the floor.
Can't forget Mo Williams who chipped in 30, and the re-emergence of Sasha Pavlovic who was key in the 4th quarter. In 28 minutes, Pavs added 16 points. If Sasha can bring that type of effort every night he could really add some spark off the bench, especially since he is a much better defender than Wally-World.
In all, another impressive win for the Cavaliers who now possess a 2.5 game lead over the Celtics for the #1 seed. There is a long way to go, but each win makes it that much tougher for the Celts to make up ground.
Next up, tonight in Sacramento. Then it's time for plenty of home cooking. The Cavaiers play 12 of their final 17 games at The Q, including 8 of their next 9.