Wow. The Q was rocking and the Cleveland Cavaliers showed up motivated and energetic. Even Andrew Bynum. The result was a 98-94 win at home over a team people think can challenge for the Eastern Conference crown. It was a game of runs and momentum swings. Momentum swung towards Brooklyn with a phantom call on Tristan Thompson with just over a minute to go. The Cavaliers defense stepped up, and Kyrie Irving took care of the rest with some help from Anderson Varejao. This team has a lot of players who can help in a lot of ways. They are going to be fun all year.
Quick points before I go talk to Mike Brown and the Cavaliers with the rest of the media.
1) Kyrie Irving had a quiet game and finished with 15 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and 2 steals. He was engaged defensively. He dribbled a lot, maybe too much, but he only turned the ball over twice. This was a ho hum night from a superstar in the making. When it came time for him to take over, he did. And it didn't mean forcing shots, either. He dribbled and dribbled and was patient until he found a wide open Anderson Varejao. He made the free throws that put the game out of reach while the crowd chanted "M-V-P".
2) And man, was Anderson Varejao good at the end of the game. He really came alive in the fourth quarter. I thought he played a very tentative first half, wasn't rolling hard out of picks he was setting for Kyrie and Dion. He wasn't rebounding like himself either. Either I was just wrong, or he came alive. He hit a big jumper off a Kyrie feed, and hit the free throw that put the game out of reach for good.
3) DION FREAKING WAITERS stepped up in a huge way. His defense on Joe Johnson, who has a clear size advantage was one of the highlights of the night. He hit some big shots when the Cavaliers offense really needed it as well. There are good midrange jumpers for Dion, and there are bad ones. I thought he was mostly fine tonight. But if he maintains the defensive pressure like he did, wow, I will be pleased.
4) Andrew Bynum - So that is what rim protection looks like. Bynum was everywhere defensively, and took Brook Lopez (who had an otherwise great game) out of his element in his 8 minutes. He showed exactly how he can help the Cavs. If he is able to play 20 minutes a game, this team could be very, very good.
5) Tristan Thompson gave the Cavaliers some much needed help offensively, especially when things were stagnant. ONE of the Cavaliers bigs is going to have to be able to hit open jump shots. It really shouldn't be Tristan, but it needs to be someone. He did it tonight.
6) Other thoughts. Earl Clark defense and rebounding was awesome. CJ Miles offense was great. Anthony Bennett has a long ways to go, but his energy was appreciated. Jarrett Jack picked up the starters in the 1st quarter and it was huge.
Like I said, this team has a lot of guys that can help in a lot of ways. Hang on guys, this season is going to be fun.