The fate of this game was written in the stars, long before it was ever placed on the schedule. The stars transferred their burning energy to the hands of the Bucks and manifested in a rain of fiery buckets, destroying villages and scoreboards alike. We knew all along that on this night, the Cleveland Cavaliers would fall to the Milwaukee Bucks by a final score of 109-104.
But then, like a rogue black hole rolling through an unsuspecting galaxy, Kyrie Irving began to suck the power of the stars from the Bucks. Fourth quarter Kyrie made his season debut, wheeling through the paint, leaving scorched footprints in the floor of the Bradley Center. It was a sight to behold.
But alas, it was all for naught. He passed out of the Bucks' solar system too quickly, failing at the end to complete the transfer. The fire extinguished, Kyrie launched an ill-conceived fade-away three with eight seconds remaining, which promptly clanked off the rim, leaving Cavs fans downtrodden.
There were things to like and things to loathe aplenty.
As far as the team goes, this game was pretty much the exact opposite of every other game so far this season. The defense looked sub-par for large stretches, especially to start the game. Even when the defense picked up and the Cavs were contesting shots, Milwaukee couldn't miss, especially from the land of three-pointers.
It was just a poor defensive showing throughout. The Cavs' bigs got taken advantage of when they showed hard on pick and rolls. Kyrie couldn't keep Nate Wolters out of the lane at all. Yes, Nate Wolters. Gary Neal and O.J. Mayo both hit every shot imaginable. Contested, open, it didn't matter.
And while the defense faltered, the offense finally awoke from its five game slumber.
Kyrie Irving shot a modestly efficient 10-20, connecting on 4-6 from three for a total of 29 points. He looked like himself again, which staunched the blood flowing from my eyes, having watched the Cavs' offense without its premier player hitting on all cylinders.
Perhaps most importantly for Kyrie, the scoring didn't come at the expense of his taking care of the ball. He finished the night with eight assists and only two turnovers -- a marked improvement from his nine in the last game.
Kyrie's oft-maligned running mate Dion Waiters had a huge bounce-back game. He was attacking the rim all night long and to great effect. His 21 points on 7-13 shooting led the Cavs for much of the game until Kyrie fourth quarter explosion. He also (finally) managed to entice the referees to blow their whistles. The only problem? He went 6-11 from the FT line, in addition to being 1-4 from three. His attacking the rim was so good, though, that I'm willing to overlook those deficiencies for now in order to focus on a good performance.
Given the prevailing topic of discussion for the day, I can't go much further without an acknowledgement of Anthony Bennett's first bucket of his NBA career. It came on a three-pointer, as it only could, and immediately assuaged all our concerns.
Wait, it didn't? Oh. Well, at least this can stop being a thing. Because it was a really annoying, stupid thing. Good riddance, thing.
While the bucket produced a collective sigh of relief large enough to cause a title wave to wipe out Kelly's Island, it was another rough shooting night for Bennett on the whole. That shot was his only make of the night on five field goal attempts. However, the shots he took were good shots for the most part, and he looked a bit more confident when taking them after the make.
It was discussed ad nauseam today, but it should be noted that I thought Bennett did a good job of defending and rebounding. Sure, he'll slip up every once in a while and blow a rotation or box out, but he also bodied guys up well and managed to get two steals by stepping into some interior passing lanes.
He even made a nice pass from the high post to Andrew Bynum for a wide open dunk. Bynum landed and grimaced slightly before coming out of the game at his regularly scheduled time, which caused people to freak out for no good reason. Of course, the baseless speculation turned out to be completely unfounded when Bynum returned to the game in the second half, as per usual.
It's still apparent, at least to me, that Bynum hasn't quite shaken off the rust yet. He's making nice, quick post moves to get good looks, but coming up just a bit short. This could be due to him not quite having his legs under him yet, meaning he's not releasing from as high a point as he's used to. He should straighten this out within time, though. The fact that he's playing this much already is a great sign in and of itself, regardless of performance.
As for the other two frontcourt dwellers, Andy had an excellent jump shooting night and shooting night on the whole. He finished 6-9 for 12 points, almost entirely coming off of jump shots.
Tristan, however, struggled mightily, going 1-5 for a measly five points. His only make came on a nice, in-rhythm jump shot from 13 feet out, which saw him use much improved footwork as compared to jumpers past.
Neither he nor Andy rebounded particularly well. Seven for Tristan and eight for Andy against a shoddy rebounding team like the Bucks (who also happened to be without Larry Sanders) is not going to cut it. There were a few times where both of them would get their hands on the ball, only for neither to come up with it. It may have been pure happenstance, but there needs to be better communication and understanding between the two of them in this regard.
Lastly, the small forwards. Earl Clark was okay. Alonzo Gee was okay. They both played okay defense and hit a couple of shots, so they played okay on offense. Okay? Okay. CJ Miles had another solid game, scoring in bunches and making a spectacular no-look pass on the break to Jarrett Jack.
Oh yeah, Jarrett Jack. He sucked. His propensity to take contested mid-range shots is really annoying, but something I guess we'll have to live with. His defense was also pretty atrocious. Luckily, Mike Brown seems to be pretty flexible with his rotations, not letting Jack stay in for the entire fourth quarter this time, as he was subbed out for CJ Miles with roughly 7 minutes to go.
Overall, it was a perplexing affair filled with peaks and valleys and cliffs and plateaus. All sorts of geological formations. It was like a Yes album cover. Hopefully the offense and the defense can begin to coincide at some point.
I don't think you guys need any prompting to share your thoughts. So have at it.
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|44||Marquess of Rockingham||4|
|49||The Lame Ranger||3|