Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Other times, it helps to bring an MVP, All Star MVP, and All Star to the table. The Cavs sport an advantage not a lot of teams have, with two players that can at times be completely unstoppable. After sleep walking through 3 quarters defensively, they woke up and outscored the Celtics 38 to 20 in the final frame to steal a win in Boston. Rajon Rondo (6 points, 8 rebounds, 16 assists) got the ball with 7 seconds left on the clock with a late chance to salvage a win for the Celtics, but never got off a shot against the defense of Joe Harris and Shawn Marion.
LeBron James (41 points, 4 rebounds, 7 assists) was unstoppable most of the night. Kyrie Irving (27 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals, 0 turnovers) ignited in the second half, scoring 23 points. Kevin Love (2-10 shooting, 12 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists) had another poor shooting night but timely rebounding. His season long parade to the free throw line came up big yet again. The Cavs also got a nice contribution from rookie Joe Harris, who hit three free throws and knocked down a three pointer to cut the Boston lead to three late in the game.
The Celtics were led by 21 points from Kelly Olynyk, 19 points and 10 rebounds from Jared Sullinger and Jeff Green chipped in 19 as well.
Defense Defense Defense - The Cavs obviously still have a mountain of work to do here. Covering the pick and rolls is akin to playing Russian Roulette at this point, with only one good possession loaded in the chamber. Anderson Varejao and Kevin Love are both struggling mightily with hard hedges on picks, and neither seems to have the length, athleticism or speed to recover most of the time. Time and again a poor recovery would lead to over rotation and a wide open jumper somewhere. The Celtics hit a lot of slop as well, which can't be overlooked, but the Cavs didn't really play good defense outside of the fourth quarter.
Kyrie Irving - Kyrie Irving is blistering hot right now. How hot? In the last 5 games Kyrie Irving is shooting 43% from 3, and has amassed 25 assists and 6 steals against only 4.....FOUR turnovers. Defense for him is still a bit of an adventure, but there has been marginal improvement. The way he is taking care of the ball, distributing, and pushing the pace right now, you live with it. He is playing out of his mind.
Joe Harris - Another 20 minutes for the second round pick from Virginia tonight. Harris isn't spectacular, he doesn't catch your eye, but he also doesn't catch your eye. I find myself not noticing him for the most part, which is what you want in his role. He was excellent down the stretch tonight, scoring 6 much needed points, and playing energetic and smart defense, which has been his calling card. David Blatt, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James all gushed about him post game, and with the Cavs off-guard rotation looking very unsettled, Harris is making a play on a permanent spot in the rotation.
David Blatt - He hasn't done anything blow your mind crazy, but two subtle tweaks I've liked in the last two games: Against New Orleans, Blatt switched up the defense on Ryan Anderson in the second half, using Shawn Marion and Joe Harris to crowd him, as opposed to Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao. Tonight, he used LeBron James, Harris, and Marion on Rajon Rondo late, obscuring his passing lanes more than 6'3 Kyrie Irving is physically capable of. There is a lot of work to do, but in game adjustments to slow down the players killing the Cavs is a nice change from the last few years.
The Cavs will be back in Cleveland tomorrow, hosting the Atlanta Hawks, who defeated the Miami Heat tonight 114-103. We'll see you then.