So the Cleveland Cavaliers are in-fact capable of producing a win. They took care of business at home against a pesky Orlando Magic team, routing them 106-74.
While the Cavs did not get out to a quick start, they were not deterred by early mistakes and turnovers. The Magic aren't a playoff team, but they have managed to give a scare to several good teams that took them lightly. The Cavs did not fall into that trap coming off a four-game losing streak. They produced the kind of performance that they can really build off of.
The Cavs managed to pull away to 56-38 lead at halftime. The Magic did manage to cut it to a 12-point game with nine minutes to go in the third quarter. But a flurry of Anderson Varejao buckets gave the Cavs the insurance they needed to put the game away for good.
The blowout win will leave the Cavs well-rested, as the big three all played 32 minutes or less. The Cavs will have a chance to keep their momentum rolling when they look to get revenge on the Wizards Wednesday night.
- LeBron James was incredibly assertive tonight both on offense and defense. He had a few above the rim plays and didn't settle for jump shots. LeBron is at his best when his drive creates looks for his much improved jumper and the Cavs rode that formula early and often to a dominant performance.
- Tristan Thompson was very active tonight on the boards and on defense. While Varejao has been an incredibly potent option in the pick and roll as well as from midrange. There probably is some room to cut back on his minutes for Thompson. Both for his health and energy, plus what Thompson has been bringing to the table. He finished with nine points, 11 rebounds and two blocks on 50 percent shooting in 22 minutes.
- That being said, Varejao was phenomenal tonight. It's nights like tonight that remind you just how fortunate the Cavs are to have Andy. His playmaking, effort, hands and shot making are all first class. Tristan's minutes being limited has been a testament to how good Andy has been this year. It's hard to keep him off the court. Blatt does need to do everything possible to keep him healthy throughout the year.
- The Cavs looked much better on defense against a Magic team that can be potent at times. The good vibrations from the offense seemed to ignite the team on the other side of the floor. The increase in stops gave the Cavs a chance to showcase their transition game, which is truly something to behold. They also seemed much better navigating the pick and roll tonight, which has been their Achilles heel so far this season. This could have more to do with Orlando lacking a veteran point guard presence, but it's certainly something to keep an eye on moving forward.
- Shawn Marion appears to be more comfortable as the season wears on. He is more decisive on the court and appears to have found his groove. While I envisioned him playing as a small forward/power forward on this team, I'll take progress wherever I can find it.
- Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love had quiet nights statistically, but it wasn't due to poor performances. Both took shots when they were available and each finished with a relatively efficient 12 points. There has been a ton of talk about trying to get Love going offensively and at times it has looked like the Cavs were forcing possessions to him, leaving the offense disjointed. Tonight it felt like all of his looks came within the flow of the offense and he had a few looks in the high post. There weren't any possessions where it felt like they determined it to be a "Kevin Love possession" as they dribbled it up court. With the offense they've been trying to run, you just need to find the man who is open and go to the hot hand. Tonight LeBron had a matchup advantage and they were able to get a lot of quality looks for everybody. There will be many nights during the season where Love will have huge nights, or where Kyrie just abuses defenders. The important thing is that they trust each other and try to not force the issue.