What looked like what might yet another listless road performance from the Cleveland Cavaliers turned into a second consecutive road win over a solid Western Conference team. The Cavs were down by 18 points, the Golden State Warriors couldn't miss from deep, and outside of Spencer Hawes, things were bleak offensively.
But it was only the first quarter. And the Cavaliers kept playing. A year ago at this time there were questions about whether Byron Scott would come back or lose his job. As the losses mounted the Cavaliers appeared to give up on their coach in a few games. Kyrie Irving famously failed, at first, to give Scott a vote of confidence. While there is still time in this season, there have been whispers about whether Mike Brown is the right fit for the Cavaliers.
I don't know that we know the answer to that. A new General Manager might want his own guy. The Cavaliers are better than they were last season. They've already won more games. Despite rumors that Irving doesn't like Brown's offense, Irving and Brown appear to get along. In the last month there have been several times Irving has laughed on the court with his head coach. Irving doesn't laugh all that often. The team hasn't quit up until this point.
The Cavs kept playing, manifested itself in a win last night. Dion Waiters had a great second quarter, facilitating, spotting up for a three, getting a heads up steal on Andrew Bogut and putting in the easy two ... it was really encouraging. He was playing winning basketball. I've written this year (and asked Mike Brown personally) why Waiters isn't starting. The answer seemed to be that it was because Waiters hasn't been defending. He seems to be working harder on that end. I don't really care if he starts or not. He probably should. But he does need to be playing at least 25 minutes a night. Hopefully that happens moving forward.
Waiters helped get the team back in the game in the 2nd quarter, and then Kyrie Irving played great to build up a double digit lead in the second part of the 3rd quarter. His defense on Steph Curry was great, he made some shots, and controlled the game. He had 5 turnovers which isn't good, but had 4 steals of his own. He only took 12 shots, and it's great to see him be able to impact a game without scoring.
Spencer Hawes had 22 points and 13 rebounds. The questions about trading for him seemed to based on whether or not you think the Cavaliers should have been giving up assets to try and win now. The Cavaliers likely aren't going to make the playoffs. It's possible. But it probably won't happen. But Hawes helping Irving and Waiters and Thompson win some games and grow as players might be worth two second round picks anyway. He seems like a great fit so far, even if he probably can't keep playing at this level.
A note on Tristan Thompson: he was ugly in this game offensively, even by his standards. He got a shot blocked by Andrew Bogut's ass. He played pretty good defense and David Lee though, who finished with 16 points on 16 shots, 3 of which came of a Luol Deng foul/three point play. And he was guarded for much of the night by Andrew Bogut, one of the best defensive centers in the league. It was a bad game. The Cavs won. So it's ok.
The Cavs play the Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow night. That's going to be difficult. They are a real title contender. Hopefully the Cavs play with confidence and we continue to see some growth.