The shorthanded Cavaliers found themselves without three players as Dion Waiters, Alex Kirk and Lou Amundson were pulled from the game due to a trade. I'll be perfectly honest, my eyes were mostly fixated on Twitter trying to sift through the noise as the deal obviously has more long term meaning to the Cavs than this game.
I did get to watch most of it though and it truly was a tale of two halves. The Cavaliers looked like the dominant team in the first half, getting off to a commanding lead on the backs of Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. However, a six and a half minute basketless drought to close out the third quarter allowed the Sixers to get back into the game. The meltdown continued into the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers completely unraveled. The Sixers ultimately came away with the three point win in heartbreaking fashion.
There are plenty of excuses available, but this is still an embarrassing loss that is near inexcusable in my eyes. It was easily avoidable and the team found a way to snatch defeat from the claws of victory. Having eight active players on the night sucked, but the Cavaliers had this game in hand against one of the league's worst teams, and they gave it away.
Thought's from the game:
- Kevin Love was his fantastic self once again. He was absolutely dominant on the scoreboard and the boards all night and there was nobody on the Sixers roster that could even come close to defending him. While his shots falling is certainly nice to see, he is clearly moving around better on the court and appears to really be getting into a groove. He's one of the most talented basketball players on the planet, so it was always hard to imagine him being held down for long. It'll be interesting to see how the situation will progress once LeBron James and Kyrie Irving join him in the rotation.
- Love's partner in the paint was also dominant tonight. Tristan Thompson finished with 18 points and nine ebounds. His shooting did tail off in the second half though, as he ended up regressing to 8-17 shooting for the night.
- Joe Harris had the best performance of his career, pouring in 16 points, including four three pointers. He had been in a bit of a shooting slump lately, so it's nice to see him break out of that in a big way.
- Matthew Dellavedova has been completely exposed with more significant minutes lately. He as absolutely atrocious on both ends of the court and completely cost the team the game at the end. Put "backup point guard" right underneath "rim protecting center" on the Cavs list of needs.
Regarding the trade, I'm a big fan of it. J.R. Smith is a bigger knucklehead than Dion Waiters, but he's shown that he can play properly on a winning team before. The true prize is Iman Shumpert, who can be the three and D shooting guard that the Cavs badly needed. It's not hard to imagine him as the long-term solution for the Cavs at shooting guard moving forward.