Kyrie Irving started slow. He missed his first five shots. He hadn't played in a live basketball game in over six months, and the 76ers, if nothing else, have athletes that put forth effort defensively. Still, he was moving well and set up Timofey Mozgov for an early assist. Eventually, shots started to go down.
Irving finished by making five of his last seven shots, and ended up with 12 points on 12 shots. He had four assists and a turnover. He moved well, doesn't appear hurt, and can regroup and feel a bit more comfortable moving forward. He made both of his three point attempts. It was 17 minutes of work. We will see what he and David Blatt have to say after the game. Hopefully he can take another step forward on Wednesday against the Knicks.
One Cavalier who didn't have to work off any rust was LeBron James. He was outstanding, and he punished the 76ers today. He was needed for just 25 minutes, and notched 23 points on 17 shots, five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a block. He did a little bit of everything. After missing a free throw, he reacted viscerally in disgust. He was in complete control, and so were the Cavs.
Your Cleveland Cavaliers 108. The Philadelphia 76ers, 86.
The Cavs played pretty good defense throughout, and the offense clicked for most of the night. After turning the ball over four times in the first quarter, Matthew Dellavedova had himself a heck of a third quarter. He finished with 20 points on 10 shots, uncommon efficiency scoring from the Australian. He contributed two steals as well. J.R. Smith similarly excelled. He had active hands defensively, and even chipped in with four assists. He made the right play multiple times, and found LeBron James for two huge dunks.
And of course, I really liked the game Tristan Thompson played. Kevin Love got in foul trouble, so Thompson played extended minutes with Timofey Mozgov again, just as had happened against Oklahoma City. They logged productive minutes, and in general, I continue to be impressed with what Thompson brings to the table defensively. It's hard to make too many judgments based on a 76ers game, but this has been going on for the entire season. Granted, much of the success defensively has coincided with time sharing the court with Dellavedova and James, but in the case of James, Mozgov has had that same advantage.
If you're a Cavs fan, this was a lot of fun. LeBron James was fire, and Kyrie Irving got his legs underneath him. What's not to like?