The Cleveland Cavaliers got back into the swing of things Friday night as they took on the Washington Wizards. After a week off, they were looking to get off to a great start against one of their rivals and elevate their status in the Eastern Conference standings.
The Wizards were looking to make a statement tonight as well. Before the game John Wall described the matchup as a "must win" and the game remained tight initially. The Cavs were able to open things up a little bit through relentless effort on loose balls, defense and offensive rebounds. Their effort began to wear on the Wizards and eventually it broke with the Cavs extending their lead to over twenty points. The Cavs weren't able to completely go for the kill shot however, as the Wizards were able to cut the lead to 14 at half.
The second half was a lot more of the same. The Cavs received a complete team effort while the Wizards failed to execute time and time again. They did a great job generating turnovers and capitalizing on those possessions. The ball moved well, David Blatt staggered the minutes of the big three well and everybody contributed to the win. With the production the Cavs are getting from their role players, it makes it a lot easier to stagger the minutes of the big three and helps build chemistry. Just like losing can have a snowball effect, the same can be said for winning this way. This kind of team ball is infectious and tremendously fun to watch.
Ultimately, the Cavs were able to come away with a blowout win and move up into fourth place in the Eastern Conference. They sit a half game back of the Chicago Bulls and will have a solid chance to keep the wins coming as they travel to New York and Detroit to complete their current road trip.
Thoughts from the game:
- The Cavs certainly looked liked they benefited from the rest that came with the All Star break. The Cavs came out with a ton of energy. It was certainly evident with players like Tristan Thompson who make their living running around and bringing energy.
- Iman Shumpert's hair was fantastic, so was his shooting. But really, the hair is in a league of it's own.
- In case you forgot during the week off, LeBron James is a very solid basketball player. In the past few years, LeBron has flipped the switch after the All Star break and starts building momentum for the playoffs. He was playing at a very high level before the break, and he looks like he's going to continue being a force down the stretch.
- The rivalry of John Wall and Kyrie Irving is always a fun one. Kyrie was absolutely fantastic and his team was able to come away with the win. Wall on the other hand did not have as much success. He was one of the only Washington players to play with any heart and was really left out to dry. As good of a defender as he is, it's not fair to expect him to try and slow down Kyrie while running everything on offense.
- Kevin Love looked a lot more spry tonight. He has such a huge impact on the game even when he isn't scoring and his increased mobility looked good on him. His shooting stroke still wasn't where one would expect it to be, but his body language was very good and he competed on both ends of the court.
- The Cavs now hold a 2-1 lead in the season series against the Wizards with the final matchup coming in the final game of the season. It's a great position for the Cavs to be in as they will be able to clinch a tiebreaker at home should the season series come down to the wire.