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Final Score: Cleveland Cavaliers defeat Washington Wizards 106-99

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A strong team effort gives the Cavs an impressive road win.

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Washington Wizards Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Wizards put up a good fight, but the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to dig in late in the game and come away with an impressive 106-99 win. Without Dwyane Wade on a second night of a back-to-back, the team was still able to get a great performance from their full roster in order to seal the game.

It’s really a shame that we haven’t yet had a playoff series between these two teams. While the Wizards believe that’s a result of the Cavs being scared of them (which is still amazing), it’s clear that a series between these teams would be absolutely electric. Cleveland would likely try a little harder on the defensive end than they do in these regular season games, but Washington has the ability to hang around with the Cavs offensively at times, and it almost always results in an entertaining style of game to watch.

Defense wasn’t even optional in the first half, it was legitimately punted by both teams. The only stops were the result of missed foul calls or turnovers. Washington was lead by their dynamic guards who combined for 26 of the Wizard’s 60 first half points. Although the real story was the balanced scoring each team received. At the half, there were 17 players that had at least 5 points, with John Wall and Bradley Beal as the only players in double digits.

The Cavaliers did not adjust to their tired legs well to start the second half. The ball movement the team displayed in the first half was nowhere to be found as they settled for jumpers and post ups. The offensive lull for the Cavs gave Washington an opportunity to make it more than just a one possession game in their favor for the first time in the evening.

Midway through the third, the Cavs started settling in a little bit more on offense. It was clear that they were dealing with some tired legs on the offensive end of the floor, as LeBron, Love, and Smith in particular launched some flat attempts.

While his shots didn’t look as pretty as usual, Love willed three three-pointers in during the third quarter. He also mixed in some strong takes to the basket.

LeBron couldn’t seem to break out of his shooting struggles, so he went into play-making mode down the stretch. He delivered several pinpoint long passes that rewarded cuts from Kyle Korver and Jeff Green. His feel for where he is at physically, plus what the team requires from him at any given moment is truly unparalleled.

The Cavs came into this game not facing a real challenge in well over a month. They’ve had the easiest schedule in the league so far, and they found a way to rise to the occasion. Without Wade to run the second unit, the team still found a way to keep everybody involved and make plays down the stretch.

Whether it be Love’s second half turnaround, LeBron’s incredible fourth quarter, the hustle plays made by Smith, and Korver, the team just found ways to make a difference and come away with an impressive road win.

Game Notes:

  • The Cavs ball movement really has been spectacular in recent games. Not only has it helped Jae Crowder to be more effective, but it makes integrating other players that thrive on cuts, like Jeff Green, Cedi Osman, or Tristan Thompson considerably easier. While Tyronn Lue mostly just receives blame when things are going wrong, it’s clear that the Cavs have evolved offensively and it has been a big part of their recent winning.
  • It’s hard to overstate the impact Kyle Korver has on the team. Not only does his off-ball movement attract tons of attention, but he is always in position defensively and consistently plays with effort. His three point shooting will always be his most noticeable contribution, but it’s the little things that really make his overall impact so significant.
  • It was a poor rebounding night from the Cavs bench bigs. While it was nice to see Thompson try playing more minutes, he failed to get a single rebound in 15 minutes of play. While he tipped a few to James to initiate a fast break, he just wasn’t the physical presence we are used to seeing. In addition to that, Channing Frye gave up several offensive rebounds and failed to collect a single rebound in his eight minutes. They helped LeBron Westbrook his way into a triple double, but it still backfired a couple times.
  • Another quality contribution from Cedi Osman off the bench tonight. The team was +7 with him on the court and he contributed 5 points and a steal to go with his effort on the defensive end. He has earned his spot in the rotation and has shown wisdom beyond his experience when it comes to embracing his role.