The Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Miami Heat 124-121 in overtime Monday night. The loss came with star players LeBron James and Kyrie Irving sitting out for routine maintenance on the second night of a back-to-back. I think its safe to say that the loss was expected, as the team shifts from pursuing the first overall seed to preparing for the upcoming playoff run.
There are not a lot of conclusions that can be drawn from this game. Tyronn Lue used both Kay Felder (he left the game injured) and Larry Sanders in this one, and neither is likely to see the court when the games really matter. In fact the most useful outcome of this contest will likely be increased rest time for the Cavaliers two most explosive players. But despite how little the on court product in this game mattered, it was some of the most fan Ive had watching this team in the last few weeks.
Before I go further, it should be noted that I am a proud University of Illinois alumnus and I love the greatest Illini basketball product to play in the NBA during of my lifetime, Deron Williams.
The outcome of this game didn’t matter to the Cavs tonight, they basically admitted that when they sat LBJ and Kyrie. The expectations for this one were VERY low. But sometimes life gives you a little treat. Tonight was one of those nights.
Deron Williams put on a show tonight. A throw back, vintage, one of the leagues best two point guards Williams show. Deron was a threat from anywhere on the court. He made an impact rebounding, passing and scoring. In all honesty he was playing like a wanna be Russell Westbrook., tallying 35 points, 9 assists, 7 rebounds and 10 turnovers. For one game at least Deron looked like the kind of difference maker he was when he lead the Illini to the National Championship game, and the Utah Jazz deep in the playoffs.
Williams was hot from three but also excelled in the pick and roll. Williams wasn’t perfect, he had quite a few turnovers, but it didn’t matter when had the ball I felt compelled to watch. When he tied the game at 106 with just over two minutes left to play, I jumped out of my chair like it was the NBA Finals. And when he did it again, this time to take a one point lead with 30 seconds left in overtime I made such a racket I thought my neighbor might call the cops.
Simply put it was an outstanding single game performance from an unexpected player and a whole lot of fun to watch. And on random Monday nights when all anyone cares about is the playoffs it made this game a lot more bearable than it had any right to be.
The Cavs lost but at this point the rest LeBron and Kyrie got is more important than a single game result. I’m just glad Deron Williams was around to make the 81st game of the season a memorable one.