The Cleveland Cavaliers found a way to come up with an unlikely win as they defeated the Washington Wizards 119-115. In what initially seemed like a blowout in the Cavs favor, the complexion of the game changed as the Cavs found a way to make things way too difficult for themselves.
The Cavs were able to get off to a hot start in this one thanks to their shooting behind the arc. Kevin Love in particular really stood out, as he took advantage of a mismatch against Marcin Gortat.
That early success started to dwindle as the second quarter progressed. The Wizards were able to keep Cleveland out of transition and limited their ability to get into the paint. After the adjustments made by Washington, the absence of a point guard really became glaring for Cleveland.
Without somebody to consistently get the team into their offense, the Cavs offense wasn’t able to hold off against the surge from Washington. To make matters worse, the third quarter was one of LeBron James’ worst of the season.
Sloppy, passive play from James wasn’t cutting it on a night where the team really needed assertiveness from him. When things started unraveling, almost everything looked bad.
That malaise in the third quarter didn’t last, as James broke out of his slumber in the fourth quarter and willed the Cavs back into the game. With the game tied at 110 with under two minutes to go, the team managed to make up for their sins in the previous quarter and give themselves a shot at a seemingly lost game.
The inclusion of Jeff Green into the starting lineup has drawn the ire of some fans, including myself. But his effort on defense throughout the night was superb, and he came up with one of the biggest plays of the night in fighting for an offensive rebound drawing a foul with 21 seconds left. Green’s two free throws in the dying seconds gave the Cavs a one point lead.
The duo of Green and James were the strongest pairing for Cleveland on the night. While Love started strong, and James hit a lull, the pair came through when the team needed it the most.
But while the absence of a point guard hurt the Cavs on the night, Jose Calderon’s replacement came through with the dagger for the Wizards. With two seconds on the clock, John Wall attempted a pass to Markieff Morris which was picked off by Cedi Osman. Osman was fouled shortly after, hitting two free throws to ice the game.
After a great win over the Toronto Raptors, the Cavs showed their grit with this comeback win. They now head into Philadelphia tomorrow with a chance to essentially lock up the third seed in the Eastern Conference. Hopefully, George Hill will be available.