The Cleveland Cavaliers opened up their last week of basketball for the 2011-12 NBA season with a matchup against the San Antonio Spurs, who embarrassed Cleveland 125-90 in their only previous matchup. This time around the Cavaliers stayed competitive, but couldn’t contain the highly explosive San Antonio bench.
The Spurs (47-16, 27-5 home) beat the Cavaliers (21-42, 10-21 away) 114-98, outscoring the Cavaliers by 51 points combined in their two games this season. The Spurs now hold a 1.5-game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder, who lost to the Los Angeles Lakers and former Cavalier Ramon Sessions 114-106 in double overtime.
The Spurs are a forgotten team in the NBA despite leading the Western Conference in wins (47). I remember discussing with one of my friends about the Spurs creeping up on people by the season’s end. Boy was he right. The Spurs can win one more game of their remaining three, they’ll be able to clinch home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Despite not being mentioned in the same sentence as the Miami Heat, Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, the Spurs have definitely not been forgotten by the Cavaliers. With former Clevelander Danny Green combining for 33 points in his two games against his old team, the San Antonio starters also had their way with the Cavs.
Spurs forward DeJuan Blair had 15 points and brought in seven rebounds in helping lead the starting core to victory. Blair and company also had a lot of help from the bench, with Manu Ginobili adding 20 points and Stephen Jackson contributing 17. It’s ridiculous the production Greg Popovich has gotten out of Ginobili and Jackson this season. Jackson is averaging 9.8 points while Ginobili is averaging 13.2 points. The Spurs are going to be the first No. 1 seed to be called a dark horse.
Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving returned from shoulder injury two games prior to the matchup in Texas. Since returning Irving has averaged 16.3 points and 3.3 assists, shooting 8-18 from the field against the Spurs on Sunday. That has probably been Irving’s best shooting performance out of the last three games.
Combined Irving has shot .231 from behind the three-point arc, his lowest percentage by far this season within a stretch of three games. It’s understood that Irving is just back from his shoulder injury, but I thought he should’ve stayed out the rest of the season.
Kyrie is a competitor though, and just wants to get as much experience as he can. I’d say he did pretty good for only playing 11 college games at Duke after playing 49 (with the possibility of up to 52) NBA games so far. I applaud the young guy wanting to tough it out these last six games, just don’t get hurt.
A player who is making a huge push to make the roster next season now that Lester Hudson was casted away is Manny Harris, who had 14 points and four rebounds on Sunday. Over the past five games Harris has averaged 13.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.8 assists, making him worthy enough to grab a spot on the bench to start off the season.
It seems as if Hudson, Harris and Donald Sloan have all juggled their “five games of fame” already, but now it’s Harris with the starting role and the opportunity to impress his coaches.
The Cavaliers will be back in Cleveland Monday night for Fan Appreciation Night at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers will have to play the Memphis Grizzlies pretty tough if they want to leave their fans on a happy note for next season. Most people would like to see them tank the rest of the way, but it would be nice if Cleveland could win just this one more game for the fans. Thanks.