One of my favorite times of the year is the grand finale; when December approaches and the excitement from Christmas makes the month go by in a blur. With two weeks left in the year 2012, it also makes it a perfect time for reflection. This happens to be my favorite part of December because it gives you a chance to look back on all the good times that encompassed a whole calendar year. In regards to the Internet, this time of year also brings up meditative posts recapping the best, and sometimes worst, moments that took place during the span of 366 days.
Since we are a Cleveland Cavaliers website, it is only proper to shower you with “Best of 2012″ lists up until the new year. Although Wine and Gold fans may not find many moments to look back on and smile about, that is fine. It is our job to bring you (what we think were) lists of the most awesome, moving, trilling, etc. portions of the Cavaliers’ play from January 1, 2012 until now.
In our first segment, we will be ranking the Top 10 games in which the Cavaliers were apart of in 2012. Since this list is titled “Best of 2012,” we will only be bringing you the best. What that means is that the only games that qualify for this prestigious ranking are contests in which Cleveland came out on top on. The still-in-rebuilding-mode Cavs only managed to win 26 games (so far) this year, so we’ll bring back the good memories by bringing you our Top 10. Enjoy.
10. Signs of a bright future: March 19
Cleveland Cavaliers 105, New Jersey Nets 100 at Prudential Center
When General Manager Chris Grant selected Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson with the first and fourth overall picks, respectively, in the 2011 NBA Draft, few knew what to expect. Irving had only seen limited time as a freshman at Duke University due to injury and Thompson was being brought in to amp up the Cleveland defense. Right from the start, Kyrie emerged as the star player donning a Cavalier uniform. Thompson, who is still very raw in his development, was a hard specimen to examine in the early goings. As the season took shape, the two molded into key components in the team’s success. Against the Nets at Prudential Center, Thompson and Irving combined for 53 points in the winning effort. Thompson recorded a career-high 27 points, showing that he is capable of bringing more to the table.
9. The beginning of Lesanity: April 6
Cleveland Cavaliers 84, Toronto Raptors 80 at Air Canada Centre
Despite recording the first quadruple-double in men’s NCAA basketball history, shooting guard Lester Hudson was a myth. It wasn’t until a stretch of four games, in which Hudson led his team back in multiple situations and averaged 23.3 points while doing it, that caused Wine and Gold owner Dan Gilbert to coin the phrase “Lesanity” over Twitter; a play on the 2012 NBA craze “Linsanity.” In the first of those four games, Hudson came off the bench for 32 minutes and recorded 23 points and seven steals against the Raptors in a winning effort. It’s a shame that Hudson isn’t still around, but his work ethic and lack of motivation resulted in him missing an NBA workout in the summer.
8. Irving’s crazy fourth quarter: February 21
Cleveland Cavaliers 101, Detroit Pistons 100 at Quicken Loans Arena
Cavalier fans are starting to get used to Kyrie blasting out double-digit points in the final frame, but what the rookie did against Detroit in February was stellar. He scored 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter, resulting in the Cavaliers outscoring the Pistons by 12 in the final 12 minutes and thus coming away with the one-point victory. To make things even more incredible for the Cavaliers, Alonzo Gee and Irving combined to score 30 of the Cavs’ final 35 points in the game. Gee scored 13 of his 17 points in the final quarter of play. The late game heroics became a common theme for the scrappy Cavaliers, and it all began with Irving’s tenacity.
7. Cavaliers win 2012-13 season opener: October 30
Cleveland Cavaliers 94, Washington Wizards 84 at Quicken Loans Arena
Despite only having five wins under their belt as of right now, the Cavs got off to a great start in their 2012-13 campaign with a home victory over the John Wall-less Wizards. It doesn’t matter that Washington holds the worst record in the Association. What mattered was Anderson’s Varejao’s 23 rebounds and the fact that the hapless Cavaliers started the season on the right foot and had the expectations of fans skyrocket. Since then things have gone a little different, but the season opener marked the beginning of a Kyrie-Dion Waiters backcourt (combined for 46 points) and the league-wide domination of Wild Thing. Andy has been swallowing up rebounds, especially on the offensive glass, at a decent pace since then, as he still leads the NBA averaging 14.6 boards.
6. Kyrie’s welcome to Cleveland: February 4
Cleveland Cavaliers 91, Dallas Mavericks 88 at Quicken Loans Arena
The Cavs were only up by one against the defending NBA champions when Kyrie made his way through the lane in front of a Cleveland crowd of 17,000+ and extended the lead to three. This late-game layup, his second in one week (we’ll get to that in a little bit), was enough to propel the Wine and Gold to a three-point victory. I would say it was at that point that players from around the league started noticing that Irving is a player who thrives on late-game scenarios and delivers consistently in those types of situations. The most impressive stat to take away from this game, however, is the one turnover that the then rookie converted against a team that mopped the floor with the Miami Heat in the summer of 2011.