The Cleveland Cavaliers (4-7) stayed undefeated in overtime Saturday night by hanging tough with the Washington Wizards (2-7) all game long. Despite facing multiple double-digit leads, the Wine & Gold fought back at the end, had a chance to break a tie in regulation but instead rode the wave of Kyrie Irving to victory in the extra period. The Cavaliers broke an 0-6 road start to the season in besting the Wiz, 103-96.
Key Play to the Game:
Even though I wasn’t happy with Brown’s decision-making in this game, I was pleased with a timeout that he called with just under four minutes remaining in regulation. This was when Tristan Thompson was switched in for Earl Clark. Even though Clark was having a pretty good offensive game and didn’t look horrible on the defensive end, the move put a lineup of Irving/Dellavedova/Jack/Thompson/Varejao on the floor. Odd, but this unit got the job done. Cleveland closed the fourth quarter and overtime—mostly with this lineup—outscoring the Wiz 23-12. Irving’s 13 points during this span really electrified the Cavs offense.
Wine & Gold MVP:
PG Kyrie Irving – Despite turning over the ball six times, including the crucial one that happened on Cleveland’s last possession of the game thanks to good defense by Nene, he did make up for it by scoring nine straight points for his team to give the Cavs the lead in overtime. Irving totaled 41 points, five assists, four rebounds and shot 50 percent from the field, 57.1 percent from three and converted on all nine of his free throw attempts. Mr. Fourth Quarter also tallied nine points in the fourth quarter and nine points in overtime. After many, including myself, questioned his shooting and offensive play through 10 games, Irving silenced his critics tonight. Even though this was a game against a club that went into the game owning the worst record in the East, Cleveland ended an UGLY three-game skid, and for that Kyrie, we thank you.
Charles Barkley and Kenny Smith have a dinner bet on what team wins more this year: Cavs (Smith) vs. Wizards (Barkley).
— Richard Deitsch (@richarddeitsch) October 28, 2013
Jack/Gee/Clark/Karasev/Varejao on the court? Okay. Let’s see how this goes — Trevor Magnotti (@Tmagnotti) November 17, 2013
The Wizards can score but can’t stop anyone and the Cavaliers can’t score but play great defense. Something’s gotta give tonight right? — Rashad Mobley (@rashad20) November 16, 2013
This Cavs-Wizards game is crazy. How the hell did Bradley Beal lose the ball on a 2-on-0 fastbreak?
— Sreekar (@sreekyshooter) November 17, 2013
#Wizards thought the nightmare was over with LeBron leaving Cleveland, but they just found out it’s being replayed with Irving.
— Kiel Maddox (@InsaneBoost) November 17, 2013
Coach Brown Breakdown:
Coach Brown continues to run lineups that stagnate offense toward the end of games, and it continues to perplex me. I know that defense is especially important down the stretch, but you have to give Kyrie someone else to go to other than himself despite his fourth quarter tendencies. And even though Brown thinks he’s doing good by throwing a hustle guy like Dellavedova into the lineup to start off the final quarter (Note: Dion Waiters did not travel with the team due to sickness and C.J. Miles was in foul trouble early on in the third quarter), the Cavaliers aren’t going to be able to win games if they’re behind and using a lineup that puts Dellavedova next to Irving. Jack also accompanied Irving and Dellavedova in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, another move that I found confusing because C.J. Miles had four fouls and was efficient in his 15 minutes of play, scoring eight points and grabbing three boards. To me, it seems that Brown is throwing around lineups hoping that the players that he chooses make him look good. It’s been 50/50 up to this point.
The Cavaliers will have the Wizards again, but this time at Quicken Loans Arena. Even though Washington doesn’t pose that much of a challenge without Otto Porter logging minutes yet, it would give Cleveland the confidence boost they needed to get over their chemistry problems if they win back-to-back games against the Wiz. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. on Wednesday.