The Cleveland Cavaliers (6-13) traveled to take on the Atlanta Hawks (11-10) and, after yet another horrendous first quarter, they fell by a score of 108-89. Kyrie Irving was 0-9 from the field and 0-3 from the line, resulted in the first scoreless game of his NBA career. And despite 30 points on 20 shots from off the bench from Dion Waiters, the Cavaliers were unable to overcome the early deficit. Al Horford led the Hawks with 22 points and 9 rebounds, while Paul
TrillMillsap added 16 points and 14 rebounds. Also of note: Kyle Korver set an NBA second with a made-three pointer in his 90th straight game.
Key Play to the Game
This was more a key quarter and style than key play. Atlanta came out scorching from the get-go, shooting 60 percent from the field in the opening period. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, shot 30.4 percent from the field, as well as 20 percent from behind the arc. And as expected, the Hawks’ outstanding ball movement was the key to their success. On their 47 made field goals, they assisted on 31 of them. As for the Cavaliers, on their 38, they only assisted on 19 of them. Thus, each time Atlanta made an open look off a timely pass, it was another nail in the Cavaliers coffin.
Wine & Gold MVP
The aforementioned Waiters (who really does seem to be finding his role as sixth man) played one of his best games of the season tonight in Atlanta. On a night where Irving (in case you missed it the first time) scored zero points and C.J. Miles scored three, Waiters needed to step up and fill the scoring void. And as noted before, the second year guard did so in a mostly efficient manner. His night wasn’t all perfect, as I can still nitpick some of his shot choices and defensive play, but it was better than another Cavaliers tonight. Without Waiters, this game would have been near impossible to watch for any self-respecting Cavaliers fan.
So, uh, Hawks, you guys.
— Cole Patty (@ColePatty) December 7, 2013
When Waiters is bad, the Cavs are bad. When Waiters is good, the Cavs are worse.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) December 7, 2013
Waiters, Bynum & Jack have 51 of #Cavs 62 points
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) December 7, 2013
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 7, 2013
Coach Brown Breakdown:
I’m not sure how to take a look at Brown’s performance on the bench tonight. I’m not sure there is anything he could have done to stop Atlanta from getting hot early other then going with the all-Mike Brown lineup (i.e. defense and hustle) of Matthew Dellavedova, Carrick Felix, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao. And even that
juggernaut probably couldn’t have stopped the Hawks. Still, the Cavaliers did some little things wrong that could have harped on. For instance, when Varejao was defending Al Horford, he gave him enough room to pull up for jumpers in the mid-range, and as usual, he was effective. You also have to wonder why he went to Bynum when it was clear the Cavaliers were having more success pushing the tempo and getting out in transition. And why didn’t Earl Clark play more than six minutes off the bench to help negate Atlanta’s stout frontline?
However, the one thing I did like about Brown’s decision making was that he did not put Irving back in during the fourth quarter. Playing the worst game of his career, and the Cavaliers already out of the game, there wasn’t a need for Irving to be in the game. And maybe it will serve as motivation for still struggling Irving, as he watched Waiters (and to a lesser extent Jarrett Jack) get hot from the field and somewhat make the game more competitive.
With a matchup with Chris Paul on the docket for tomorrow, I think this was the right message to send to Irving.
Tomorrow, the Cavaliers will return home to take on the Los Angeles Clippers, lead by a trio of Paul, Blake Griffin and coach Doc Rivers. This will again be a tough test for the Wine & Gold, as the Clippers are outstanding at moving the ball to open shooters and getting good looks. Plus, as I alluded to above, it may be the best indication yet of where Irving is truly at. Coming off his worst game in a season where he has yet to return to the form that saw him become the darling of All-Star weekend last season