In the second quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers were outscored by 12 points at the TD Garden Arena. At the half, the Boston Celtics lead the Wine & Gold by a score of 59-44 and it looked as if the Cavaliers were on their way to another drubbing at the hands of the Celtics.
But in the second half, the Cavaliers responded, slowly but surely making runs that brought the game closer and closer each minute. As the game got under two minutes, the Cavaliers found themselves within a possession, and with 18.7 seconds to go, it looked as if the Cavaliers might be actually able to escape with a victory.
Then, with Brandon Bass defending him, Dion Waiters attacked the rim, seeing a slower player defending him in space. But Bass defended Waiters’ drive perfectly, stuffing the guard at the rim. The Cavaliers were unable to foul until there was under two seconds left on the clock. After Avery Bradley missed the first free throw and made the second, the Cavaliers took a time-out to move the ball past the half court line. Again, it looked as if they might be able to send the game into overtime.
On a Jarrett Jack inbounds pass, Earl Clark – not Kyrie Irving and not even Waiters – got the ball on the inbounds pass. Clark was unable to get a shot off before the final buzzer sounded and the Cavaliers fell by a final score of 103-100. Irving lead all scorers with 32 points on 13-22 shooting, while Dion Waiters added 16 off the bench. Jeff Green and Jordan Crawford co-lead the Celtics with 19 points apiece.
The second quarter was what ultimately did the Cavaliers in. The Wine & Gold actually outscored the Celtics by 20 points in the second half and, with a full 48 minutes of execution and execution, this game likely would have been theirs. But, with the Celtics outscoring the Wine & Gold by 23 in the second quarter, that deficit was just too much to overcome. And, as has happened time and time again this season, one quarter doomed the Cavaliers and stopped them from winning a winnable game.
Moving forward, that’s an area of concern. This team is largely inconsistent and needs to play 48 minutes a night before we really know what their ceiling is. And games like this one against the Celtics leave more to the imagination than reveal information about the makeup of this team.
But all things considered, with the Andrew Bynum news hanging over their heads, at least the game was close and not a 48 minute beat down.
PG Kyrie Irving – 41 minutes, 32 points, 13-22 shooting, four of six from three, three assists
Kyrie carried the Cavaliers today. He was the one player effective in all three quarters and is starting to look like the budding superstar that was apparent for a large part of last season. With Andrew Bynum now likely done as a member of the Cavaliers, I think Irving is going to flourish as the team can play both more uptempo and have better spacing. Let’s see if I’m right.
SG C.J. Miles – 11 minuets, 0-5 shooting, 0-1 from three
Miles will play when he shoots well. When he doesn’t shoot well, he will be seated on the bench. He didn’t shoot well today, and with Mike Brown running three guard lineups with regularity, 11 minutes nights for Miles may not be that uncommon.
SF Earl Clark – 24 minutes, 4-9 shooting, 3-5 from three, 12 points
Clark had 12 first half points and zero in the second. His inconsistency on offense likely cost him minutes down the stretch and is troubling. When he’s shooting well – especially from deep- , he really helps the Cavaliers offense function at a higher level. He also, with Alonzo Gee likely bench bound for the foreseeable future, is the best wing defender on the Cavaliers roster.
PF Tristan Thompson – 26 minutes, 3-5 shooting, seven rebounds, seven points
Thompson, like Clark, was scoreless in the second half. And with Anthony Bennett playing maybe his most active and aware game of the season, Thompson spent a large portion of the final period on the bench. All in all, this is the kind of game that makes Thompson a frustrating player. We’ve seen him play well against the elite – Kevin Love, LaMarcus Aldridge and Blake Griffin – so why does he struggle against a player like Brandon Bass? On paper, Thompson should be owning this matchup on both ends. When he doesn’t, you can’t help but be a little bit miffed. Tomorrow, with a matchup against David Lee (who falls somewhere in-between the elite class and the average) should tell us a a lot about where he is at in his developmental curve.
C Anderson Varejao - 29 minutes, six points, 1-2 shooting, 4-4 from the line, eight rebounds
Varejao played okay in his first game back in the starting lineup. The Cavaliers look more fluid as a whole when he’s at center and, against teams like Boston who lack a massive center in the middle, he will preform fairly well. I’d like to see more shots out of the Brazilian, but with Irving really carrying the scoring load, that may not have been in the cards today.
G Jarrett Jack -
Jack was the best version of Jarrett Jack today. He played controlled basketball, made his jump shots and didn’t force too much. It’s a player that hasn’t been around since the Cavaliers defeated the Brooklyn Nets on opening night. His play – namely back-to-back threes as the Cavaliers made their fourth quarter comeback – kept the hopes of victory alive. This a Jack that is useful for the Wine & Gold.
Also deserving some praise are Dion Waiters, Bennett and Tyler Zeller. Waiters was again solid off the bench (17 points on 6-16 shooting) and you can’t hate on him too much for attacking the rim with Brandon Bass manning up on him. Bennett, playing possibly his best game so far, had nice dunk and playing with real effort. He was also one of three Cavaliers to finish with a positive +/- score. As for Zeller, he was roughed up a bit on the inside, but he did grab 10 rebounds and had three assists. His two of five shooting could have been better (as he missed at least one tip-in) but, all in all, this was a good game for Zeller and should give Brown some more confidence in giving Zeller minutes without Bynum.
Brown had a real challenge on his hands today and, as you may know, it had nothing to do with the game itself. With the Bynum news hanging over the teams head, this game could have been really distracted on the court today. For one quarter (the second) the Wine & Gold were but they rebounded very nicely in the second half and almost won the game. With all of the issues off the court right now, Brown had a team to there that played strongly and almost pulled out a game they were well on their way to losing. He also stuck with his bench guys when they deserved to stay on the floor ahead of the starters. For both of those things, Brown deserves a pat on the back.