The Cavaliers entered tonight’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers polar vortex cold, having been victorious in only one of their last nine games but they were red-hot tonight. They defeated the 76ers, 11-93, behind the record-breaking shooting night of C.J. Miles. He set the franchise record for most made three-point field goals in a game, with 10. For the night, he had a team best 34 points. The Cavs dominated the contest from the opening tip to the final buzzer. Albeit against Philadelphia, but they still controlled every aspect of tonight’s game. Kyrie Irving made his first appearance of the New Year, after missing three games with a knee injury. He finished with 16 points and eight assists. The Wine and Gold, who rank last in the league in assists per game with 18.8, finished the game with 29 assists. The Cavs played real team basketball tonight and built themselves some momentum as they prepare to welcome Luol Deng and begin their annual West Coast trip.
KEY PLAY TO THE GAME
It would have been easy to make one of Miles’ 10 threes the key play but I am looking elsewhere tonight. With 9:20 left in the second quarter, Matthew Dellavedova found himself in an isolation situation against Philly’s Evan Turner. Delly played tight defense on Turner and forced a fall away 13 ft. jump shot, and then grabbed the rebound. Delly immediately turned for an outlet pass and heaved a pass down court to Dion Waiters, who was stationed about 30 ft. from the basket on the right side. Waiters started towards the basket but immediately spotted big-man Tyler Zeller, filling the lane during the fastbreak. Dion awarded the slashing Zeller with a perfect pass. Zeller did not even put the ball on the floor before throwing down a thunderous, two-handed dunk and drew a foul. To me, this was the key play for a few reasons. One, it was a great example of team basketball. As mentioned earlier, the Cavs finished with 29 team assists and this was my favorite one. Not only was the outlet pass by Dellavedova perfect, but his defense that led to the stop was great as well. And Dion making the pass to Zeller was a good sign. He knew that he probably could have taken the ball to the rim and score himself but instead, he made the extra pass and rewarded his hardworking seven-footer. The second thing this showed me was that Zeller deserves to continue seeing more minutes. After Bynum’s suspension, it was clear that somebody would have to fill the void his absence created. Zeller was naturally the next guy up. He has been making the most of his opportunity after being buried on the bench early on. His athleticism and hustle was exemplified tonight’s key play to the game.
WINE AND GOLD MVP
A no brainer here, C.J. Miles is the clear choice. He led the team with 34 points, on 10-14 three point shooting, and five rebounds. His +/- tonight was +32. Wow. In fact, every Cavalier starter finished with a positive +/- tonight (Yes, even Earl Clark). C.J.’s big night followed up his 21 point effort against the Pacers on Sunday. With the addition of Deng, there is a chance that Miles could see some of his minutes slashed, but after two solid performances in a row, C.J. is making a case to continue getting minutes. I would say that is a good problem for Coach Mike Brown to have.
Cavs rank dead last in APG (18.8) in the NBA this season. Through just over a quarter and a half, Cavs have 18 assists.
— Zak Kolesar (@Kolestarz) January 8, 2014
#Cavs lead by 23 at half. If this game comes down to last possession, as so many home games before it have, something went horribly wrong.
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) January 8, 2014
Amazing what facing a terrible defensive team that plays really fast can make your offense look like.
— Trevor Magnotti (@Tmagnotti) January 8, 2014
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) January 8, 2014
COACH BROWN BREAKDOWN
The Cavs jumped out to a big lead early and like stated earlier, they dominated all night long, meaning Coach Brown was not faced with a lot of difficult decisions tonight. Brown did make a good move early on getting Earl Clark off the floor, after a dismal start (have you heard that before?) and putting in Dion. As the lineup of Andy, Miles, Thompson, Irving and Dion peeled off a 20-3 run, Brown made a good call by sticking with it. Going into the fourth quarter, the Cavs had a 25-point lead. I liked how Brown kept C.J. on the floor and allowed him have the opportunity to sink more threes. It was a nice gesture by Brown. With the game all but decided with about five minutes left, he put Sergey Karasev, Carrick Felix, and Henry Sims on the floor and allowed those young guys to get minutes, which is good for their development.
The Cavaliers get set to embark upon a season long five game West Coast trip. The first game up is Friday, January 10th, against the Utah Jazz at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City. The Jazz head into the contest sitting in last place in the superb Western Conference, at 11-25. The match up between the two teams will be the first of the season, with their final matchup of the season coming on February, 28th at the Q. The game will also be Luol Deng’s debut in Wine and Gold. He will most likely start at small forward. Tipoff for Friday’s game will be at 9:00 p.m. EST.