This one hurt. With Luol Deng facing his old team–who happen to have the League’s second-worst offense statistically–for the first time since being traded, the Cavaliers showed no life on defense and struggled to make their shots down the stretch (sans Dion Waiters). The third quarter was particularly excruciating to watch, as the Bulls outscored Cleveland by 10 in the aforementioned frame. All in all, D.J. Augustin made Kyrie Irving look like a fool on defense, as he led his Chicago Bulls to a 98-87 victory over the Wine & Gold. Where do you go from here if you’re the Cavs?
Key Play to the Game
With 5:50 remaining in the contest, the Cavaliers were (somehow) only down by three points against the Bulls. Yeah, the Wine & Gold should have blown the Bulls out of the water from the onset, but the defensive effort put forth by Cleveland was truly pathetic, and ultimately resulted in a loss. Following a Cavaliers timeout, Chicago point guard D.J. Augustin continued to tear apart the Cleveland offense. Finding Joakim Noah for the dunk to put Chicago up 81-76, Cleveland never really stood a chance down the final stretch. Augustin finished the final six minutes of the fourth quarter with four assists, hit two threes, made all four of his free throw attempts and found Mike Dunleavy wide open for the official dagger to give Chicago a 96-87 lead with 38 seconds remaining.
Wine & Gold MVP
Yes, at one point Kyrie Irving did hit three straight three-pointers in the second quarter to bring the Cavaliers to within three points of the Bulls after trailing Chicago early on in the first half. And even after that he made two more threes to give Cleveland a one-point advantage heading into halftime. So yes, Uncle Drew, who will most likely be named an All-Star starter, did account for all of Cleveland’s 15 points during a 15-8 Wine & Gold run, but he was absolutely horrendous on the defensive end. Because of his effort on defense against the sub-par fill-in point guard D.J. Augustin, the MVP of tonight for the Cavs goes to Anderson Varejao. Did you see some of the things he was doing on the court to help out his team and to dazzle Cleveland fans? Check it via SBNation:
Varejao finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds (seven offensive), and held opposing center Joakim Noah to 3 of 7 from the field. Yeah, the Chicago guards got theirs, but it could have been a hell of a lot worse if Noah was ripping apart Andy down low. I repeat, it could have been worse than a 98-87 loss.
Breaking News – Thibs sort of smiled https://t.co/MAiu60brj8
— Big Cat (@BarstoolBigCat) January 23, 2014
I can’t watch games where DJ Augustin plays against the Cavs. pic.twitter.com/pOSVrDdPBQ
— Demetri I. (@demeatloaf) January 23, 2014
Irving has #Cavs last 15 points, all on 3ptrs. I’d say that qualifies as a hot streak
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) January 23, 2014
yep. RT @NickFriedell: Man, the Cavs are brutal.
— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) January 23, 2014
I get emails: “An advanced look at Irving’s defensive stats”. pic.twitter.com/MGLVhEZG8d
— realcavsfans.com (@realcavsfans) January 23, 2014
Cleveland will play their third home game in a row against the lowest of the low in the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks. The last time Milwaukee came to town, things were much different in Cavalier land. Despite missing Dion Waiters’ scoring off of the bench, Cleveland was a few games away from losing Andrew Bynum for the season because of his “attitude.” Yes, the Cavaliers did escape with an overtime victory over the Bucks just over a month ago, but there’s new life in the Cleveland locker room. With Waiters back and Luol Deng starting at the 3, Cleveland needs to come out and pummel the Bucks. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. this Friday at the Q.