Apr 2, 2014; Orlando, FL, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) goes for a layup in front of Orlando Magic center Dewayne Dedmon (3) in the first half at Amway Center. Mandatory Credit: David Manning-USA TODAY Sports

Instant Reaction: Cleveland Cavaliers 119, Orlando Magic 98

 

Final Outcome:

The Cavs looked very much like a team that needs every win they can get from here on out, that was playing a team that has literally nothing left to play for this season. The Cavs used a 70-point 1st half to put this game to bed without much thought, as the disinterested Magic offered little resistance to the Cavs’ starters. By the time it was all over, the Cavs won by a comfortable margin, shot over 55 percent from the field, and had three players, Tristan Thompson, Spencer Hawes, and Dion Waiters, score at least 20 points.

Key Play to the Game:

It’s hard to pick one in a game that got this out of hand this quickly, but towards the end of the first quarter, Alonzo Gee stripped Doron Lamb, and Jarrett Jack picked it up, ran down court uncontested, and threw down a two-handed dunk that was completely unexpected. It was Jack’s second dunk of the year, and was a perfect encapsulation of this game. Jarrett Jack doing things he hasn’t done since last season, the Magic totally disregarding the idea of hustling back to defend the dunk attempt, and the Cavs stepping on the throat of an outmatched opponent. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Wine & Gold MVP:

While you could conceivably give this to the entire starting lineup, all of whom shot over 50 percent from the field in the first half, but you have to single out Spencer Hawes for this. Hawes did everything in the first half for the Cavs, generating the offense with both his scoring and passing. The Cavs noticed early that the Magic had no idea what they were doing defending a backdoor cut, and responded by routinely parking Hawes in the high post, drawing Nikola Vucevic away from the basket, and letting Hawes hit Luol Deng and Dion Waiters on cuts for easy baskets. When he wasn’t doing that, he was relishing in his pick-and-roll partner Kyrie Irving returning, stepping off screens and hitting 4-5 threes in the half. Hawes had 18 points in the first half to push the lead past 20. While he was quiet in the second half, he finished the game with 20 points, eight rebounds, and five assists and was a main reason the Cavs got to the point where Hawes barely played in the fourth quarter.

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Coach Brown Breakdown:

The adjustment to run the offense through Hawes was brilliant. The decision to aggressively attack the Magic’s perimeter players, and even unleashing a little full-court man-to-man in the first quarter, was even better. Brown took advantage of an overmatched coach in Jacque Vaughn, and an overmatched Magic roster, in order to play around with the offense and assimilate Kyrie Irving back into the lineup. He also pulled Kyrie at the right time in the fourth quarter, sensing the game was put away and making sure his star is ready for Friday. This was an easy game for the Cavs to win, and Brown did nothing that jeopardized that.

Up Next:

The Cavs will try to ride the momentum of winning four of their last five into a crucial matchup in Atlanta on Friday, as they attempt to avenge the double-OT heartbreaker in January against the Atlanta Hawks. The last matchup was one of the more interesting games of the season, and this one has high stakes, being must-win if the Cavs want to work their way into the playoffs.

Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers Dion Waiters Kyrie Irving Spencer Hawes Tristan Thompson

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