The Cavs pushed their win streak to six as they beat the Orlando Magic 93-101. The Cavs were dominant the first two quarters before not waking up out of their half time naps in the third quarter. Thankfully, three quarters of success is usually enough to protect against the quarter you acted as if basketball games were only 36 minutes long.
The beginning of this game I was really scared it would be a 75-76 final result. Neither team located the basket as fans pointed to it for a solid two straight minutes wondering if there might be a sheet of plexiglass surround it. The Cavs were getting wonderful shots the whole quarter taking open threes and right next to the basket shots and put backs. Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson ran the court the whole quarter essentially making the game four on two for much of the time. This resulted in two epic dunks near the end on the break.
We held the Magic to just 11 for the first quarter and much of this was due to Tyler Zeller being a serious shot deterring force on purpose. A lot of times I feel like Tyler is just getting in the way of people because he doesn’t know where his man is, but he was looking to block anything that came by him. He’s been studying some tapes of what happens in the paint for sure.
The second quarter had more of the dominating defense that started in the first. At times, it was hard to tell if the Magic liked taking mid-range shots or if we forced them to do that. Does it matter? Anthony Bennet, much like the Cavs as a whole, discovered that getting to the rim and being fouled gets you points much more than taking jump shots. It was nice to see him draw two fouls during his quick stint in the second quarter.
Tyler Zeller continued his previously projected skill show making a 17 footer and trying to finish a dunk on a Kyrie drop off down under. The Cavs kept taking assisted looks or getting fouled off off nice passes to keep the lead at 19, and Kyrie made a ridiculous 30 foot three off isolation to end the quarter on a good note.
The third quarter started off how it should. The Cavs were driving looking to get points off of layups. Kyrie used a Zeller pic to split two defenders and get an And 1 for the first score of the quarter. A minute later Zeller got the ball on the low block and was able to get it to a 10 foot out Tristan Thompson. Thompson faked and then drew another And 1 for the quarter to put the Cavs up 21.
Then the quarter started to fall apart; we decided to take a lot of midrange jumpers that weren’t going in. The Magic decided to use pick and rolls to get open threes for Tobias Harris to cut the deficit to fifteen in thirty seconds. They kept on hitting their shots as the Cavs turned over or bricked for a solid two minutes to let the Magic get within ten.
The quarter featured a lot of set plays from the Cavs. This isn’t our strength and it showed as we were unable to generate points and our defense couldn’t get us any stops to run off of to have any scoring confidence. We ended only by the number of cheese burgers Anthony Bennet dreams of each night: four.
The fourth quarter had two big moments. They were both very personal, personal fouls that is. CJ Miles drove to the hoop recklessly getting fouled like a lady jogger getting hit by a fellow jealous SUV driving housewife. After taking a few minutes to get up, he made his free throws before leaving the game injured.
Then Anthony Bennet chased down Tobias Harris after he stole a pass to stop the free two points. He set the tone to hustle on defense, and it’s nice to see him realizing if he isn’t scoring he can still do a lot to change the game.
Much of the quarter we traded baskets with Orlando, but with two minutes left Aaron Affalo hit an And 1 to put the Magic within 2. Zeller responded by getting an offensive board and getting the And 1 to put us back up by 5.
Jarret Jack then stole a poor Jameer Nelson pass. Jack entry passed to Tristan Thompson who found a posted up Deng. Deng than passed to Jack who found a cutting Kyrie who then found a now corner three Deng. Deng nailed the shot to put us up by eight and seal the game.
-On the above mentioned play, it was amazing to see Kyrie pass the ball to Deng for the three. Kyrie is starting to trust other players to take the big shots. Earlier in the season, he would have tried to take the ball into the three defenders by the rim.
-Kyrie seemed interested in defense. He was literally touching his man’s jersey centimeters away from a hand check foul much of the game.
-Tristan Thompson is getting double-doubles without having to post. He’s running and get the points easily, which is what Tristan needs to do until his post moves develop more.
-Tyler Zeller is going to be a wonderful partner for Kyrie Irving if he can keep making his 17 footers. As Zeller’s man helps out on Kyrie pick and rolls the elbow jumper is wide for him to do work. Zeller is also going to be a decent shot blocker if he keeps tracking the ball how he did tonight. He isn’t leaving his feet before his man does and seems to focusing on the ball rather than the players face. His line was the best of the night: 4/5 for 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, and 3 blocks. That’s packing a heavy box score with no area left unfilled.
Tyler is making his D face a lot more lately.
-Kyrie is scoring points without being the hero. The team plays better when Kyrie is getting his points quietly because everyone is playing. Sometimes, the Cavs have a habit of joining the crowd when Kyrie dazzles.
-Kyrie ran the team. He did so figuratively as he led them with his poise making important shots, and literally as he pushed Tyler and Tristan to get down the down the floor and get easy dunks. 4 on 2 is always better than legitimate 5 on 5 ball for these young guys.