They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.
The Cavaliers may not have had newly acquired Luol Deng yet Tuesday night against the 76ers, but they definitely didn’t need him on this night. CJ Miles put on a shooting display and the team offense was clicking in all aspects. The Cavs jumped out to 36-20 lead after the 1st quarter and they never looked back, cruising to a refreshing 111-93 win.
The Cavaliers are expected to have Deng on Friday in Utah as they kick off a 5 game road trip. This game against the Sixers is a great way to head out on the road and adding a player like Deng should give the team a nice boost.
Now let’s get into the numbers…
- 10 – Where else would we start than with CJ Miles and his 10 three pointers? Miles came out on fire in the first quarter scoring 15 points on 5-5 shooting from three. Miles was 8-10 in the first half and finished 10-14 from three for 34 points. You can’t say enough about the job CJ has done this season. There was talk about him working a lot on his game in the offseason, and it’s certainly nice to see his hard work paying off for him.
- 5 – The Cavaliers had 4 starters in double digit scoring and 5 players overall. Miles (34), Anderson Varejao (18), Kyrie Irving (16), Tristan Thompson (12), and Dion Waiters (12) all put up double digit points as the team offense seemed to be about as crisp as we’ve seen all season. The ball was moving, guys were working off the ball, and the scoring was distributed pretty evenly outside CJ’s stellar output.
- 29 – The Cavaliers had 29 assists on 89 shots as a team. Kyrie Irving had 8 assists and Dion Waiters had one of his best games as a distributor with 8 assists of his own. Matthew Dellavedova chipped in with 6 assists of his own. The Cavaliers did get a little sloppy from time to time with 18 turnovers (especially in the 2nd half where they had 13 of the turnovers), but the assists total speaks volumes to how well the whole team was moving the ball.
- 58 to 38 – The Cavaliers out rebounded the Sixers by a 58 to 38 edge. Tristan and Andy each had double-doubles and Anthony Bennett added 8 rebounds of his own off the bench. The Sixers play at the fastest pace in the NBA, and they did manage 17 fast break points, but the Cavaliers defense held the Sixers to just 39.5% shooting from the field and with the huge rebounding edge they were able to force the Sixers to play at the Cavaliers’ pace. The Cavaliers also had a 19 to 10 edge in 2nd chance points thanks to their rebounding efforts. When the Cavaliers are able to generate assists like this and combine that with this kind of rebounding effort, they can be a tough team. It’s just a matter of finding more consistency in both aspects.
- 4 – The Sixers’ leading scorers, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young, combined for just 4 points. Turner was 2 of 13 shooting for 4 points and Young was 0-7 from the field and was held scoreless for the first time since March 2011. Michael Carter-Williams was able to pick up some of the slack by scoring 33 points on 25 shots, but overall the Cavs defense was really able to force the Sixers to be a half court team, which limited Turner and Young’s chances to get going.
- Sigh – Anthony Bennett. I already mentioned Bennett’s 8 rebounds. If there’s one thing Bennett can hang his hat on this early into his career, it’s his rebounding. But once again, this game was mostly a disaster for the young rookie. In 18 minutes Bennett was 1-6 from the floor for 2 points with 4 fouls, 5 turnovers, and yet another missed dunk. Bennett had opportunities playing in garbage time, but he committed an offensive foul, turned the ball over a couple times, and missed a dunk. The fans at the Q started booing Bennett in a game in which the team was winning big. Bennett’s body language deteriorated and he was walking dejectedly up and down the court. It was ugly. I won’t condone the fans booing and I would never boo someone who plays for the team I root for. But I also understand the fans’ frustration and I’m discouraged by Bennett’s reaction to it. I still think the Cavaliers should send Bennett to Canton for a while and let him get his confidence back against lower competition and away from the wrath of the fans.
Overall this was one of the most complete games the Cavaliers have played all season. They were tough on defense, excellent on the boards, and the offense was about as sharp and selfless as we’ve seen all year. It’s a great confidence booster as the team hits the road for this trying road trip. But above all else, it’s a really nice spark of excitement for the addition of Luol Deng. I don’t really care who the opponent was. The Cavaliers have played horrible, uninspired games against plenty of bad teams this season. It was just nice to see the Cavaliers come out strong, build a bug lead, and not let the Sixers ever get back into the game whatsoever. It’s going to be fun to see how Deng can fit in with this team and where they go from here.
Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images