Talk about a boring game. But boring in the best way ever.
The Cavaliers were ready to play from the start in this one, and they never let up as they absolutely crushed the Magic by a 119-98 score. This one had a little bit of everything and everyone. Kyrie Irving came back and played well, Dion Waiters just kept doing what he’s been doing, Spencer Hawes had his best game in a while, and Tristan Thompson had a double-double. So yeah, it was a good game.
With every win the Cavaliers continue to keep the playoff hunt interesting. The Knicks and Hawks are virtually tied for the 8 seed, with the Cavs lingering just two games back. The Cavs’ chances would be a lot better if they were only chasing one team instead of two of them, but still, with six games left to play, this thing isn’t over yet.
Now lets look at a few numbers…
- 17/8/6 – Welcome back Kyrie Irving! With some of the more ridiculous talk recently focusing on Kyrie and whether the Cavaliers were somehow better without him, it was nice to see Kyrie return and fit right in with how the team has been playing lately. Kyrie was pushing the ball whenever he could, was attacking the glass for rebounds, and most importantly, was setting up his teammates and rewarding them for cutting to open space. Kyrie finished with 17 points on 7-8 shooting with 8 assists and 6 rebounds. The only down side was his 4 turnovers, but hey, no need to be picky on his first game back
- 20-10 – Tristan Thompson has been much maligned this season. Inconsistency, a lack of development, frustrating possessions on both ends of the court. So it’s always nice to see Tristan have a big game. Thompson was extremely active off the ball, cutting to the basket and getting fed the ball in a couple alley-oop situations. He finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds for yet another double-double.
- 26 points – Dion Waiters led everyone with 26 points. Five Cavaliers had double digits, but nobody had more than Dion. Dion was 3-for-3 from three point range, showing confidence in his shot. But most importantly of all, Dion started. And in doing so, he played a lot of minutes on the floor with Kyrie. And the two young guards looked comfortable together. It seems like a small thing, but it’s not.
- 64 to 32 – Look, the Cavaliers outplayed the Magic in literally every aspect of this game. They shot better, had more rebounds, more assists, fewer turnovers, more fastbreak points, etc, etc, etc. These are the games where it can be hard to write about because, well, there was no conflict. The Cavaliers looked like the better team, they played like the better team, and they pretty much dominated every stat in the box score. But perhaps the most lopsided stat is the 64 to 32 edge the Cavaliers had on points in the paint. The Magic interior defense was an absolute joke in this game, and there was no help rotation for them as the Cavs kept cutting to the rim and pushing the pace all night.
- 25 to 6 – Similarly, the Cavaliers also held a huge 25 to 6 edge on fastbreak points. The Cavaliers, led by Kyrie Irving, were really trying to push off every turnover and every missed shot. The Magic just didn’t look like a team that cared too much about winning as the Cavs fastbreak ran circles around them.
So now the Cavaliers come to their biggest game of the season this Friday. The team heads to Atlanta to play the Hawks. A win there will put them just one game behind the Hawks with five to play.
I remember how the Indians rallied together and won their last 10 games of the season to get in the playoffs. Can the Cavaliers summon a similar common bond to create a magical finish to the season? The games are all winnable for the Cavaliers. The odds are long, but for the first time in what feels like forever, we might experience fun games in April. Buckle up, fans. This Friday’s game will tell story.