If you are like me, you shut off the Cavs a few months ago and had no plans of turning them back on. Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson were hurt, the losses were piling up, and it seemed like they’d be competitive for three quarters and then you’d check the final score the next morning only to find that they’d lost by 16. The season is winding down, and with no playoffs in sight, the Cavs have every right to go quietly into the night. But they aren’t.
The return of Kevin Love seems to have re-energized the Cavs, and it happened to show up at the perfect time. Collin Sexton is consistently having the best games of his young career. Cedi Osman is becoming a player who people OUTSIDE of Cleveland have heard of, and Jordan Clarkson can score points like nobody’s business. Add in Larry Nance Jr’s prolific dunking, Cleveland hero Matthew Dellavedova and probably the nicest guy in the world Channing Frye, and you’ve got something not only worth watching but something worth loving.
From the last few games, I’ve seen hustle, emotion and the players having fun playing basketball. They may be outgunned against some opponents, but the Cavs will never be the team that quits. They wear their emotions on their sleeves, well they would if they had sleeves. Last night the Cavs put a pummeling on the 2nd best team in the NBA, the Toronto Raptors. It was amazing to behold. Every time the Raptors would get a few buckets and start to get momentum, they’d get a big 3 pointer, or a steal, or Kevin Love would take a charge, and we’d seize the game right back.
The Raptors emotions boiled over when Serge Ibaka, after flopping next to Marquese Chriss, hopped up and attempted to choke Chriss in a fight that led to both players getting ejected for throwing punches. I expect that the league will only fine Ibaka, though, as his actions against Chriss were way out of line. At that point, Austin Carr warned the viewers that with a comfortable lead, and the emotional outburst with the fracas, the Cavs couldn’t let down. And they didn’t. In the fourth quarter, they outscored the Raptors 35-24 and kept their feet on the gas, as well as the throats of the Raptors.
The defining moment of the game came for me when Kevin Love threw one of his signature outlet passes 2/3 of the way down the court to Cedi Osman, who caught it, scored it, all while being fouled by two time defensive player of the year Kawhi Leonard. Kevin threw his arms in the air, and looked back at the bench beaming, holding up 1 finger yelling “we got one!” referring to a few long passes that got away. The emotion and teamwork that the Cavs are playing with are fun to watch, the team is very likable, and you’d like to think that LeBron James, on an outpost in Los Angeles, on a team full of questions, is watching and wishing he’d stuck around for this.
The biggest problem with the team right now is picking a favorite. I’d love to buy one of the black jerseys, but I couldn’t figure out whose name to put on the back. Kevin Love is the emotional leader of the team. Matthew Dellavedova is a heroic figure. Colin Sexton is a budding star. Cedi Osman is starting to reach the next level. Larry Nance Jr. is Cleveland Royalty. I’m really not sure which direction to go.
So during the next month, while you are waiting for baseball to start back up, and the Browns to sign some free agents, don’t forget to watch these Cavs, make it to the Q (tickets are cheap!) and support these guys who really are working their butts off right now. You’ve got 15 chances left.