The Cleveland Cavaliers gave the Memphis Grizzlies a run for their money in their second-to-last road game of the season, but came up short in the fourth quarter, which led to a 109-101 Cleveland defeat. In an attempt to cool down the red-hot Grizzlies, who are winners of their last five games, the Cavaliers young guards stepped up big, but couldn’t give an answer to the Memphis defense down the stretch.
Opening up the first half with a 19-point performance, Kyrie Irving has proven so far that he can make an impact by playing in these final and meaningless games. Irving scored a game-high 25 points while shooting 62.5 percent from the field and recording three steals. Honestly, Irving has made a last-second surge to the top of the Rookie of the Month talks with only playing in five games so far in April.
Cleveland guards Manny Harris and Donald Sloan also turned in pretty solid stat lines coming off the bench. Harris, who looks more and more comfortable on the court with each passing game, scored 11 points and picked up three steals, bringing his average over the past three games to 14.7 points. Harris has definitely made a name for himself within the Cavs organization this past month.
Sloan has been heading the opposite way of Harris. Sloan used to be a mixture in the starting lineup, but not producing enough led head coach Byron Scott to send him back to the bench. Sloan did kind of help his stock for next season against Memphis, scoring nine points and committing no turnovers on offense. However, it was the Grizzly guards that looked more comfortable and experienced at FedExForum on Monday.
Memphis guards Tony Allen, Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo and familiar face Lester Hudson combined for 48 points, 13 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 steals against the Cavaliers. On the other side, Irving, Sloan, Harris and Anthony Parker, the four Cleveland guards, proved worthy opponents for Memphis.
The group combined for a total of 50 points, 11 assists, eight rebounds and seven steals. The Wine and Gold guards combined for 43.7 percent of the shots taken by Cleveland on Monday night. The Memphis guard core combined for 45.7 percent of the shot selection.
Minus Hudson, who has just recently joined the Grizzlies after parting ways with the Cavs, Cleveland has something to look up to in the Memphis guards. If all things go as planned the Cavaliers will have five or six formidable guards fighting for four or so spots on the roster next season. Games like this one shows me that, despite the need for a wingman, our guard game has depth.
Overall the Memphis starting five overwhelmed the Cavaliers near the end of the first and second half. With all of their starters scoring 12 or more points the Grizzlies definitely had the advantage as soon as they walked on the floor Monday night. If it wasn’t for the Cavaliers never-give-up attitude, Memphis would’ve ran away with this game.
Picking up their 40th win Monday night to stay at fifth place in the Western Conference was a huge deal for the Grizzlies, even if they were facing a far less superior team in the Cavaliers. The final stretch is (most likely) approaching for some Cleveland players, and with only two games left it looks like Cleveland could be seeing a whole new makeover for next season.
I wish Antawn Jamison and Parker the best of luck these next two games as it may be the last time that Cleveland fans see these tough veterans in a Wine and Gold uniform. If your days are numbered, make the most out of them.