Following three and a half quarters of solid basketball, it appeared as if the Cleveland Cavaliers were on their way to beating the Dallas Mavericks. But in a crumble we are used to only seeing in the fourth quarter, Cleveland fell apart down the stretch. Ultimately, the Cavaliers fell to the Mavericks, 96-86.
On a positive note, all five Cleveland starters scored in double figures, with Dion Waiters leading the way with 21 points. Rodrigue Beaubois led Dallas with 18 points off the bench.
The story of this game lies in the second half, specifically the fourth quarter. Through two quarters, Cleveland outscored the Mavericks by eight points. In the second half, Dallas cut the lead to one, while taking the lead and extending out to double digits in the fourth.
This trend of being unable to play four quarters of consistent basketball is starting to hold the Cavaliers back from winning games they otherwise would. Take tonight for example: Cleveland held full control for a large portion of the game and just looked like a team on a mission. But for whatever reason, that switch got turned off. They started settling for ugly shots and committed dumb turnovers on the fast break. The sad part is we’ve seen this play out time and time again.
The other issue for the Cavaliers tonight was the bench play. Dallas had three players score in double figures, while the Cavaliers had zero. Also, four of five Cavalier starts had a positive +/- score, while every bench player a negative +/- score in double digits.
This was a throwback to the first part of the season, when the bench was basically a whole other team. After the trade for Marresse Speights and Wayne Ellington (as well as the emergence of C.J. Miles and Shaun Livingston) it appeared as if the Cavaliers had figured their bench out. Tonight, that was not that case and it likely cost them the game.
Here are some key statistics from tonight’s game.
- Tristan Thompson and Luke Walton were the only Cavaliers to shot at or above 50 percent from the field.
- The Mavericks scored 36 points in the paint, while the Cavaliers had 36.
- The Mavericks scored 19 fast break points, while the Cavaliers only had 4.
- The Cavaliers were outrebounded 46-39.
- Daniel Gibson lead the bench with 22 minutes played. Luke Walton was second with 19 minutes played.
All in all, this is one of those games that really sums up the Cavaliers season. They were unable to keep their momentum going, were let down by the bench, and fell apart in the fourth quarter. Not one player on this roster played a complete game and not one player really brought it for the entire game.
Moving forward, this will hopefully serve as a learning experience. For a stretch, the Cavaliers were controlling against a team only three games out of the playoffs , only to blow it like they have so many times this season.
The Cavaliers will get no rest as they will travel to San Antonio to take on the Spurs tomorrow night. Tip-off is at 8:30 PM.