For three plus quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers were able to hang with the New York Knicks. While the lead stayed around nine for the majority of the game, there were points where the Cavaliers were able to cut the lead down and appear read to make a move.
But, as has become the norm this season, Cleveland was unable to move forward and get back in the thick of it. The game was sealed when the Knicks pulled ahead by 20 with a little over 8 minutes to go. When both teams pulled out their top players, the Cavaliers got the lead down to 10, eventually falling by a score of 101-91.
Kyrie Irving led the Cavaliers with 31 points, while Tristan Thompson added 17 points and 11 rebounds. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith co-lead the Knicks with 31 points.
For the Cavaliers, this game was another example of the fact they have a long way to go before they are ready to compete the East’s elite. After the first quarter, the only Cavalier to have his offensive mojo was, predictably, Irving. And even Irving was inefficient – only making 11 of 27 shots in his 36 minutes of action.
For the game, the Cavaliers shot 43 percent from the field as compared to New York’s 50.6 percent. The Knicks top to scorers, Anthony and Smith, were largely efficient on the offensive end. Anthony was 12 of 24 from the field, while Smith was 13 of 16.
There were, however, some positives signs for this Cavaliers teams. The Cavaliers equaled the Knicks’ six fast break points and scored 38 points in the paint as compared to the Knicks 32.
What won the Knicks the game was their overall shooting and offensive fluidity. Lead by Anthony and Smith’s offensive output, the Knicks were far superior to the Cavaliers on offensive. There was purpose to their offensive attack and no wasted shots. They attacked the rim, made a fair portion of their three point shots and were efficient from the free throw line. This game was the Knicks at their finest and a glimpse of what this team needs to do in order to make a deep run the playoffs.
For Cleveland, this game was just another game in a lost season. There are some serious flaws in the Cavaliers and tonight showed that. Moving forward, Irving cannot be the only offensive threat and it is completely unacceptable for Tyler Zeller for score zero points in 21 minutes of action. There is serious work to be done for this Cavaliers team to get actually be competitive with the league’s athletes.
Over the next three games, we’ll have to see what kind of effort the Cavs will put forth. Can they win at least one game when they take on the Miami Heat, Charlotte Bobcats and Philadelphia 76ers? At least two of those game are winnable and one should really be no problem for the Cavaliers to win.
But in all seriousness, it is a good thing that this Cavaliers season is winding down to its slow, bitter end. Only then can the Cavaliers, their front office and the fan base focus on what matters most: the 2013 NBA Draft.