The Cleveland Cavaliers (9-14) put up a valiant effort against the Miami Heat (17-6) at American Airlines Arena despite being down almost 20 at one point. This narrative sounds somewhat familiar to what Cavs fans would read in the blogosphere last season: Cleveland goes up big, lets up and loses in embarrassing fashion. Here’s how the narrative went this time: Cleveland goes down big, fights back against the defending champs and can’t complete the incredible comeback over the final five minutes of the game. Same result, but this team is proving that they can look adversity in the face, put it behind their back and play their asses off, all in the same game. I don’t like making victories out of losses, but this was indeed a moral victory for Cleveland in many ways. This 114-107 loss is a step in the right direction as far as road games go.
Key Play to the Game:
Everything went south at the 7:13 mark. It was disturbing to watch, but with a lineup consisting of Jack/Waiters/Dellavedova/Bennett/Varejao (really?!), things weren’t going to stay close for long. They posted respective +/‐ numbers of ‐7, ‐15, 0, ‐5 and ‐9 in the first half. It’s not like other guys were doing much better, but these guys had only combined for 48 total minutes and shared 5:25 of court time together; enough to ruin Cleveland’s fantastic offensive start to the game. Yes, Brown did notice when things were taking a turn for the worse and called a timeout down 48‐42, but the Miami run had already begun. After turning over the ball six times in the first quarter, Cleveland continued to cough up the rock eight more times in the following frame. That’s what eventually wiped out any effort that the team put forth in the first 17 minutes of the game. Cleveland had gotten out to a great start, something that had been missing in Cleveland’s road contests thus far. But all of that was forgotten by the time head coach Mike Brown went berserk on the refs after a no‐call on Tristan Thompson. At the 3:14 mark, with Cleveland now down 11, Brown was called for the double technical and sent to the showers. Turnovers deflated this team, and Brown’s ejection subsumed the frustration building up on the Cavs front after Miami’s quick turn of the tables.
This was the key play to the game before Cleveland went on a furious third quarter run. The Cavs trailed by as much as 19 in this contest, but after Brown’s ejection, this team huddled up around step‐in head coach Jim Boylan and listened intently. Last year, this team would have just called it quits and mailed it in over the final 24‐plus minutes. Instead, they outscored the Heat in the third quarter by 12 points and fought neck and neck with them in the final frame. It was unbelievable the effort I was seeing from those dressed in Wine & Gold Saturday night. Dion was attacking the hole like a veteran, Earl Clark was making his presence known with his speed on both ends of the court and Delly was the same Delly that we’ve seen all season that I refuse to recognize. Tonight made me a true believer. This team showed heart against one of the best teams in the League, and that’s all we can ask for after being smothered and looking down and out for good. Cleveland may have had a chance if it weren’t for the 14 turnovers in the first half. The Cavs only coughed up the ball once in the final 24 minutes.
Wine & Gold MVP:
The one guy that I’ve given the most crap on this website this year over minutes is Matthew Dellavedova. I am now on the #DellyForPrez bandwagon. This man was all over the court in his 15 minutes of play, defending everyone from Dwyane Wade to Ray Allen. He then hit a key corner three‐pointer from 24 feet out to tie the game at 91 with 8:40 remaining in the game. He finished with five points, four rebounds and one steal, while making both of his attempts from the field. Like RDE writer Kevin Stankiewicz pointed out in his piece on Delly today, the stat sheets aren’t padded. You need to watch the games to realize Delly’s worth. You could definitely see it on the court in Miami Saturday night.
Best 3 point shooting since that game against the Clippers in like 2009
— WayneEmbrysKids (@WayneEmbrysKids) December 15, 2013
Might want to defend those. RT @Tmagnotti: Bosh 18-footers. Yikes
— Trevor Mistlenottoe (@Tmagnotti) December 15, 2013
That is a complete and total joke. How is it possible?!
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) December 15, 2013
Mike Brown has just been ejected. I’ve never seen him so hot. He was halfway out on court barking at officials
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) December 15, 2013
I saw more heart and hustle in the last 12 minutes than over the past 3 years. 84-80 Cavs right there with the Heat headed to the 4Q.
— Eric Knappenberger (@CavsWITNESS) December 15, 2013
Coach Brown Breakdown:
Let’s just all bask in the glory that is one of the fieriest ejections I have seen from an NBA coach in a while over a call that could have gone either way. Anyways, kudos to you, Coach Brown. The officiating was crap before this call. Moment of silence for the Brown ejection, please:
The Cavaliers will face another top team in the NBA when the Portland Trail Blazers (20‐4) come to Quicken Loans Arena for a Tuesday night matchup. It’s always fun seeing premier point guards duel, because that’s when it seems that Kyrie Irving brings it the most. With Damian Lillard (averaging 20/6/4) on the opposite side of the court from Irving, and the fact that he’s been on with his shot as of late, could mean that this could be a home game where Cleveland plays a Western Conference foe hard until the end, and WINS!