The Cleveland Cavaliers (10-15, 8-4 home) moved into eighth place in the Eastern Conference (playoffs!!!) with a 114-110 overtime win against the Milwaukee Bucks (5-21) Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The game definitely shouldn’t have been this close, but give it to the Bucks (I guess) for putting up a valiant effort by bringing themselves back into the game multiple times. Andrew Bynum didn’t have the game I thought he was going to, put Tristan Thompson came to play, which works just as well. He posted a double-double (10 points, 15 rebounds) and tipped in a Kyrie miss with less than two seconds to go to tie the game at 96. Nicely done, TT.
Key Play to the Game:
In back-to-back home contests, Kyrie Irving went to the hole with his team down two points, and the ball ended up in another player’s hands somehow. Different methods, same end-of-possession result. It looked like Irving was going to make good on this attempt (he opted to beautifully pass it off to Anderson Varejao against Portland three days earlier), but Tristan was there to swallow up the rebound and made good on the putback.
Wine & Gold MVP:
Kyrie Irving must love torturing Brandon Knight. And before I move on to talk about the night that Kyrie had, I would like to point out that Knight had one of the most sour looks on his face after his shot didn’t go in with Milwaukee up two and less than a minute remaining in the game. “Are you kidding me?!” Something like that. But Kyrie. He stood up to every challenge that he could Friday night, even though it should have never came down to it. Irving shot 11 of 15 (73.3 percent) within the arc through the first four quarters. He came up with a huge block down the stretch in the fourth quarter, and four overall (!!!). Yeah, he still wasn’t great defending the perimeter, but he logged another great shooting performance (52.0 percent from the field), almost scored 40 points (39), made 11 of 12 from the line and finished with six assists. Looks like Mr. Irving will be stringing back-to-back uber-impressive weeks.
The Cavs are funner to watch when Dion Waiters plays too, so there’s an entertainment factor that’s not in the boxscore, but should be.
— WayneEmbrysKids (@WayneEmbrysKids) December 21, 2013
#Cavs with a big to big interior pass. Rarer than a millionaire’s tears.
— Michael A. Young (@RealMYoung23) December 21, 2013
Typical Kyrie. Looks great on offense, then proceeds to have Brandon Knight blow by him for a bucket.
— Chris Manning (@cwmwrites) December 21, 2013
We may have HUGE hole at the 3, but Clark looking better as stretch 4 every time out.
— Kevin Fay (@cavsbeat) December 21, 2013
Every shot that the Cavs take I’m getting a heart attack
— Yoshi (@Air_Asian) December 21, 2013
Coach Brown Breakdown:
Brown didn’t look too pleased with the Cavaliers’ performance on Friday, and for good reasons. They weren’t destroying the Bucks on the boards as they should have and they consistently let Milwaukee back in the game after building up six or seven-point leads, but it wasn’t a lineup problem. And Dion was out too, which caused Brown to improvise some and play Jarrett Jack more (which worked). I don’t think Brown can do anything more than harp on the problems with perimeter defense that this team is having. I thought he managed the lineups well tonight, and as he said in the presser, he isn’t in charge of designing the offensive plays. So it was a well-coached game by Brown. Didn’t see too many holes in his game plan. Milwaukee was just a resilient squad tonight, and that happens from time to time with teams scrapping near the bottom.
The Cavaliers will travel to Chicago to face the downtrodden Bulls on Saturday. After downing the Derrick Rose-less Bulls at the Q in their past matchup, Cleveland needs to come out and slap Chicago right across the face from the onset. Jab, jab, jab. Friday was disappointing, as Milwaukee is a Central Division opponent that Cleveland shouldn’t have to struggle so much against. Dion was out, but Milwaukee was much more injury-riddled than the Wine & Gold. That’s why it’s important that Cleveland blows Chicago out of the water to prove that they’re a contender and not a pretender tomorrow. Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at United Center.