What We Learned: Cavs vs Clippers

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The Cavs played a complete game Friday night and were able to finish the sweep of the LA teams. These are the type of games we envisioned the Cavs winning in the beginning of the year. There were a lot of positive things to take away from this one. Here’s what we learned.

The Cavs can play and win an up-tempo game. I’ve criticized the Cavs before for not playing a faster pace on offense before. That wasn’t the case Friday night. The Cavs finished with 24 fast break points and were pushing the tempo the whole game. I hope they continue to play at this quicker tempo. They showed us all how they can light up the score board if they do. They also showed us how Blatt’s hybrid Princeton offense is supposed to work. Both are great things to see.

Numbers can be deceiving. The Cavs gave up 121 points, but the defense didn’t play badly. I am not saying the Cavs defense played well, but their defense was better than the final score indicates. They were able to hold the Clippers to 47% from the field. They still struggle with covering the 3 point shot, but fortunately it didn’t come back to bite them. You saw intensity and hustle from the Cavs on the defensive end of the floor throughout the game, not just a quarter. Marion and Delly also provided great defense at the end of the game.

Every now and then we see a glimpse of how good Tristan Thompson can be. He came up with 12 boards and 24 points on 10-12 shooting. He’s had games like this before, but he can’t do it on a consistent basis yet. We all saw how good he can be, though. He did a great job of filling the role of Kevin Love. If he wants that huge contract he thinks he’s worth, he’ll have to keep playing like this.

Delly can make critical free throws at the end of the game. After blowing the game against the Sixers by missing a couple costly free throws, he redeemed himself by knocking down  some clutch free throws at the end of this one. Good job Delly.

Kyrie Irving was the best player on the floor Friday night. He finished the game with 37/5/4 while shooting 12-18 from the field. He was also killing it from deep and knocked down 5-7 from 3. The best part about his game Friday night was his aggressiveness. He was able to play aggressively and also to share the ball with LeBron, even when they were both having good games. When Kyrie and LeBron play like they did Friday night, there are few teams in the league that can beat them. He also held Chris Paul to 15 points on 4-15 shooting. It was an all around great game from Kyrie. I believe it was his most complete game of the year.

LeBron can cover Blake Griffin. He did a great job of defending Griffin in the post when he was asked to. This is the first time this season we’ve really seen LeBron play and defend the 4 like he did in Miami. I believe LeBron is most effective on the offensive end as a 4. We all saw that Griffin had absolutely no chance of defending LBJ. I hope to see the Cavs use him at the 4 more often as the season progresses and the playoffs come around.

David Blatt can win us a game. This game showed me a lot about Coach Blatt. It showed he wasn’t afraid to make a bold decision that could be criticized. He started intentionally fouling DeAndre Jordan halfway through the 3rd quarter and sending him to the foul line. It worked out brilliantly! The Clippers were beginning to pull away from the Cavs at the time, but fouling them slowed down their offense and got them out of their rhythm. The Cavs were able to catch up and take the lead in the beginning of the 4th. Blatt did exactly what great coaches do, he found a way to keep his team in the game when it appeared to be slipping away. He also drew up a great inbounds play at the end of the game that got TT a wide open dunk in the middle of the paint. That even drew a point from LeBron. That’s something we all like to see. Great job coach.

The Cavs will be back in action Monday night against the Bulls. Let’s see if they can sustain this success.

@ CST_JacksonF

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