What We Learned: Cavs vs Magic

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cleveland.com
cleveland.com

The Cavs were able to pull out an ugly one without Kyrie Irving. The Cavs 2nd half defense fueled the offense and got the win. Here’s what we learned.

Kevin Love’s great 1st quarter kept the Cavs in the game. Love had 13 points in the 1st quarter. Unfortunately, he never seems to keep this production up throughout the game which has been an issue all season long. Love was able to keep the Cavs in the game while the offense was struggling to find their rhythm. Without Love, the Cavs could’ve been down double digits at halftime.

The Cavs once again came out flat. They have a habit of starting out slow and lackadaisical. The Cavs can come back against inferior opponents, but that won’t work against good teams. The Cavs need to know that in the playoffs: this will not fly. They let the Magic shoot 60% and allowed 53 points in the 1st half, but the Cavs turned it on in the 2nd half and held the Magic to 36 points on only 39% shooting.

Dion Waiters is turning into the 6th man we all hoped he would be. His defense has really stepped up. He was the one Cavalier that showed effort throughout the entire game Friday night. He is hustling on both ends of the floor and energized the entire team. You can’t see your teammate work that hard on the defensive end of the floor and not give it your all as well. He finished the game with 3 steals and a block. Waiters also provides that much needed offense off the bench. His shot selection has also improved, but it’s not perfect, and probably won’t ever be, but that’s okay. He still settles for too many contested jumpers, but that’s a price we should all be willing to pay at this point.

Thompson is a starter. My CST colleague, Jake Shearman, doesn’t agree with me on this one, but I truly believe it. He came up with 13 huge rebounds including 6 offensive boards. Thompson controlled the paint in the 4th quarter without the help of Love who didn’t play the entire quarter. Thompson’s performance, especially in the 4th, gets lost with how well LeBron played down the stretch. Without Thompson the Cavs would’ve lost this game.

Even though Thompson played great, the Cavs still need another center. Blatt has no faith in Haywood and Amundson. Thompson and Love are power forwards, not centers. It’s hard to see the Cavs beating good teams in the future without playing a real center. Especially now, with Andy out, it’s time to turn those trade rumors into an actual trade.

Blatt isn’t afraid to stick with a lineup that works. He didn’t put Love in the game the entire 4th quarter. He stuck with the lineup of Delly, Miller, Waiters, LeBron, and TT down the stretch. Blatt is fortunate to have selfless superstars like Love that won’t complain when he doesn’t play in the 4th. Love was the biggest supporter on the bench, what an amazing sign that was. All those people doubting Love’s happiness can just be quiet now. Could Love be any more opposite then how Bynum was last year? I don’t think so. He says he wants to win. Well, he proved tonight that he wasn’t talking out of his ass. He really does just want to win.

LeBron can coast the first 3 quarters, and dominate the 4th. LeBron didn’t come out with the passion and intensity we would like to see, but he brought it when it counted. He had 15 points in the 4th quarter and stole this game from the Magic. He closed it out by scoring the last 8 points of the game. LeBron was able to get to the basket at will late in the final minutes. He also can make those unbelievable And 1’s that other players dream about making on a consistent basis. The Magic were no match for the King in the 4th quarter. He showed us he is still the best player on the planet when he wants to be. I just hope he starts showing up throughout the game more often.

@CST_JacksonF

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