There are games where the Cavaliers appear to be out of sync on offense, launching up ill-advised jumpshots and not creating for one another. And then there are games like Tuesday night where the team creates for one another, leading to easy buckets both in the paint and from three-point land.
The Cavs played a defensive game that Mike Brown would grade as “okay,” but the story of the night was the offensive end as the Cavaliers recorded assists on 38 of their 47 field goals, leading to the 113-101 win over Toronto.
“It was a good win,” said Brown. ”We just have to keep trying to get better and keep trying to continue to build on that edge that we have. No matter who plays, hopefully, we can continue to use these games as high-level practice games because I think it will help us down the stretch.”
Leading up to the game, there were a lot of questions surrounding how Brown would handle the rotations over the final five games. If this game was any indication, it is status quo when it comes to minutes played as all five starters were featured predominantly. Shooting guard Anthony Parker, the only player to have started all 78 games this season, put up his best game as a member of the Cavaliers by scoring 18 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds and six assists.
Parker played it cool, however, stating that he is just glad to be able to capitalize on the opportunity.
“I had a couple of good looks and they went down,” said Parker. “I got a couple of layups that got me going a little bit. A lot of my shots are created by other people. It makes it easy in a sense, but it also makes it tough sometimes when you have to go however many minutes without touching it, and then when it comes to you, you have to be ready to shoot.”
When asked if Parker’s role in the game was by design or if it just occurred within the flow of the offense, Mike Brown stated that it was fully the latter.
“AP is a guy that we don’t call plays for, said Brown. ”Every once in a blue moon, he just plays off of whomever is on the floor with him and he does a terrific job of that.”
Brown would later praise Parker’s ability to be a team player while still finding the opportunity to contribute on offense when asked.
“It’s a hard thing to do when you don’t get many plays called. But when your guy goes to double team or your guy helps off of you and you get a pass that’s on time, on target from a guy like LeBron, and it’s one of the three shots you may get for the game, you [have to] knock it down. He has done a terrific job of filling his role and we usually put him on the better offensive players most of the game defensively. He has his hands full with his job everyday and he gets it done.”
Despite his terrific play, Parker was not alone on the night. Forward Antawn Jamison lead the way with 20 points, 12 of which were in the third quarter. Both LeBron James and Mo Williams notched double-digit assists with 13 and 12, respectively. Three other Cavaliers recorded double-digit points with Anderson Varejao returning off of the bench for 10 and Jawad Williams contributing 13 with three three-point field goals.
Through the first three quarters, the Cavaliers had recorded assists on 34 of their 38 field goals. Also at one point in the third, the Cavs had doubled Toronto in terms of points in the paint, 52-26.
The Raptors were paced by point guard Jarrett Jack who finished with 23 points and six assists off of the bench. Overall, the Toronto starters struggled with Chris Bosh leaving the game after two minutes thanks to a facial trauma that forced him to be hospitalized. Point guard Jose Calderon went 2-of-8 from the floor, tallying five points. Forward Antoine Wright was 3-of-9 before he was also forced to leave with an ankle injury.
Athletic forward Amir Johnson joined Jack off of the bench, tallying 16 points (7-of-8 shooting) and 10 rebounds.
“As silly as this may sound, with Chris going down, it creates an opportunity for somebody to step up,” said Jack following the game. “You might have been wanting that playing time all season. You have an opportunity to do something with it and come through for our team because we’re going to need somebody to step up and fill that void if he’s not able to go.”
Four games remain for the Cavaliers as they head to Chicago for the first game of a back-to-back set. After Thursday’s games, the Bulls are one full game behind the Raptors for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. Mike Brown continues to tout a plan that he has for providing rest for certain players. Exactly when that plan takes place remains to be seen.
(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)