August 31, 2014

A glimmer of hope on a terrible road trip

Tristan and KyrieThe Cavaliers have played more games on the road so far this season than any other NBA team. Their record in those road games heading into last night’s game in Portland was 5-19. They had also lost the first three games of the current road trip, and had given up 237 points in those contests.

In other words, things weren’t looking very bright.

The Cavaliers came out hot however, and hung on to preserve a win against a playoff contending Portland team.

There was something in particular that gave me hope for things to come.

Kyrie Irving scored 31 points on 13 of 24 shooting. He added 5 assists and 4 steals to go with just 2 turnovers. It was a big rebound game for him having shot just 31.6% against the Kings on Sunday with 6 turnovers, 2 of them in crucial moments late in the fourth quarter.

Three of those assists were to Tristan Thompson. In two of those, Irving created an opening for Thompson with his dribble penetration and then dished off to Thompson for dunks. This combination, or chemistry, or whatever you want to call it is what Cleveland fans have been waiting to see.

Thompson has been playing at a higher level since the injury to Anderson Varejao. The numbers bear that out, and whether it is confidence or opportunity or a combination of the two, it is a positive sign for the future. In Portland, against former Cavalier J.J. Hickson (who is also having a much better statistical season) Tristan scored 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, 7 of which were offensive boards.

The best two players on the court for the Cavaliers on Tuesday night were clearly Irving and Thompson. They outperformed their counterparts from Portland, and were the difference late in the game to preserve the win.

Why is that a big deal?

It’s a big deal because Irving was selected first overall in the ’11 draft, and Thompson fourth.

This isn’t news, but if the Cavaliers are going to contend in the future, these two picks have to be at the nucleus of what the Cavs become. Against the Blazers, it looked like things are on schedule. Thompson is 21 years old. Irving will turn 21 at the end of March. Irving played his 81st NBA game last night. Thompson his 101st. A normal NBA season is 82 games in case you forgot. These guys are young.

And improving.

  • Jaker

    Gave up 237 points in three games? That’s not that bad. Unless there was a typo.

    Love what I’m seeing from Thompson recently. Irving, no surprise there. Waiters was bad last night, but he had 33 the previous game, so I’ll give the rook a pass. This team is definitely heading in the right direction, but I still think we need to trade Andy and pick up more young, valuable pieces and draft picks. Can we trade an injured player?

  • mgbode

    I count 335pts (98, 113, 118).

  • mgbode

    Irving’s 4th quarter last night was magical. TT nearly blew it with those missed FTs near the end, but then Irving picked him up. Felt like the end of games last year (and it was nice to see Irving put the rook Lillard in his place)

  • Jaker

    Excellent addition skills, sir. Maybe Rick meant 237 in the last two games?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    That’d be 231, but it’s close so maybe?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Really fun game to watch… I enjoyed it immensely. Irving and Thompson both had such good games. Tyler Zeller had a fantastic first half and a miserable second half… such a rookie. I tweeted during the game that he is still getting the same love from refs that he was getting an UNC. A lot of the charges that he draws are not charges at all, but for some reason refs love to hook Zeller up. My college team lost to UNC two years ago because Zeller took a charge while standing directly under the basket, but that arc under the hoop didn’t exist for college basketball at that time and he got that referee love. Hated him then, love him now… figures. Luke Walton was owning that Triple Threat position… no one rocks the Triple Threat like LW.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    That was indeed a fun game but then again most games in Portland are that way for some reason, at least to me. Nonetheless it’s nice to see the youthful core (Irving-Thompson-Zeller-Waiters) leading this team. I like Miles and of course my man Gee but after that there is a huge dropoff.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I agree, I think we’re really starting to see exactly what we have to work with moving forward. Those guys and Andy V are the only ones who seem to have assured a spot. Waiters’ percentages are still awful and he’s way too inconsistent, but I have to think he will improve with more experience. He’s had some huge games this year and the talent is certainly there… just needs to learn. One more big piece from the draft and some free agents could definitely make the Cavs a playoff team next season (barring a major injury or string of injuries to Kyrie Irving).

  • http://twitter.com/RickWFNY rick grayshock

    That’s what I get for trying to write from my phone. Yes, the math skills were lacking here.

  • Jaker

    113+
    124=
    237

    It’s incredible that one simple math equation has gained this much attention.

  • mgbode

    imagine if we had to also subtract something.

  • mgbode

    you wrote that whole thing from your phone?

  • Wow

    So we have a point guard, a big man developing his game, and a rookie shooting guard improving. Now we just wait for 2014 and a certain free agent! (Sarcasm)

  • http://twitter.com/RickWFNY rick grayshock

    Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Wow… something is wrong with me.