They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.
If at first you don’t succeed, then try, try, try, and try again. The Cavaliers couldn’t take care of the 76ers in Philadelphia on Friday, couldn’t finish them off in regulation on Saturday, nor could they in overtime, but finally in the game’s second overtime Kyrie Irving put the dagger in the hearts of Philly. The 76ers ran Spencer Hawes to the top of the key on Kyrie’s right hand to help double team the ball, but Kyrie blew by Carter-Williams on the left, and no one was there to stop him as he laid in the game winner with .6 seconds remaining.
The Cavaliers were in desperate need of a victory on Saturday. In danger of dropping to 2-5 on the year the Cavaliers faced a 10 point deficit heading into the fourth quarter, but thanks to the reemergence of Mr. 4th Quarter Kyrie Irving, the team rallied behind the energy of the hometown crowd and came charging back.
After failed attempts at the buzzer in regulation and the first over time, Kyrie made the third time a charm, sending the Wine and Gold home a winner and splitting the weekend series with Philly.
– 19 – The number of minutes Irving, Jack, Waiters, Thompson, and Varejao played together to close out the game. With just over 9 minutes remaining in the fourth, Waiters and Vaerjao checked back in the game, and those five would stay on the floor until the buzzer sounded in double OT. With Bynum inactive, there’s no doubt those five are the best five players Mike Brown has at his disposal and thanks to Philly playing Evan Turner at small forward the Cavs were able to close the game out with the three guards on the floor. Turner plays more like a combo guard, so there is no issue for Jack or Waiters to cover him. We should get used to seeing this lineup going forward. If the opponent lacks size at small forward, the three guard lineup will be one Mike Brown trots for lengthy minutes like he did on Saturday.
– 0 – The number of minutes Earl Clark played on Saturday. After starting the first six games of the year, Clark was replaced in the starting lineup by Alonzo Gee. But Clark wasn’t just relegated to the bench, he received the vaunted “DNP – Coaches Decision”. Brown was clearly sending a message to his team that no spot is safe. Based off early season play it seemed C.J. Miles would be the favorite to slide into the starting small forward role, but his scoring is more valuable to second unit then it would be with the starting five.
– 1 – Number of superstars on the court. Evan Turner continued to play at an all-star level on Saturday, Carter-Williams shined once again as the top rookie in the league, but by the end of the game Saturday it was clear Kyrie was the alpha male on the floor. Irving finally put in a performance that warranted being called one of the ten best players in the league. Not only did he score 39 points and was the team was +11 while he was on the floor, but he also matched his career high dishing out 12 assists. Until Saturday Kyrie’s play has not been close to a superstar level, and without superstar Kyrie showing up night in and night out the Cavs are going nowhere.
– 15 – The combined number of offensive rebounds and blocks from Andy and Tristan. The energy and hustle from this front court duo wreaked havoc on Philly all night long, generating extra possession after possession. In a game this close, every possession matters. The Cavs out rebounded Philadelphia by 6 and blocked 7 more shots than the 76ers. While there was some difficulty containing the uber athletic Thaddeus Young, both Andy and Tristan ended the game with double-doubles.
– 29 – The number of free throws the Cavs attempted on the night while in Friday’s loss the team had just 14 chances from the charity stripe. After settling for too many long range jumpers on Friday, the team took the ball the hole at a higher rate on Saturday. The team still scored just 40 points in the paint, but an improvement from the mere 28 they scored in Philly.
– 21 – Dion Waiter’s scoring average the past three games. Dion has started to come on in the past week, averaging 21 a night while also shooting 45% from the field. The Cavs need Dion to stay aggressive and be the secondary scoring option. Dion and Kyrie seemed in sync on Saturday, often times playing on a string with each other. As one drove , the other rotated to the open spot and was there to bury the open jumper.
Photo: David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images