April 24, 2014

Cavs vs Blazers Behind The Box Score: Heartbreaker at The Q

Damian LillardThis will be one of those games that you remember. It’s one of those games where it’s hard to know whether to feel encouraged by the effort of the Cavaliers, or to feel crushed by the loss.

The Blazers lit up with some great shooting in the 2nd half, taking a late lead that looked insurmountable. But Kyrie Irving breathed some life back into the team by scoring nine points in 61 seconds off two three balls and an And-One, bringing the Cavs within two of the Blazers. After getting a big stop and a rebound, Kyrie drove to the lane, drawing a triple team. Irving made a great pass back to a cutting Anderson Varejao who tied the game with seven seconds left.

But then it was Damian Lillard time. Just two nights after hitting a game winner in overtime against the Pistons, Lillard went to his spot and nailed a crushing 30-footer with 0.4 seconds left. Kyrie tried to get off a 33-footer at the buzzer, but his shot just missed and the Blazers left The Q with a hard fought win.

That makes two games in a row the Cavaliers have gone toe-to-toe with a couple of the NBA’s absolute best teams, only to come up just short in the fourth quarter. It’s frustrating to be so close to winning these games only to come up empty handed, but it’s also extremely encouraging to see this team continue growing, showing better effort night in and night out, and just generally getting better. Hopefully these games eventually turn into some big wins.

Now lets get into the numbers:

  • 56 – If you want to know why the Cavaliers lost this game, look no further than the rebounding category. The Blazers had 56 total rebounds, with 18 of them being on the offensive glass, leading to 35 second chance points. The Cavaliers could only manage 10 second chance points off 13 offensive boards. LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 15 boards, while he and Robin Lopez had four offensive boards each.
  • 25 and 25 – The Cavaliers were led in scoring by Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters who each had 25 points. Dion had 15 of his points in the second half and Kyrie had 17 of his own in the second half. Over the last couple weeks the Cavaliers have shown that when both Kyrie and Dion are scoring in the same game, they are an extremely tough team to beat. Consistency has been the downfall of Dion early in his career, but as he improves, if he can consistently add this kind of output, the Cavaliers as a whole are only going to get better.
  • 62 – As impressive as the combined 50 points from Kyrie and Dion was, the Blazers’ duo of Lillard and Aldridge was simply better. Lillard had 36 points to lead all scorers while Aldridge added 26 of his own. Make no mistake, this Blazers team is incredibly good. In addition to those two players, Wesley Matthews had 19 points while Nic Batum added 14 points. The Blazers are such a well rounded basketball team and their offense is a joy to watch, just not when they are playing your team.
  • 55.6% – The Blazers were 10-of-18 from three point range in the 2nd half. For a while in the third quarter, the Cavaliers appeared to be taking control of the game. But the Blazers started just pouring in three after three. Lillard went 6-for-8 from long distance in the second half, Wesley Matthews was 2-for-4, and Mo Williams added one of his two attempts as well. Some of it was poor closing out, as that tends to be one of the weaker parts of a Mike Brown defense. But you also just have to credit Portland for nailing their shots when they had them.
  • 26 to 6 – It’s not often you lose a game when you have an assist to turnover ratio of 26-to-6, but that’s what happened to the Cavaliers. Kyrie Irving had 10 assists with zero turnovers in this game, continuing to develop his all around game. Dion Waiters only had one turnover. After too much isolation and sloppy ball control early in the season, the offense has been steadily improving. On most nights the Cavaliers have still had a few too many turnovers, but not in this game.
  • 25 to 16 – One of the other areas this game was lost for the Cavaliers was in free throw shooting discrepancy. The Blazers were 22-of-25 from the FT line (88%) while the Cavaliers were just 11-of-16 (68.8%). For whatever reason, Dion Waiters continues to seem unable to get to the free throw line despite his general aggressiveness in going to the rim. Dion was 10-of-11 on jumpers and just 1-of-8 on layups. It’s not all officiating, as sometime Dion goes in a little out of control, but there still seems to be an awful lot of drives with contact that simply aren’t being called.

In all honesty, with the kind of effort and performance the Cavaliers gave in this game, they probably would have beaten 25 other teams in the NBA. But you just have to tip your hat to a great clutch player like Damian Lillard who simply made a great shot. The Cavaliers had their chances and when you get dominated on the glass like Cleveland did in this one, it’s going to be hard to beat a great team like Portland. Now the Cavaliers will have to focus and come back out with this same level of performance Friday at The Q against the Milwaukee Bucks.

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Photo by Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty Images

  • thenoclist

    The air really went out of that arena when Lillard made the 3 but it’s such a good sign that the Cavs can hang with the best team in the NBA to the point where they need a last second shot to win.

  • FearTheRoo

    Unfortunately when it’s playoff time and the Cavs are sitting at home, an “almost” win doesn’t mean much. Yes, they seem to be improving. But unless they start winning, it doesn’t matter.

  • thenoclist

    Improving leads to winning when you’re not playing the best team in the NBA.

  • artnchicken

    I live in Portland and I’m hoping I can get tickets for when the Cavs come to town next month. Game should be better than when I saw them lose by 41 a couple of years ago.

  • Kj Coral

    The lack of calls as it pertains to Dion is beyond frustrating. Furthermore, we’re the home team yet they got to the line 10 more times then us? Bullshite. Btw, Dion been pretty good for a while now…

  • mgbode

    Sigh. That is all.

  • stryker1121

    He’s been pretty great ever since the trade rumors started. He’s finishing at the basket more than I’ve ever seen, for one.

  • Jason Hurley

    Yeah, it’s a bummer. But, try to take some positives out of it – a strong performance against one fo the best teams in the league. They didn’t play like a team a bunch of games under .500.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    First game I’ve been at the Q at in a long time – the place was surprisingly empty. I don’t think there were close to 10,000 seats full last night for a really great game.

    It was frustrating to see the lack of rebounding and horrible switching which led to a lot of pretty open 3s for the Blazers. Damian Lillard is fantastic as is LaMarcus Aldridge – it’s easy to understand why this team is as good as it is. There was almost no defense by either team in this game (or perhaps more just unstoppable offense?).

    A few things I thought were interesting – Dion is absolutely able to get to the basket at will, his only issue is finishing sometimes. If he can keep getting better at finishing within 5 feet he’ll be nearly unstoppable. I think he missed about four shots at the rim yesterday.

    Tristan Thompson is incredible at figuring out where a rebound’s going to go, much like Andy. Even though he didn’t end up with a lot yesterday, he was getting his hand on balls around or through a couple of Blazers constantly even when he started off nowhere near that spot on the floor.

    Bynum absolutely dominated Lopez. The longer he can stay in games as the season progresses and he gets healthier the more it will open up the floor for Kyrie and everyone else. When he forced Lopez out with foul trouble the Blazers immediately started collapsing guys to help out.

  • DontbringLBJback

    Agree with everything you said. One of my takeaways was that Bynum actually looked like he had some explosiveness going to the hole. He’s getting better with every passing game, and it’s great to see him have more power in his legs than he has displayed before. I think by game 50 or 60 this guy may be back close to the dominant force he was 3 years ago.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    Yup. And I liked that the first thing he did after Lopez went out (and he’d been taking it to him already) was call for the ball to go right after the backup.

  • cmm13

    Two thoughts on last night:

    1. Personally I feel nothing but encouraged by that performance. We were far from putting together a perfect game and still went toe to toe with the hottest team in the West.

    2. I really wish Dion would just embrace being one of the top 6th men in the league. Him with Andy off the bench would be a powerful one two punch.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Lillard is a bad man love this kids play!

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Robin Lopez is actually a fantastic matchup for Bynum. He’s a good but not great defender who doesn’t have a jump shot. The place where we’ve really seen Bynum struggle (and will continue to do so) is trying to guard centers who can shoot. They keep Bynum in no man’s land as he can’t completely back off on them, but if he gets too close they can easily drive past him. Watching Bynum guard Chris Bosh was rough. I do have to hand it to Mike Brown though, he made much more of an emphasis to get Bynum the ball closer to the basket. I saw on one play, CJ Miles kind of purposefully bumped into Bynum’s defender as he was clearing space in the post… helped Bynum get a full step closer to the basket before even receiving the ball.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Or since he was moved to the 2nd unit… take your pick.

  • Wow

    If they play like this against the sorry east teams, they could be a lower seed.

  • deesh

    I dunno about y’all but I’m not upset about that loss at all. We’re starting to look miles better than we did in November, and with a weak Eastern conference, maybe we’ll finally get to the playoffs.

    One thing I noticed though is that Dion kept us in that game and then Kyrie closed it out, but it’s like Dion wasn’t even there once Kyrie came back in the 4th quarter. I dunno. I’m speaking out of my hindquarters, but I could totally see why Dion might be frustrated.

    The same thing happened in Miami too. Dion gave us the momentum to hang in that game, then when Kyrie came in, he killed that momentum.

    (I still really like Kyrie btw, just an observation)

  • john

    are you this negative in real life too?