U-G-L-Y. This game certainly had no alibi for the first three and a half quarters. The Bucks, missing nearly half of their roster including three starters, played the Cavaliers hard as both teams struggled to play aesthetically pleasing basketball. What we did see, however, was a thrilling finish that saw huge shots from several different Cavaliers, and they needed every single last one of them to eek out a 114-111 overtime victory over the Bucks in Quicken Loans Arena. Let’s highlight some of the numbers from this much-needed win that keeps the Cavs just one-half game out of the 8 seed in the wide-open East. 1 - The Cavaliers had just one turnover in the fourth quarter and did not turn the ball over in overtime. With just 12 miscues for the 53 minutes of action, it’s even more impressive when you point out that nine of those came in the first half of the game. The Bucks only turned it over 11 times themselves, and what that meant was more shots going up. Each team took 100 shots with the Bucks making one more with 40. The single most detrimental thing game in and game out for the Cavaliers is their number of turnovers. Holding them in check allowed them to survive a subpar effort defensively and shooting-wise.
3-for-14 - Andrew Bynum’s shot line for the night. The Cavaliers were able to get him the ball with relative ease in the post, but Bynum was unable to cash in. There weren’t many that shot well for the wine and gold after all. Take out Kyrie Irving’s 13-for-25 shooting effort and the rest of the team was just 26-of-75 (35%). There are times where Bynum looks like a slightly-subdued version of himself from Laker teams past. Then, there are nights like tonight where you just scratch your head and wonder how he can’t score on the likes of Miroslav Raduljica and Ekpe Udoh. 9 - Only 2 of the Cavaliers’ 11 three point makes came from Kyrie Irving. It was Earl Clark (4), C.J. Miles (3), and Jarrett Jack (2) that each hit multiple treys and scored in double digits to help the cause. Clark is now shooting nearly 46% on the season from behind the three-point arc, and he’s so much more effective playing a reserve stretch power forward role than he was trying to dribble and drive as a small forward.
1.8 - The Cavaliers didn’t make the mistake of leaving the opponent ample time to get a non-rushed final shot attempt like on Tuesday night. On the final offensive possession of regulation, Kyrie Irving drove to the right side of the bucket, only to be met by three defenders once again. He missed the shot short and to the right. Tristan Thompson, however, followed him in as his man, John Henson, had elevated to contest Irving’s shot. Double-T slid right through and batted the ball up and in with 1.8 seconds remaining. Thompson posted his 11th double-double of the season with 10 points and 15 rebounds.
25-of-27 - Though they rank 20th in the league in FT% at 74.6%, the Cavs have turned in some good free throw clips recently. Tonight was no different.
Decision making - More impressive than any of Kyrie Irving’s statline of 39 points, 4 blocks, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, and 11-of-12 makes at the foul line or the fact the he did it all with the flu was his decision making. In the extra session, Irving drove or assisted on each of the 18 points that the wine and gold produced. He made good decisions late in the shot clock, passing up to Jarrett Jack and Earl Clark for key three pointers. Irving also didn’t bog down the possessions by over-dribbling. Instead, he took some shots a little earlier in the shot clock and the ball moving with the help of Jack.
The Mike Brown defensive way - The Cavaliers have surrendered 100+ points in the last four games and 111+ in the last three. It’s not the way that Mike Brown probably wants to be playing, but with the quickened pace, the Cavaliers have found their offensive flow by scoring 107+ in their last five games. They managed to score 114 points tonight without their second leading scorer, Dion Waiters.
Luck - Sometimes you play good defense and get burned. Other times, you play bad defense and survive it. On Tuesday night, Alonzo Gee got a hand up on Damian Lillard from almost 30 feet away from the hoop, and he just made the hero shot. Tonight, the Cavaliers played the inbound play at the end of regulation quite well, forcing a long two-point jumper from Khris Middleton, probably the third or fourth option on that play. In overtime, however, they survived two wide-open three point looks from O.J. Mayo in the final four seconds of the extra session that could’ve sent the game to double overtime. Mayo was a huge reason why the Cavs lost in Milwaukee earlier this season, but he was just 6-of-21 on his way to 20 points.
6 - That’s the number of rotation players that were out for the Bucks (Carlos Delfino, Gary Neal, Zaza Pachulia, Caron Butler, Ersan Ilyasova, and Larry Sanders). Brandon Knight and O.J. Mayo are the type of dynamic, quick scorers that can really bother the Cavs, and Luke Ridnour always seems to hit shots against the Cavs, but the rest of the nine-man roster for tonight is incredibly underwhelming. That’s what you’d expect, but it goes to show just how important it was that the Cavaliers not let this one slip away tonight.