Cavs vs Magic Behind the Box Score: The wins keep rolling in

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

(Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images)

It wasn’t as easy as it could have, and probably should have been, but the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Orlando Magic to extend their winning streak to six.

The Cavs came out in this game picking up right where they left off in Philly, jumping to a big lead early, and eventually extending the lead all the way to 21. But in the 3rd quarter the Cavs starters stumbled a bit on both ends and let the Magic crawl back into the game. Orlando would hang around the rest of the game, eventually getting within 2. But then Tyler Zeller grabbed a huge offensive rebound and converted an And-1 and the Cavaliers never looked back, coming away with a 101-93 win.

This was by no means a perfect game, but it was a game the Cavaliers needed to win and the bottom line is, they made the plays they needed to in order to get the job done.

Now lets get into some numbers…

  • 16 points on 5 shots – What can be said about Tyler Zeller? At the beginning of this season, Zeller could barely get on the court. In his first 8 games he only played more than 4 minutes twice and more than 8 minutes once. Rather than sulk and give up, though, he kept working on his game and always stayed ready to play. After Andrew Bynum was traded and Anderson Varejao started missing games with injury, the Cavaliers needed Zeller to step up. And he has delivered in a big way, playing the best basketball of his career. Zeller continues to go strong to the rim, drawing fouls, and knocking down open jumpers from the elbow when the defense gives it. Against Orlando, Zeller scored 16 points on just 5 FG attempts. He was 4-of-5 from the field and 8-of-9 from the FT line, for an impressive 0.8929 TS%. He was a team high +15 in this game as well.
  • 14.3% – The Cavaliers defense held the Magic to just 14.3% shooting from the field for 11 points in the first quarter. With a depleted bench, it was important for the Cavs starters to set the tone early and get off to a good start, and the defense was tremendous in the first quarter. They were pretty good for most of this game, holding Orlando to 39.3% shooting overall, but the first quarter was what really got the team off to such a strong start.
  • 9 to 8 – With Anderson Varejao out, sliding Zeller to the starting lineup, and with Dion hurt, the Cavs’ bench was in rough shape. When the Cavaliers starters let the Magic back in the game in the 3rd quarter, it put a lot of pressure on this bench unit to maintain the slim lead. Kyrie left the game with 1:14 left in the 3rd quarter and returned with 8:55 left in the 4th quarter after CJ Miles hurt his ankle. Over that stretch, the Cavaliers outscored the Magic by a 9 to 8 margin. The bench rose to the challenge and despite shooting just 3-of-10 in that stretch, they outrebounded the Magic 6 to 3 and had 2 assists to 0 turnovers. It was one of the most important periods of the game, and the bench deserves a lot of credit for hanging on.
  • All 5 in double figures – With the bench being shorthanded, the Cavs really needed to lean on their starters, and all five starters scored double figures. Kyrie Irving had another excellent all around game and led the team with 22 points. Luol Deng had 17 points including a huge dagger 3 late in the game. Tristan Thompson had another double-double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Even Jarrett Jack had a nice quiet 10 points. Other than the bad stretch of the 3rd quarter, the starters were really good in this game.
  • 14-of-18 – In the 4th quarter of this game, the Cavaliers hit 14 of 18 free throws to help put away the game. Overall the Cavs hit 30 of their 37 free throw attempts. They had a 37 to 24 edge in free throw attempts, and when the game got close, it was the free throws that ultimately made the difference.

Once again, it would be easy to downplay the value of hanging on to beat a bad Magic team at home. But when you put together a win streak, you’re going to face some adversity and have some ups and downs. The important thing is that the Cavaliers never lost their composure and never let the Magic gain the lead. When you add in the injury losses of Varejao, Waiters, and Miles, it makes it even better that the Cavaliers were able to hang on and find a way to win.

Now the Cavaliers prepare for a crucial stretch of games against the Raptors, Wizards, and Raptors again. These next 3 games will set the stage for the upcoming stretch of difficult opponents. But for now, they can simply enjoy a well earned 6 game winning streak.

  • Harv 21

    - they didn’t fold. The last couple of years they’ve blown countless games like this.

    – Tyler Zeller is playing like 7 footer. Last year it was more like a skinny 6’8″, where he could never maintain position or fight for the ball. That offensive rebound and and-one put back was all that new strength, and really won the game.

  • mgbode

    also, Jameer Nelson’s line tonight was a beauty considering how opposing PGs have treated us:
    2/11 5pts, 4PF. Sure, he had only 1TO to 9assists, but he was taken out of this game.

    and Sims barely got in the game, but he was an animal in that minimal stretch. you could tell he was begging Mike Brown for more minutes with his play. (note: I don’t think he’s really all that good, but I like to see the effort and our other all-effort, less-talent guy is having a bit of a rough stretch lately).

  • Lunch

    With the way the Cavs are playing lately, it seems less likely that David will need to make a move before the trading deadline.

  • The Other Tim

    I knew Chris Grant was the problem.

  • Matthew Grant Anson

    Also just really great hands, some real coordination. Andy might have come down with that but it wouldn’t have been quite as graceful.

  • The Otter Tim

    I knew The Other Tim was the problem.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Wow, 11 downvotes? Tough crowd!

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    The Cavs defensive switch in philosophy on the PnR has made an enormous difference. Before, PGs were getting around the hard show too quickly and the help rotation was too slow, and thus PGs were carving up the defense. Now when PGs come around the screen, there’s a big sagging into the lane already and they don’t have anywhere to go with it.

    It’s a shame the Cavs couldn’t pick up Mike Brown’s defense, but credit to MB for going against his core principles and making an adjustment that is helping the team defend better.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Not even just the last couple years, but even within the last few months. How many big leads did the Cavs blow earlier this season? They’re learning how to handle opponent runs now. Progress.

  • mgbode

    of course, the more we use the sag on PnR, the more teams will start to account for it. it’ll allow good shooting PGs easy 3pters, it can force a switch instead of a show giving away a matchup disadvantage, and it can setup the roll action as the big man has to focus on the PG.

    then again, it constantly amazes me how long it takes NBA coaches to adjust to basic philosophies, so maybe noone will adjust :)

    (and really, every defense should be constantly switching. you dno’t want the offense to know what you are going to do or how you are going to react to their offense. I don’t know why that is so difficult)

  • Jason Hurley

    Anthony Bennett – 9 rebounds (3 offensive) in 16 minutes.

  • BenRM

    Yeah – I was about to say the same thing. He didn’t score too well in his limited minutes, but I really liked how he attacked the boards and his effort on defense last night.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    Yep. And one of his offensive boards was an enormous rebound that he then fed to Kyrie to setup an And-1 for Kyrie. Bennett is getting so much better at finding ways to contribute and stay involved in the game, even when not scoring. Although I do still wish he would score more.

  • Harv 21

    Last night Austin Carr noted Bennett has good rebounding “instincts.” Took him to mean the way he collared that crucial offensive rebound by timing his leap perfectly (by anticipating the ball trajectory when it was shot).

    Regarding his offense, I don’t see Brown actually running many plays for him. I’m guessing with all that athleticism he’ll be a lot more effective on a pick and roll than an awkward guy like Tristan.

    I’m not going to get too excited about him yet, but it’s almost like the layers of the onion are coming off with the extra weight, suddenly revealing a bunch of skills and muscle under there. Wouldn’t it be sad/hilarious if Grant was right, he ultimately is the best player from his draft.

  • MrCleaveland

    Not to go all negative, but this game featured the return of the bad old tendencies, and the Cavs were lucky to win.

    That put-back by Zeller came off an ugly miss by Jack. It was an off-balance heave that had very little chance of going in. Man, he has got to get a better shot than that at crunch time.

    I’m not impressed with this one. The Cavs lucked out.

  • Harv 21

    yep. Somebody stepped up and made a play on offense every time Orlando came within 2. I thought the way Afflalo was scoring at will they were going to blow it.

    They just cannot apply smothering defense, especially without Andy. The young big men don’t know the nuances to avoid fouls, and none of the guards except for Delly have internalized a defensive mentality, never mind defensive skills. Right now they’re just trying to compete on defense, which at least is better than 3 weeks ago. They’re showing can beat bad teams and some ok teams with effort.

  • mgbode

    he ultimately is the best player from his draft.

    honestly, it won’t take too much. MCW has had injury issues already but is far and away the ROY. Oladipo is limited. Hardaway Jr. can shoot. Burke has some potential. Giannis has a ton of potential but may never realize it.

    getting a 10yr vet who is a consistent rotation guy from last year’s draft might be the best that comes out of it.

  • RGB

    “I don’t see Brown actually running many plays for him.”

    Brown? Offense? Snicker…let me clean the coffee off my
    screen…

  • mgbode

    I have his playbook. The guy is lazy though, he still hasn’t crossed off the old name for Kyrie (and I think that laziness is what upset Kobe in LA. He wanted the playbook to have his name on it):

    http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y201/SirusDarkwalker/MikeBrownsPlayBook.jpg

  • Harv 21

    I hear ya but I’m ok with them learning that if they fight they can get a win. Dion was not available so they were stuck, and this was about as good as Jack played for us. I think he was in the middle of the ball movement that resulted in the dagger 3 for Deng. On the other hand … I think when we look back at Chris Grant’s tenure, Jack may the worst move, the desperate equivalent of Ferry throwing money at Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall because he felt pressure to do something, quick.

  • Harv 21

    I hear ya but I’m ok with them learning that if they fight they can get a win. Dion was not available so they were stuck, and this was about as good as Jack played for us. I think he was in the middle of the ball movement that resulted in the dagger 3 for Deng. On the other hand … I think when we look back at Chris Grant’s tenure, Jack may the worst move, the desperate equivalent of Ferry throwing money at Larry Hughes and Donyell Marshall because he felt pressure to do something, quick.

  • HRD53

    Get ready Ava, Here they come!!

  • HRD53

    Get ready Ava, Here they come!!

  • Harv 21

    In my heart I wanted Oladipo but I was really surprised last night at how limited he seems to be. Before every NBA and NFL draft I lose perspective listening to all the draftniks, comparing players within a draft but without a comparison to other drafts. Oladipo, Porter, Len .. just guys.

  • Harv 21

    In my heart I wanted Oladipo but I was really surprised last night at how limited he seems to be. Before every NBA and NFL draft I lose perspective listening to all the draftniks, comparing players within a draft but without a comparison to other drafts. Oladipo, Porter, Len .. just guys.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Nice victory, the win streak continues and they added Hawes for a couple of second round draft picks. I like how this team is trending!

  • mgbode

    I nominate Earl Clark for currently worst move.

  • mgbode

    I don’t think Oladipo is being used how he should (IMO). He’s a SG with great defense and intensity. If they could work on him (a ton) and get a 3pt shot going, then he could be a really good guy to have. Every NBA team needs an elite wing defender who can shoot 3’s and he could be that guy.

    But, Orlando decided they picked him #2 overall, so that means he needs to be a PG. The guy doesn’t have the instincts to be a PG and he’s focusing a ton of effort trying to develop them instead of doing what he does best.

    Bill Walsh always said you draft guys to put in position to succeed at what they do best. Orlando isn’t doing it with him.

  • Steve

    Absolutely agree with you. And I think Oladipo would have been best served by playing next to Irving. Let Oladipo handle the better offensive guard, helping Kyrie a lot, and let him shoot 3’s off Irving’s drives.

  • Jason Hurley

    To be honest, I’m afraid that if I don’t say something nice about him after every game he’ll fade off into crap performances again. I don’t care if it’s superstitious nonsense, I’m going to keep doing it.

  • http://waitingfornextyear.com Andrew Schnitkey

    I hate the Hawes acquisition. I despise the way he plays basketball. I think he’s been a drain on every team he’s played on. He never, ever, ever, ever plays hard. I don’t mind giving up the two 2nd rounders and Clark/Sims, it’s decent value for that price. But I don’t think Hawes makes the Cavs any better.

    But hey, I’m the same guy that thought Deng made the Cavaliers instant playoff contenders. I’ve been wrong about just about every last thing with this team, so I’m sure I’ll be wrong about Hawes, too.

  • typo

    Chris Grant has alot of free time now. Just sayin

  • The Other Tim

    A sense of humor is all that keeps me from crying about Cleveland sports. Sorry to make a joke people.

  • Harv 21

    $9m over 2 years? Not so hard to flush a big man if it doesn’t work. But a guard at $6.3m x4 years and playing like he’s 35? That’s a system clogger. And a redundant roster piece.

  • mgbode

    Jack is more of a 3yr deal (4th year non-guaranteed) and at least has shown some signs of competence during this winning streak (whoever beat him over the head and told him to be a distributor is my friend).

    Regardless, Clark is gone, so Jack is the worst contract on the team now.

  • Harv 21

    well, actually Clark’s second year wasn’t guaranteed either. So call that a 1 year deal. Didn’t suck the life out of the cap like Jack might.

  • mgbode

    I did not realize that was the structure. makes it alot more palatable. of course, a complete waste for that year, but still.