The Cleveland Cavaliers are a streaky team and have been all year, but tonight’s game really showed how streaky they could be. After being down 19 at the end of the 3rd quarter, they made an amazing comeback to get the game to overtime and eventually won the game. How did this happen?
The first 3 quarters were tough to watch, as the Cavs did not lead for a single second throughout. Sexton and Garland both had fairly rough games tonight, neither one could get into a rhythm. Kevin Love got to the line a few times but he had a bad night shooting too, going 4-13 overall and 2-9 from three. Andre Drummond was borderline terrible, and was benched towards the end of the game. Tristan Thompson had a couple of bright spots throughout the game but did nothing noteworthy in the first 3 quarters.
The team gave up a lot of open 3 pointers, too. Duncan Robinson hit five of his first 5 3’s in the game. They did not have a real answer for Goran Dragic, who came off the bench to score a (tied for) team high 22 points.
Kevin Porter Jr. was fantastic all night, scoring 30, a career high. He looked like a real quality starter tonight and it was fun to watch. At this point, he may be the most exciting young guy on this team, and the Cavs traded 2nds from other trades and cash for him. Despite being phenomenal all game, the Cavs were down 19 going into the 4th.
But In the 4th quarter, they exploded. They forced key turnovers on defense after a game littered with turnovers on offense, so much so that both teams ended up with 12 turnovers. Larry Nance Jr. and KPJ kept making shots while the Heat ran cold for the first time all game. Duncan Robinson, who was at one point 5-5, missed his next 6 threes, which was absolutely crucial to the win. Then, after a Kendrick Nunn layup and a failed buzzer beater from KPJ, we went to overtime, tied at 111!
Nance Jr. was great in OT, scoring some important layups early when the Cavs were beginning to falter on defense. Garland, after missing his first two shots, hit a crucial up and under layup to put the Cavs up 3. After being cold all game, Kevin Love got the rebound and sealed the game with a hard-fought layup. After some free throws, the Cavs won 125-119.
After the game, JB praised KPJ, talking about how talented he is, saying “once he [gets] comfortable, there are not many plays he can’t make.” He also emphasized versatility as a key to their success due to the choice to put Larry Nance at the 3 with Love and TT at the end of the game.