The Cavaliers and Their Record-Setting Night, A Reaction Piece


What can you even say about the Cavs' performance in game 2? It was electrifying, overwhelming, laughable, and then boring for most of the 4th quarter. The statistics speak for themselves and there are dozens of articles recapping the game with quotes from players and coaches alike. Scorching hot takes are being doled out all over the media landscape about whether or not the Cavaliers should have pulled off the dogs and not tried to beat the record for threes made by hitting a couple in the final minutes (side note, the Warriors' record-setter a few weeks ago came on 2 late threes in a 30 point blowout, didn't notice the outrage on that one). It's been a busy day for people who like to read about the Cleveland Cavaliers. 

For me, the game is best illustrated by the semi-diary I keep of games. My friend Ryan lives in China and can only sometimes see the games so I keep track of what's happening and send him a 1,200 word email as the game ends. Here are some excerpts from Wednesday night's game 2 beat-down.

Starting early...

"Love misses a 6 footer terribly. backboard, no rim. JR has the Cavs' first 5 points after missing an early jumper. Love swatted inside. Great."

Things started kind of shaky last night, do you guys remember that? Love looked terrible inside and didn't really improve. I was worried I'd jinxed JR after still another column about how much I love watching him play, so I was glad to see he hit a couple after the 1st miss. But at this point I was nervous.

Minutes later: "The (Irving/James) PnR works the other way - LBJ hits a 3 and has 7 in 8 minutes. Cavs playing really good D and just had the prettiest possession: JR stops the break, throws it to LBJ at the top, immediately fires to KI near the hoop, thought he was gonna oop-layin, didn't. Fires to corner, Love hits a 3. Wowzer. Beautiful." 

Confession, this is how I talk sometimes. This was also the first possession that almost made me jump off the couch. The LBJ zip-pass inside (left-handed, no less) was beautiful, Irving's early movement drew the 2nd defender away from Love, and that was all it took. Gorgeous basketball.

The following comments are all after JR Smith threes: First, "JR BUCKETS. I LOVE THIS MAN." And then "Really good defense by the Cavs, leading to *another* JR Smith triple. 30-16." And to end the quarter, simply "oh my god."

The play to end the quarter was lovely. I really dug the TT fake-screen motion toward the ball-handler, then turning back to screen for JR who came to the top of the arc. He didn't have the shot right away but didn't worry because JR Smith doesn't worry about not having the perfect look. He instead just glides across the floor and fires an off-balance 26 footer with a hand 2 inches from the ball. And buries it. That's just what JR Smith does.

"RJ buries one. This is unreal. 8:00 left in the 2nd and they've tied the playoff record for 3s in a half with 12. They've all been wide-open looks too. 
Bron fires another and hits it. Broken record with 7:30 to play."

The Hawks were just scrambling all over the floor because the ball was zipping around between players. No one held the ball for long, James and Irving could penetrate, help-defense came too far, and shooters were open all night long. It wasn't an indictment on Atlanta's defense, really, they just couldn't keep up and figured the Cavaliers would eventually miss. They just had to wait a really long time.

Here's a really fun stretch from late in the 2nd quarter.

"I mean, I don't know what to say anymore. Cavs 14-21 from 3. 59-35 with 4:25 to play." Followed by "JR again. Horford in his face, there's no defending this guy." Followed by "AGAIN. CAVS UP 30."

My wife had gone to bed by this point and it was everything I could do to not periodically shout, dance, and generally make noises after each triple. JR put on a clinic that only JR can put on. He was 6-10 in the first half from deep, and even the easy ones were 3 feet beyond the arc. LeBron James was hitting his threes - when LeBron is hitting threes, something special is going on. 

And then the 2nd half started. 

"JR just hit another 3. Then LeBron the next time down the floor. I don't know what's worth mentioning anymore." 

I had basically thrown my hands up in the air in disbelief. This game had already crossed into "never seen anything like this" territory and it somehow didn't veer back toward normal. At one point early in the 3rd the Hawks were on a 10-2 run and were losing by 32. 

"Irving quick-trigger three. That's 22. There are 17 minutes left in this game." 

That was the record breaker. The game was long-since out of hand and the fellas were trying to fight off laughter, it seemed. There was only time for a few more highlights, sadly. 

"JR checking out to a huge ovation. Or maybe it's for Mozgov entering - hard to tell."

"Sad to see Mo Williams isn't just immediately jacking 3s every time he touches the ball."

"Oh boy. Mo just zipped a pass toward Frye (ed's note: I was wrong, aimed at RJ) off of someone's head. Landed in Shump's hands in the corner. 3-ball is good." In case you didn't see this...

 

Suffice it to say, things went in favor of the Cavaliers. When Dahntay Jones is scoring, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in good shape. Dahntay has scored in each of the first 2 games. 

If I can be negative for a moment, Cleveland was atrocious inside. I mean, really bad. Theoretically it will level out and they'll shoot better inside the arc and worse outside it, but that sure hasn't happened so far. 

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