CLEVELAND – Thanks to some big rebounds late and lockdown defense, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Brooklyn Nets 98-94.
Gone are the days of a team looking listless and clueless in the last stretches of a game, blowing 20-plus point leads and not having veteran leadership, under Mike Brown, the Cavs got dirty, gritty and earned their floor burns in a win over a veteran-led NBA title contender.
In the post-LeBron era, Cleveland has had difficulty winning games late and not having that go-to shooter who can come up with that big shot, rebound or free throw, thanks to new veterans such as Earl Clark, Jarrett Jack and Andrew Bynum, the Cavs look like a completely different team.
Bynum, who missed all of last year during his one-year stay in Philadelphia, made his presence felt in eight minutes in scoring three points and getting two blocks. If Bynum can somehow stay healthy, the East had better watch it’s back because a healthy Bynum plus a brilliant All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving—who has also had injury problems—makes the Wine and Gold relevant again.
Jack, signed during the off-season gives the Cavs a much-needed spark off the bench in scoring ten points in the first half, something that was clearly missing last year under the run-and-gun, up-tempo style of Byron Scott.
Clark, signed in the off-season from the Lakers, came up with perhaps the biggest play of the game in grabbing a big rebound off a Irving miss late in the fourth, which led to a Irving assist on a Anderson Varejao jumper from the foul-line.
Lastly, third-year forward, Tristan Thompson’s new right-handed shot, makes him a matchup nightmare, as he displayed a proficient 15-foot jumper in leading all Cleveland scorers with 18 points, makes him a hybrid/power/stretch “four”, and along with his rebounding, an All-Star in the making.
The younger Cavs out-hustled and out-played an older Nets team stacked with two future Hall-of-Famers in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, which is something that would have been unheard of, let alone actually happen with last year’s squad.
When the second-youngest team in the NBA in Cleveland holds the second-oldest team in Brooklyn to 40% shooting in the second half and out rebounds them in the way that they did, it will turn heads.
It is only one game, and while it was opening night, one cannot help but come away with the impression that this year’s Cavaliers are going to be grittier, gutsy and most importantly, a team to watch in the East.
Robert D. Cobb is the Founder/CEO/Senior Editor-In-Chief Of The Inscriber : Digital Magazine, for questions, comments and concerns email me at [email protected] follow me on Twitter @RC_TheInscriber and follow The Inscriber : Digital Magazine on Twitter at @TheInscriber