By Vince Rota
For those of you unfamiliar with downtown Cleveland, it has the amenities one could hope for as an NBA player: multiple bars (including this contributor’s favorite scantily clad staff at The Titled Kilt), a three-story Horseshoe casino (owned by the cuckolded Cavs owner Dan Gilbert), and several bowling alleys whichare more like night clubs than the typical Big Lebowski image one would conjure up in their mind. It’s amazing actually given that information, that team cancer Andrew Bynum lasted more than two months in the city appropriately dubbed “The Mistake by the Lake”. With Bynum now gone and new arrival Luol Deng en route to the line-up, the 11-23 Cavs were tasked to take on a lukewarm Sixers team fresh off a throttling at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night.. Not easing the difficulty of playing back-to-back games for the Sixers was the return of Kyrie Irving to the Cleveland line-up. You may remember the double overtime thriller in which “Uncle Drew” finished with 39 points and hit a last-second shot to elevate the Cavs past the boys from Philly. But if that night was any indication of the Sixers resolve amidst a back-to-back, nobody told Brett Brown’s squad.
All of the exciting flaws of this Sixers team were on full display Tuesday night, starting with the absence of perimeter defense. C.J. Miles shot 10-14 from distance for a season-high 34 points, establishing a Cavs single game record for threes in the process. I would say Miles had a sick night shooting (which he did) but perhaps the Sixers thought he was actually sick and therefore refused to put their hands anywhere near his face. Miles’ 8 first half threes are really the story here, as he couldn’t miss and the Cavs coasted the rest of the way. However, one reigning Eastern Conference player of the week could ONLY miss (all 7 of his shots actually), as Thad Young went scoreless in 21 minutes following the previous five games that saw him average just a hair under 25 points per game. Evan Turner chipped in 2-13 shooting and like most Sixers never got things going offensively.
One bright spot, however, was the play of MCW as he again attempted to duel with Kyrie Irving for the third time this season. Once again, the rookie showed no signs of fear or intimidation in this point guard battle, and his sense of belonging led to a fat stat line of 33 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists, on 13-25 shooting. But ultimately, with the exception of MCW, this is one to try and forget for Sixers fans.
- Philly parted ways with C Daniel Orton, which may not seem like much, but considering they immediately went out and were out-rebounded 58-38 in their first contest
without the reserve center, it is hard to imagine where help will come from now in that department.
- The addition of Luol Deng and the subtraction of the bowling enthusiast/hair model Bynum should help the ailing Cavs win a few more games, and hopefully (in the pro-tanking community at least) surpass the Sixers in the standings.
- The Sixers will next face the Pistons, Knicks and Bobcats (combined 41-64) before hosting the villainous Miami Heat on 1/17. This is either a great opportunity to climb into the playoff race, or slide into the lottery conversation.