Cavs Crush Sixers, Win Fifth Straight
Wrap-Up – In his final postgame media session before the Break, Coach Mike Brown was asked if he was concerned that his club might lose momentum after five days off. Brown’s answer was an easy “no” – and on Tuesday night in Philly, the Cavaliers validated their coach’s confidence, returning from the All-Star Break to thump the Sixers, 114-85, and run their win streak to five games.
The Sixers came into Tuesday’s contest losers of eight straight, and Cleveland took the wind out them early – led by Tyler Zeller, who notched 10 of his 18 points and five of his 15 boards in the first period. Zeller was one of three Cavaliers to notch double-doubles, joined by Tristan Thompson – who doubled-up for the third straight game with 12 points and 10 boards – and rookie Anthony Bennett – who did so for the second time in his last three outings, finishing with 10 points and 11 boards.
All-Star Game MVP Kyrie Irving finished with 14 points and Luol Deng added 13 for the Cavs. CJ Miles and Dion Waiters each tallied double-figures off the bench. Miles, who dropped 34 points on Philly the last time around, settled for 10 in Tuesday’s win. Dion Waiters was leading the Cavs with 13 points before hyperextending his left knee with 54 seconds to play in the first half – landing awkwardly after throwing down a vicious right-handed dunk in traffic. He came off the court under his own power, but didn't return to action in the second half.
Turning Point – The Sixers regained the lead, 5-4, with 10:54 remaining in the first quarter and that was as good as it would get for Philly. The Cavaliers led by five early in the second quarter, but a Waiters’ jumper and a trey by CJ Miles gave Cleveland a double-digit advantage. The Wine and Gold bumped their advantage to 21 by intermission and didn’t look back. With the second-half of a back-to-back looming on Wednesday, Mike Brown was able to keep everyone under 28 minutes for the night.
Game Ball – Tyler Zeller – The sophomore big man from UNC was dominant right from the opening tip on Tuesday night. In his third straight start for Anderson Varejao – who’s nursing a sore back – Zeller had his finest game as a pro, going 6-for-14 from the floor and 6-of-7 from the stripe, grabbing six of his 15 rebounds off the offensive glass.
By the Numbers – 25 … double-doubles for Tristan Thompson this season, good for 3rd best in the Eastern Conference. Tuesday marked Thompson’s third straight double-double and his 12 in Cleveland’s last 21 games. The third-year forward is 4th in the East in rebounds per game (9.5) and 3rd in East in offensive rebounds per contest (3.6, 6th in the NBA).
Quotable – Coach Mike Brown, on his team’s effort in Tuesday night’s win …
”You give the guys in the locker room credit. They’ve done a heckuva job throughout the course of the year. It’s been a year of some ups and some downs and our guys just keep fighting.”
Up Next – After coming out after the Break with a bang, the Wine and Gold welcome Orlando to The Q on Wednesday night. On Friday, they travel to Toronto to face the Atlantic Division-leading Raptors before returning for a Sunday night meeting with the Wizards – who they topped on February 7 to kickstart their current win streak. The Raptors come back to Cleveland one week from Tuesday and Cleveland travels to Oklahoma City the following night for a tough matchup with Kevin Durant and the Thunder.
Watch Highlights: Cavs 114, Sixers 85