Game 60: Jazz at Cavs
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio
Many wanted to see how they'd fare against one of the West's worst teams. The Cavs dismantled the Utah Jazz on Friday in a 20-point victory. They've now won three in a row over Utah, and swept the season series.
Three things jumped out at me in Friday's game:
-- The Cavs totally dominated the boards, 56-31. That's a plus-25, which is very uncommon in the NBA. Spencer Hawes, who was guarded by Marvin Williams for much of the game, led all rebounders with 16. That matched his season high. Tristan Thompson added 14 rebounds, Kyrie Irving 10 and Tyler Zeller nine.
-- The Cavs played suffocating defense and held the Jazz to 35 percent shooting. Don't know if you've noticed, but they are really getting after people on the defensive end. Why it took 60 games into the season for the players to start listening to what Coach Mike Brown has been saying all year, I don't know. But it's happening now.
-- Guard Kyrie Irving was sensation - for the second game in a row - with his first career triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists and a block.
After three quarters, he was right at the doorstep. We tracked every rebound he got in the fourth. When he finally got the triple-double with 4:12 left, Brown took him out soon thereafter. It brought back memories of LeBron James, at least for one night. He had the last 34 triple-doubles before Irving snapped that streak.
There have been 50 triple-doubles in franchise history, by 10 different players. I think Foots Walker, a scout for the Cavs, had the first triple-double in team history, at least the first one recorded.
The Jazz have a strong frontcourt, led by Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter. Neither player showed up on the boards on Friday. That was very impressive.
Jazz sugard Gordon Hayward, who missed the first meeting with the Cavs, had 18 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and two blocks. He is an outstanding player.
But he was about the only threat the Cavs had to worry about. Rookie guard Trey Burke got about 25 tickets for friends and family from Columbus. He was no match for Irving on the night.
The Cavs have won two in a row, as well as eight of their last 11. It's going to be a rugged game in Memphis on Saturday. They won't have Anderson Varejao to hound Zach Randolph on Saturday. He went after him in the first meeting.
I'm predicting right now that Varejao returns for the San Antonio game on Tuesday. Let's see how my Nostradamus-like prediction works out.
There's no way Brown can take Hawes out of the starting lineup. I wouldn't mess with Tristan Thompson, either. I'd bring Varejao off the bench with Tyler Zeller. That doesn't leave any minutes for Anthony Bennett, but it's about winning games right now.
The Cavs are 3 1/2 games behind No. 8 seed Atlanta for the final playoff spot in the East. the Cavs have 22 games remaining.
UP NEXT: The Cavs travel to Memphis at 9 p.m. Saturday at FedEx Forum.
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Derrick Favors (6-10, 268)