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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Game 69: Thunder at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio/TV: WTAM (1100 AM)/Fox Sports Ohio

WHAT HAPPENED?: The Cavs have obviously fallen out of the Eastern Conference playoff race, but they are still competing.

They are playing without two of their top three scorers in Kyrie Irving and Luol Deng. Well, they do have Shane Edwards, who scored his first NBA field goals on Thursday. That's good because many expect him to be sent on his way on Friday.

Fans are going to get a long look at Dion Waiters as their lead guard. He matched his season high with 30 points on Thursday. He made 11 of 25 shots. Every game, he's good for five really bad shots, and five dazzling shots.

He's a very talented player, especially on offense. In many ways, he's still learning the nuances of the game: When to pass, when to drive, when to shoot. 

One of the things that went wrong with this season has been in the inability of the Cavs to figure out how to play Waiters and Irving together. Jarrett Jack was signed to be the third guard. He's been forced to start and play major minutes.

He was called into Coach Mike Brown's office after the game. He probably wasn't called in there for Brown to tell him how well he played.

Then, after the game, unsolicited, Waiters said he has to improve his focus rebounding the ball. He had just two rebounds on the night. The Cavs were destroyed on the boards, 53-36.

If Brown wanted to get on someone's case about lack of rebounding, perhaps he could have said a few words to 7-1 center Spencer Hawes. He had just three rebounds on the night, zero in the first half.

Poor Alonzo Gee. He's been moved into the starting lineup because of the sprained ankle to Deng. Deng, swingman C.J. Miles and Sergey Karasev were sidelined for Thursday's game. I watched Deng try to move around after practice on Tuesday, and it wasn't pretty. He has no lateral movement right now.

So, Gee will go from guarding LeBron James to defending the league's top scorer in Kevin Durant. Durant doesn't do as many things as James does, but he's a pure shooter. He's 6-9 and extremely long. His shot is almost impossible to block.

Gee tried to make him work. Durant finished with 35 points and 11 rebounds. He's a remarkable player.

He came into the game averaging 31.8 points, 7.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.35 steals. He's shooting 50.7 percent from the field and 40.4 percent from behind the arc.

Those numbers could earn him the MVP award at the end of the season. James has won each of the last two awards.

Miles tried to play against the Heat and left the game after two minutes. They'll likely sit him down for a couple games after his setback.

UP NEXT: The Cavs host Houston at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Quicken Loans Arena.

SF Alonzo Gee (6-6, 219) vs. Kevin Durant (6-9, 240)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-9, 236) vs. Serge Ibaka (6-10, 245)
C Spencer Hawes (7-1, 245) vs. Steven Adams (7-0, 255)
SG Dion Waiters (6-4, 225) vs. Andre Roberson (6-7, 210)
PG Jarrett Jack (6-3, 200) vs. Reggie Jackson (6-3, 208)
Cavs - G Kyrie Irving, G Carrick Felix
Thunder G Thabo Sefolosha, C Kendrick Perkins
Jason Phillips, Brian Forte, Ben Taylor


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