Heading into Tuesday's match-up with the Sixers I really thought I was going to be talking about how J.J. Hickson responded to his coach questioning his desire to rebound on Monday with a monster game on the glass. Only that response came in the form of 2 rebounds, total, for the game. So there's not much more to say about that right now.
What, or who, I didn't expect to talk about was Jamario Moon or Joey Graham. The Cavs starting five has desperately needed a contribution from Moon. He came into Tuesday night averaging 5 points and 4 rebounds a game, an output that has helped contribute significantly to why the Cavs have ended up on the wrong side of “the diff” five times this season. Not Tuesday, however.
Moon finished with season highs in both points (13) and rebounds (8) and proved to be the catalyst in the third quarter hitting from deep on multiple occasions. Tied up at 54 apiece at halftime - heading towards a quarter the Cavs have been outscored in 8 of the previous 9 times -Moon was absolutely key in helping the Cavaliers build a 10 point advantage by the start of the 4th.
Hopefully this isn’t a once in a while performance for Jamario either. Because while I’m not asking him to set a new season high every night, I also don’t think 10 and 5 from your starting SF is too much to ask. They need production like this from Jamario Moon every night, and here’s hoping this is just the start.
It also might be the start of Joey Graham as a regular rotation player as well. Playing in place of Jawad Williams, who has used those minutes up to this point throughout the season to play consistently awful, Graham was a legitimate spark of the bench. He clocked in for 27 minutes of burn, went 6 of 11 from the field, hit a three, and finished with 13 points and 4 rebounds. More importantly to me though, he looked like he wanted to be there. He played hard, played aggressively, and I think he could pose mis-match problems for teams going forward this season.
Daniel Gibson also scored 18, and it takes me this long to get to him. That’s how good Gibson is playing right now, and that is how unsurprising it is that he scored 18. Daniel has been a consistent force off the bench so far, and was again against Philly at home on Tuesday as well. Think "consistent force" is overstating it? I don’t. Booby also dropped 8 dimes, as compared to zero TO’s, and grabbed 4 rebounds. Ballin.
Collectively, the Cavaliers had five guys in double figures (JM, JG, DG, AP, AJ), two more with nine (AV, RH), one guy with 8 (JH), and another with 7 (RS). So to rewind that back, that’s 9 players with 7 or more points. Read: ridiculously balanced. Only one other guy played for criss sakes, and he scored twice (Manny Harris).
While you won’t have nights this balanced every time out, the Cavaliers do need to have - I’d say - at least four guys in double figures to be effective. This isn’t a cliché for this team, it has to be a collective effort. The Cavaliers strength is their overall depth - a lot of guys who can contribute some. They all kicked in a little bit tonight and now they’re all evened up at 5-5 heading on the road for a couple tough ones.
Great to see Andy back and competing tonight as well (30 mins, 9-5) and hopefully Mo’s okay to go here on Friday down in New Orleans. Good win tonight fellas...thoughts and prayers out to Joe Tait. Feel better soon Joe.
All for now.