This one was without a doubt the most exciting eastern conference game yet this season and perhaps even the best overall game of the year. The Cleveland Cavaliers finally snapped the Washington Wizards home win streak with a 140-135 overtime victory last night. The Wizards streak dates back to December 6th where they lost to the Orlando Magic. The Wizards season has really been a tale of two seasons, for the first month or two they looked like one of the worst teams in the eastern conference. Now they sit fourth in the East and just one game behind the Raptors for third and look prime for the remainder of the season.
This game had everything, great performances from John Wall, Bradley Beal, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and LeBron James. The last eight minutes, including overtime, was a track meet with a combined 61 points score, almost unimaginable. Featuring big shots and plays from all the stars named above. In the final seconds, the game, of course seemed to rest in LeBron’s hands. James blew past Wall and missed a point-blank layup with 3.4 seconds down one, it seemed all but over for the Cavs. After Wall makes both free throws, now down 3 the Cleveland Cavaliers have Kevin Love, known for his outlet passes, inbound the ball. Love delivers a beauty to LeBron who dribbles once while fading into the Wizards bench to only bank the 3 with 0.3 seconds to go! Unbelievable! What a change of events, overtime baby! Just fifty-seven seconds into overtime, LeBron uncharacteristically bites on Bradley Beal’s pump fake and fouls out of the game. On the road and LeBron-less it looked grim for Cleveland, until Kyrie Irving dropped 11 of his 23 in overtime. This including a 3-point dagger nearly identical to the one he hit against Golden State in Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the man has ice in his veins. What a game.
I don’t normally believe in win-win scenarios, but for me this one is a win all across the board. For Cleveland, this is huge, as they’ve been struggling of late, a win over an up and coming team that was smoking hot at home instills confidence. It also reminds everyone that even though they have there are peaks and valleys, ebbs and flows if you will, Cleveland is the team to beat and the reigning NBA champions. Love, amid heavy trade rumors, came in with 39 points 12 rebounds and of course that gorgeous inbound pass to James, further solidifying the chances he stays and helping reaffirm the Cavs chances of repeating this year. Yes, I know Love isn’t a great matchup against Golden State, but to trade him for another star of similar talent and expect for it to all mesh over the last thirty games is completely unrealistic and wishful thinking. If they want to trade him that’s fine but they will most likely trade away any chances of a ring this year along with him unless they can truly pull off something magical and unforeseen.
Even though the Wizards lost their win streak and I normally don’t believe in moral victories, if there ever was to be one, this is it. Washington was toe to toe with Cleveland throughout while having their stars shine as well as a great performance from the up and coming Otto Porter Jr. who had 26 and went 5-7 from deep. Morris and “the polish hammer” Marcin Gortat continue to be staples down low and do the dirty work, while Beal and Wall use their flash and sharp shooting continue to be one of the courts best backcourt duos. This game was a test for them if they can hang with the best in the east, and although they didn’t win they can surely hang and then some. Providing NBA fans with one of the best thrillers of the year. Which leads me to the last win, the fans, aside from an incredible game it shows us that the Eastern Conference finals may not be all peaches and cream for Cleveland. Don’t write them in just yet as a shoe in for the Finals, I smell something and it’s a Wizards-Cavaliers Eastern Conference Finals matchup. NBA fans are sick of seeing the likes of the woeful Atlanta Hawks and the overrated Toronto Raptors get dismantled by Cleveland, give me Washington or give me death!