OAKLAND, CALIF.: Eleven thoughts following another improbable 103-94 win over the Golden State Warriors…
1. It’s funny how coaches react so differently to the same game. Here was the first thing Warriors coach Mark Jackson said: “Just a bad loss for us.” And the first thing Mike Brown said: “This is a good win.”
2. I tend to side with Brown on this one. Good teams can kick away games they should win against bad teams, and certainly you can make a strong argument the Warriors should win home games when they lead by 18.
3. But the Cavs won this game, the Warriors didn’t lose it. They made timely shots, they defended well, they were aggressive diving after loose balls. The Warriors were without Klay Thompson, which certainly hurt them at both ends. Jackson typically uses Thompson to defend Kyrie Irving, but Irving slumped in the first half and the Cavs still rallied.
4. “They were the aggressor in the second half and a lot of times the whistle goes to the aggressor, rightfully so,” Warriors forward David Lee said. “We just didn’t play a good game on either end.”
5. I thought this was one of Dion Waiters’ best games of the season. Jarrett Jack, unprompted, said the same thing. Waiters hustled defensively, he took shots within the rhythm of the offense. His play in the second quarter is the reason the Cavs were even in this game in the second half. Huge, huge night for Waiters. Now he has to do it again and again.
6. Consistency has been a problem for a lot of the young players this season, Waiters included. He didn’t hustle defensively in Wednesday’s win at Phoenix, which is why his minutes were limited. When he plays hard at both ends, as he did against the Warriors, he’s terrific.
7. The Cavs have now scored victories this season against the second, third, sixth and eighth seeds in the West. It’s quite difficult to explain how a team can play so well against some of the league’s best teams, then consistently struggle to beat the Charlotte Bobcats.
8. The Cavs have won six of their last eight games against the West and improved to 12-15 against West teams this season. They’ve also beaten 10 of the 15 teams in the West at least once and can add to that figure next week when they host the Houston Rockets.
9. If you can figure out this team, you’re the only one. The Cavs have a higher winning percentage against the high-powered West (.444) than the East (.359).
10. “I just think we're fighting for each other, and that's a lot of fun,” Jack said. “When you go out there and you're fighting for another person's goals, I think that shows a lot about a team.”
11. This team loses a pair of crucial games to the Bobcats and Knicks, rendering them essentially dead in the East. Then they came out here and won two straight with the opportunity Sunday to sweep the road trip. Talk to you Sunday from Los Angeles.