From tip-off to the first whistle, I knew that this was going to be a physical and hard fought battle between two heavyweights in the NBA. Anderson Varejao was the game MVP for the Cavaliers, as he scored 23 points on 11-16 shooting, and 11 rebounds. He tirelessly fought off Tim Duncan in the paint and threw his body around to give a physical presence to the Cavaliers line-up. Kyrie Irving was able to shoot efficiently from the 3 point line (3-4) and he was a menace for Tony Parker to deal with. Irving also recorder 3 steals and handled the ball superbly, only turning the ball over twice. LeBron James and Kevin Love could never get themselves going in the game it seemed like. LeBron’s first shot was a 3 pointer that he made, and it seemed like an eternity the next time he made a shot. To the Spurs credit, they played excellent defense on Love and LeBron the entire game, and the two were unable to create much space for themselves.

First Half: Strong Inside Game

{adinserter 2} The physicality of Anderson Varejao on both ends of the floor was the biggest impact in the game so far. He was frequently matched up against Tim Duncan but was able to come away with 12 points on 6-9 shooting, 5 rebounds and a block while Tim Duncan had 13 points on a poor 5-12 from the field. As a team, 7 of the Cavaliers 16 field goal makes came from inside the paint, as Dion Waiters, LeBron James, and Tristan Thompson all had scores from underneath the basket. While Varejao was able to keep Tim Duncan at bay, the Spurs were able to score 9 of their 15 field goals from inside the paint, an area the Cavaliers need to improve on. The Cavaliers had an offensive jolt right under the 3 minute mark for the second quarter, as Kyrie Irving scored 8 points in just underneath a minute of play time giving the Cavaliers an 8-0 run. Despite the Cavaliers run, Manu Ginobili, Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard were able to score inside the paint to end the Cavaliers run. At the end of two the score was 47-44, overall a good first half for the Cavs vs a very good team in the Spurs.

Second Half: Inconsistent shooting and poor inside offense dooms Cavs

It was such a great effort from the boys in Wine and Gold but it was not enough to overcome one of the best teams in the NBA. The Cavaliers took 36 second half shots and only made 12 of them, and that is certainly not good enough if they are going to beat a team like the Spurs. 12 of those 22 misses came in crunch time of the game in the 4th quarter. The game went back and forth throughout the 3rd and the 4th with no significant runs from either team. It was a struggle for both Kevin Love and LeBron James, as the duo shot a combined 10-29 for the game, scored only 25 points and turned the ball over 7 times. There were some bright spots for the Cavaliers however. Anderson Varejao continued his dominance in the paint, finishing with 23 points on 11-16 shooting, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks, and Kyrie Irving shot an efficient 3-4 from 3, while scoring 20 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals. Boris Diaw and Tim Duncan once again stole the show for San Antonio. The big man duo each had 19 points, made key passes to set up their teammates, and the entire Spurs offense flowed through them all night. Diaw made a key 3 late in the game to put the Spurs up 1 with under 1:30 left to play.

Final Takeaways

This was a big game for the Cleveland Cavaliers even though we are only 10 games into the season. It is a sort of a “measuring stick” game as I like to call it, what I mean by measuring stick is that it’s a game versus premier competition of another team. That premier competition tonight was defending NBA Champion, San Antonio Spurs, and the Cavaliers effort was not enough to prevail over them. The Cavaliers however were in the game for the entire duration, and looked threatening every time they had the basketball in San Antonio’s defensive zone. The Cavaliers need to recoup, and find more creative ways to get LeBron James and Kevin Love open because a team that plays like San Antonio is what the Cavaliers should expect from their own play. The unfortunate turnover by LeBron James was somewhat of a paradox of the game itself, as the Cavaliers always looked threatening entering the Spurs defensive zone, but were too inconsistent in times that they needed to convert. The Cavaliers have lost 2 in a row now, and will look to bounce back this Friday in Washington vs the 7-3 Wizards.