I had the Cavs dead and buried with 7:15 left in their Monday game against Miami. They were mentally and physically gassed and looked like they were emotionally already on the plane home.
The Cavs trailed the Miami Heat 91-80 at that aforementioned 7:15 mark and it seemed like every Heat possession was a jailbreak to the rim with Cavalier defenders few and far between.
It was looking a lot like a 2-2 road trip.
And 2-2 on this trip, with the Ben Wallace injury and the fatigue considered, was good enough for me.
But it wasn't good enough for the Cavaliers, as they've done quite a few times this season, the team flipped that switch.
Over the next 7 minutes Cleveland emptied whatever was left in the tanks. A 27-9 run over the final 7:13 that was keyed by LeBron James and Mo Williams hitting big shots and making bigger defensive plays put the Cavs back on that plane to Cleveland with a heart-pounding 107-100 win over Dwyane Wade and the Heat. The win also gave the good guys an improbable 3-1 record on this gantlet of a trip that started miserably in Houston 4 days ago.
That was as satisfying a win as the Cavs have earned all season. Per usual the effort was led by LBJ. 42 points, 8 boards and 4 assists sets a nice pace. And Mo Williams stepped right to the forefront with LBJ when it was needed most. Williams poured in 30 points and added 7 rebounds and 7 assists of his own. James and Williams followed up big baskets by spearheading a suffocating defensive effort in the last five minutes of the game as well.
Wade packed the box score full of numbers with 41 points, 7 rebounds and 9 assists but he became a non-factor in the game's final minutes.
That was a big, impressive win in a season full of big impressive wins.
Wade may have actually statistically out-played James. The 7 steals and 9 assists to go with his 41 points were impressive. But James came up big not only on the floor late in the game but also in the way he clearly compelled his teammates to step up and get the win. Leadership isn't always tangible. On Monday night in Miami it was.
Two Williams free throws moments later iced the ballgame.
Say what you will about Varejao. But when the slop hits the fan and things get aggressive and frenetic like they did in the 4th quarter Monday night he can keep the pace and add some value with his hustle, his energy and his ability to make a play or get a whistle.
To be fair, Pavlovic hasn't made any of those poor plays in the last three weeks.
Okay, so he hasn't played in that time either and inserting him into a game being played at a breakneck pace and having him on Wade probably wasn't Brown's shining moment as Cavaliers coach. But damn, there are no mediocre nights for Sasha. He's either really good or just flat out awful. And Monday night, though it wasn't his fault, he was not really good.
They Got Next
It's Milwaukee at ‘The Q' on Wednesday evening (7pm) and then a chance to put a bit of distance between themselves and the Celtics Friday night in Boston (8pm, ESPN). Six games in nine nights for the Cavs, only one of them at home, and with no easy outs in the mix. The fun continues.