The Cavaliers have been pushed around by the Bulls all season, so it was big for the team to pick up the victory. And with star point guard Kyrie Irving out, the victory was even more impressive for the young Cavaliers
The Bulls have been struggling recently, but they are still a good team and this is a great win for the Cavaliers.
The main reason that this win is so important is that it shows that the Cavaliers have some depth and plenty of talent in addition to Irving. Guard Dion Waiters, for example, scored 25 points while shooting an efficient 10 for 16 and had an outstanding game. Waiters was scoring outside, driving to the rim and getting points for the Cavaliers whenever they needed it.
Guard Shaun Livingston started in place of Irving and scored 15 points while shooting 6 for 11. Livingston did a very good job of running the offense, and he was also solid on defense.
The one player who was key to closing the game out, though, was Luke Walton. That’s right, I said Luke Walton.
The veteran played more than 23 minutes against the Bulls and scored 8 points on 4 for 6 shooting. He led the Cavaliers in assists with 5 and he also had 5 rebounds. And without the services of Irving, who usually takes over for the Cavaliers late in the fourth quarter, Walton made several huge plays down the stretch.
In the closing minutes of the game, Walton was hitting huge shots and pulling down clutch rebounds. He even had a key steal and then threw the ball back against a Bulls player as he was going out of bounds so that the Cavaliers could keep possession of the ball.
It was great to see Walton playing so well, and it was surprising that he made so many key plays down the stretch. Watching the game, I kept saying, “Wait a minute, who did that? Luke Walton? Wow. Another big rebound for Walton! Really? Luke Walton? A steal for the Cavaliers! Another big play by Walton! Where did all of this come from?”
Walton has played well in several games this year for the Cavaliers, but he’s just not someone who fans expect to make a lot of big plays, especially in late-game situations. It was great to see him step up against the Bulls, though, and it was even better to see the Cavaliers take a step forward.
After losing the last three games to the Bulls this season, it was big for the Cavaliers to pick up a win in Chicago. And to do it without Irving and to have so many players step up is a great sign of a team that is improving and is building for the future.