The Cleveland Cavaliers received positive news prior to the game when head coach Mike Brown and his staff decided center Andrew Bynum is healthy enough to be active. Quicken Loans Arena was alive and the fans were tremendous as the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Brooklyn Nets 98-94 on Wednesday night.
In the closing minutes of the game Kyrie Irving had the ball in his hands and was making plays. With 28 seconds left Irving found Anderson Varejao at the free throw line and Varejao hit the open jumper. Irving made some clutch free throws, four in the final 14 seconds, to seal the deal and the Cleveland Cavaliers are 1-0 to start the 2013-14 NBA season.
Andrew Bynum played eight minutes and having his low post presence on defense gave Cavs fans and Mike Brown a glimpse of how special this team could be. Bynum had three points, three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in limited action. Bynum finished with a plus-minus of +8, second best on the team as rookie Anthony Bennett had a +10 in 15 minutes of action. Bennett contributed two points and five rebounds in his NBA debut.
In the first half, the Cavaliers were led by Jarrett Jack as he scored 12 points and had three rebounds and three assists in 23 minutes of action, in large part due to Irving’s foul trouble. Four of the five starters scored in double figures: Tristan Thompson led the way with 18 and had nine boards, Irving 15 with seven rebounds and nine dimes, Varejao had 11 points and eight boards, Waiters added three steals with 11 points. C.J. Miles was the other Cavaliers player in double figures as he pitched in 10 points.
Earl Clark was the lone starter not in double figures as he ended with nine and eight rebounds. Clark hit a pair of nice mid-range jumpers down the stretch in the fourth quarter and more importantly held Paul Pierce to 17 points.
The Nets “Big Three” addition of Kevin Garnett, Pierce and Jason Terry combined for 39 points and Terry hit two three pointers late in the game to keep the Nets in a one possession game. Brook Lopez led the team in scoring as he had a game high 21 points. Deron Williams sat out the fourth quarter and the Nets will need Williams to be healthy as this season has become a championship or bust in Brooklyn.