Maybe the Cavaliers are the pretty good team we all thought they would be and not actually doomed? Since LeBron James returned from his injury two weeks ago he has looked like the LeBron we knew—and not the broken down, maybe past his prime LeBron we'd seen previously this season—in leading the Cavs to a 7-1 record. But without him tonight against the Trail Blazers, it was reasonable to think that they would melt back into a helpless puddle of a team. And they basically did. Everyone, that is, except Kyrie Irving.

That's Irving sinking a game-winning three for his 51st, 52nd, and 53rd points of the night—he would add two more on free throws to finish with a double nickle—and the manner in which he did it was emblematic of his entire night. Whether being guarded by Damian Lillard, Steve Blake, Wesley Matthews, or anybody else, Irving casually took whatever he wanted. His 17-36 line is misleading, hiding a sneakily efficient 11-19 showing from three and 10-10 performance from the line. On a night when the next best Cavaliers scorer was Timofey Mozgov's 4-9, 12 point performance, Irving's gunning was desperately needed.


Cleveland is gaining ground on the rest of the East—except for the ridiculous Hawks—and it is not inconceivable that, when all is said and done, they'll nab the second seed in the playoffs. That didn't seem possible two weeks ago.