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Hill, Hood, Clarkson Post Strong Debuts; James Nears Triple-Double in Blowout Win; Three Takeaways

3. Defense finds premier form

Aside from the wealth of new contributors, the Cavaliers appeared to be playing a new brand of basketball right from the outset. Cedi Osman drew one-on-one coverage with Irving on a multitude of occasions, using his lateral movement to fend off a layup and mid-range jumper in the first quarter. Tristan Thompson jumped to his peak elevation, preventing Jayson Tatum from finishing a dunk. A rejuvenated J.R. Smith posterized Aron Baynes on offense before emphatically blocking a three-point attempt by Semi Ojeleye.

Those were just the plays from the first 10 minutes of the one-sided affair.

Cleveland furthered its momentum throughout each quarter, limiting the Celtics to 20 points in the second, 22 points in the third and 25 points in the fourth. There were nine ties and 13 lead changes, none of which came in the second half.

The Cavs led by as many as 29 points, a convincing statement that they are still capable of returning to the NBA Finals for a fourth straight season.

John Alfes has covered Cleveland sports since August of 2016. Follow him on Twitter @JohnAlfes for breaking news and in-depth coverage all season long.

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John Alfes is a senior at John Carroll University, and hails from Westlake, Ohio. His love and passion for the game of baseball originated in 1998, when he played catch with his father at the age of two. A former collegiate pitcher, Alfes currently serves as a Cleveland Cavaliers reporter for AP Radio/Metro Networks and the Cleveland Indians Beat Writer for CBS Sports/Scout Media Network, all while majoring in Communications (focus in Journalism) and English (focus in Professional Writing). He is the Sports Editor for The Carroll News, Sports Director for WJCU 88.7 FM and Senior Writer for the John Carroll Sports Information Department. John is an Eagle Scout and loves his two younger brothers (Conrad and Daniel) and two parents (John and Celeste). You can follow John Alfes on Twitter (@JohnAlfes) or reach him through email (

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