On Wednesday, Feb. 15, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the struggling Indiana Pacers 98-87 to improve their season record to 11-16. The Pacers lost their fifth straight game.
Here are three thoughts on the game:
Kyrie Irving returns
Cavs rookie Kyrie Irving missed three games with a concussion, but you wouldn't have known it from his play on Wednesday night. The young point guard scored 22 points on 8 of 12 shooting with five assists and three rebounds. More importantly, Irving played 37 minutes without any hint of his injury. He produced one of his steadiest games as a Cavalier, and I think it's safe to say Irving is healthy and ready to go. Hopefully, the time off also gave Irving some time to recover from the NBA's condensed schedule.
Semih Erden finds his place
Cavs center Semih Erden has been stuck on the bench for much of his brief NBA career. Now in his third season, Erden has an opportunity to find his place in the league with Anderson Varejao out with a wrist injury. Erden took his chance and ran with it against the Pacers. He scored 18 points and added eight rebounds in 32 minutes, which helped solidify the Cavs frontcourt.
Erden's game isn't without its flaws. However, if last night's game is an indication of his potential, I think Erden has a chance to establish himself as a starter in the NBA. Varejao is out for at least a month. If there is ever a time for Erden to show that he can play in this league, this is it.
Ramon Sessions keeps his minutes
Despite Irving's return, Ramon Sessions still managed to get nearly 30 minutes on the floor against the Pacers. I think that's a huge reason why the Cavs beat the Pacers. He was a perfect 5 for 5 from the floor last night, including 2 of 2 from three-point range. Sessions also added four assists, four rebounds and two steals. Sessions shouldn't be on the sidelines with the numbers he puts up when he's on the floor. I hope the Cavs keep finding ways to get Sessions some playing time. Cavs head coach Byron Scott would be foolish to leave one of the team's few playmakers on the bench.
Derek Ciapala has followed the Cavs since the days of Mark Price and Brad Daugherty. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala.