CANTON,Ohio- This past week didn’t start off exactly the way Cleveland had hoped for, but it ended the way they wanted it to. With a strong finish to last week, the Cavaliers will look to continue their strong play, but they’ll be playing teams that have playoff expectations.
Hawks vs Cavs-(Tues, Nov 8th, 2016)- This had the feel of a playoff game. Cleveland has owned Atlanta lately, both in the regular season, and the playoffs. The Cavs have swept the Hawks in the playoffs the last two seasons. Atlanta was determined to show Cleveland that you can’t just show up being the champs and win. Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder led the way for Atlanta. Cleveland had a chance in the final 2:00 minutes of the game but Bazemore was left open in the corner and buried a three pointer as the Hawks handed Cleveland their first loss of the season 106-110. So much for 82-0.
Cavs vs Wizards- (Friday, Nov 11th, 2016)- Before the Cavaliers took on Washington, they had a date at the White House. Obama did a great job of giving the Cavs their due credit, along with acknowledging how much the championship mean’t to the city of Cleveland and their fans. Now onto the actual game. If you read last weeks Cavs weekly posting, you might remember that I actually picked this as the game that Cleveland would lose first. Instead it was the game before against Atlanta.
Once Cleveland picked up their defense it was pretty much over. 105-94 was the final from Washington D.C. as Cleveland got a nice road win.
Hornets vs Cavs- (Sunday, Nov 13th, 2016)- How confident is Tyronn Lue in his Cavalier bench? Well, with J.R. Smith having a sprained ankle, Lue decided to stick LeBron out on the floor in the 4th quarter of a close game with Charlotte with bench players. The group played well together. Channing Frye led all Cavaliers with 20 points while Kevin Love continues to look more and more comfortable. Love is a double-double machine. Best part? He’s not forcing the three point shot. His inside game looks much better this year. Cavs knock off another playoff team in the East with a 100-93 win over the Hornets.
Raptors vs Cavs- ( Tuesday, Nov 15th, 2016)- Cleveland won the Eastern conference finals rematch in their first meeting this year in Toronto 94-91 when Kyrie hit a three pointer from the top of the key. The Raptors will look for revenge yet again. Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan is on fire averaging 34 PPG. If Cleveland can slow down DeRozan or Lowry, they have a good chance of winning this game.
Cavs vs Pacers- (Wednesday, Nov 16th, 2016)- It’s the first matchup between these two teams. It’s also, what I feel, will be our first preview of the Eastern conference finals this year. Yes, I said it. I know, Indiana is 4-6 right now. But as the season goes along, I think they have the second best team in the East behind Cleveland and as the season goes on, their chemistry will get better. I don’t want to forget to mention that this is a back to back as Cleveland will play against two quality teams.
Pistons vs Cavs- ( Friday, Nov 18th, 2016)- Speaking of back to backs. This isn’t a day wise back to back, but Cleveland will be playing against two Central division rivals. While Cleveland swept Detroit in the playoffs last season, it wasn’t an easy series. Detroit forced Cleveland to play their A game to win each of the 4 games. Andre Drummond is a tough matchup for, not only Tristan Thompson, but any other center in the league. His only flaw? Foul shooting. But imagine if Andre Drummond could develop a consistent 15 foot bank shot like Tim Duncan had. That’s a scary thought. Cleveland must avoid Drummond taking over in the paint. If that happens, that will allow Detroit to get open looks from deep.
How great is it that this Cavalier team is already playing at a high level. What’s scary? Their not even playing their best basketball yet. What might be even more impressive? Out of the five main statistical categories, LeBron James in only the leader of one! That’s assists. James is averaging 9 assists a game! Right now, hes been so close to averaging a triple-double each game.
I agree when people say it’s the point guards job to lead the team in that category but let me make this statement. When James is on the floor, he has the best vision and passing ability out of any player on the floor. That includes both teams. Sure, Irving will make a few nice passes here and there, but he’s a shooter stuck in a point guards body. Head coach Lue knows this and that’s why you see Kyrie on the floor the whole first quarter while James sits out the final 3 minutes or so of the first quarter. That allows James to come in to play point in the second quarter.
The benefit of having both Irving and James being able to play the point guard role is simple. It’s a matchup nightmare for teams. You have Irving who has arguably the best dribbles in the NBA and can shoot from long range. Then you have LeBron who can post up the smaller point guards. Once James gets into the post, he’s forcing the defense to double or triple him which in return gives his shooters wide open three pointers.
This offense is so tough to defend and the defense is playing the passing lanes so well right now. Again, isn’t it scary to think that this Cavalier group will get even better?
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Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Nick Broulis