Kyrie Irving didn’t play, but that was hardly a problem for the Cavs
The Cleveland Cavaliers are now 18-5. They are the NBA champs. There are some soft spots in the armor, perhaps, but this is a very good team. A year ago at this time, Kyrie Irving was coming back from a devastating knee injury. Many had expected Kevin Love to assert himself in Irving’s absence, show the multi-faceted offensive game that made him a superstar in Minnesota.
There were flashes of it, sure. But all in all, the results were underwhelming. Coach David Blatt just never seemed all that interested in finding ways to showcase Love. A year later, and Irving, Love, and LeBron James are all clicking at once. They aren’t taking turns, they’re all just fitting in. Irving sat out tonight’s game to rest. A year later, Kevin Love dominated in his absence.
Your Cleveland Cavaliers 103, the Memphis Grizzlies 86.
Love finished with 29 points on 17 shots, grabbed 13 rebounds and handed out three assists. He scored from everywhere and made all eight of his free throw attempts. The Grizzlies, even while hurt, are a pretty good defensive team, but they had no answers tonight. LeBron James found him time and time again.
J.R. Smith enjoyed a bounce back game, scoring 23 points and giving the Cavs some timely baskets. He’s had a rough go of it this year and is a little banged up. He’s playing through it a bit, but you have to believe his shooting will stabilize. Perhaps tonight was the start of that.
One other thing to note is that the Cavs really excelled scoring in the paint. Their very good offense is generally pretty dependent on threes (not a bad thing), but it’s nice to see they can diversify things a bit.
If you’re Memphis, you just chalk this game up as a Marc Gasol rest game. I’d guess LeBron James sits tomorrow and they’ll have a good chance at home. See you in the comments.