2016-17 NBA Season Weekly Recap: Cavs
Last time we spoke, the almighty Cleveland Cavaliers looked anything but mighty. They were on a three-game losing streak; longest such of the season. After a loss to the Bulls, LeBron James said it was time for his team to snap out of the complacency and start playing up to their capabilities. Could they bounce back against potentially their biggest hurdle to come out of the East, the Toronto Raptors?
Yes. The answer was yes. The Cavs’ national nightmare was finally over after holding on to defeat Toronto 116-112. Cleveland rode Love’s big first half (20 points) to overcome poor defense. JR Smith left the game after landing a little awkwardly on his knee and did not return. Reports out of the Cleveland locker room are positive, insisting that once JR gets some Henny back in his system, the knee will start to heal itself. Good news. LeBron scored his season-high 34 points to go along with eight rebound and seven assists. Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph always find ways to make it tough on the other guard, as they did against Kyrie. Irving coughed up the ball six times but finished the game with 24 points and seven assists (thought he didn’t pass?). Cleveland moves to 3-0 on the season against their so-called conference rivals. Toronto looks up at to Cleveland as a measuring stick, making every single move specifically to beat the LeBron-led squad but there’s one thing that Toronto has that Cleveland doesn’t, and that is Demar Derozan and his lumpy face playing defense for them. As long as Demar is playing porous defense, Toronto will always be the little brother (just like Canada is to the world, pretty much).
The Warriors stole headlines this summer when they acquired KD through free agency, becoming the latest, and possibly greatest, super-team to grace the league. But the REAL super-team the league has to offer plays its home games at the mecca, Madison Square Garden. Cleveland was just lucky to be able to share the court with a team as talented as the Knickerbockers from New York. In true super-team fashion, Cleveland smacked the Knicks to the tune of 126-94. I’m not sure the Knicks knew they had a game, actually. Shit was over as soon as it started. Kyrie, Bron and Love, all took turns grabbing the shovel and digging New York’s grave. Cleveland’s first half defense forced eight turnovers leading to 18 fast break points. When Cleveland is getting out on the break and forcing turnovers, they are a nightmare to deal with (Knicks found this out). Carmelo put up a solid eight points, while his counterpart put up 25 on 7 for 10 shooting.
Cavs took a two-game win streak back to Cleveland as the shorthanded Heat came to visit. JR and Frye both sat out which meant there was even more pressure on the big three to all play well. They did just that as Love, Bron, and Kyrie combined for 78 points. Remember when they couldn’t seem to have good games at the same time? Seems like an eternity ago. Deandre Liggins had a very good showing, playing in place of the injured JR Smith. He adds a perimeter defender the Cavs badly need. If he keeps giving Cleveland quality minutes, he’ll have a chance to crack the rotation after JR gets back from his Henny cleanse. Cavs took this one easily, 114 to 84, pushing their win streak to three games. Oh yeah, and LeBron moved into 9th place on the all-time scoring list; nothing major. Cleveland had its second game in as many nights as the Hornets came to town. JR returned to the starting lineup after missing time with the knee injury. LeBron reminded us all why he is still the class of the league, dropping a 44-10-9 stat line. The biggest storyline from the game was the continued excellent shooting by... Iman Shumpert. Yes, you read that correctly. Shumpert has been lights out from the field recently. Per 36 minutes, Shump is shooting 47% on 4.6 three-point attempts per game (34% since joining Cleveland); important to monitor if the regression to the mean occurs. Cavs brought their winning streak to four games with a 116-105 win over the very solid Charlotte Hornets.
The week saw Cleveland find itself, going 4-0 in fairly impressive fashion. They were so good, LeBron James & Co. were able to tackle the water bottle challenge during the game just to kill time against the super team New York Knicks squad. They’ll have two days rest before taking on the ever-dangerous Memphis Grizzlies, who just so happened to blowout the Warriors.