The Cavs looked a lot more comfortable against the Grizzlies tonight, sailing to a 106-76 road victory, with Kevin Love leading the way with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Right out of the gate, the Cavs looked more physical and in better rhythm than last night, helping them to jump out to 26-10 after the first quarter. A big part of that was focusing on tempo, trying to create easy opportunities in transition, which allowed them to hide that their half-court offensive game can currently be a bit fragile when LeBron doesn’t have the ball in his hands. Everything was coming easily and the Cavs headed into halftime up 53-32, with Kevin Love leading all scores (11) and rebounders (11). He looked more comfortable and aggressive in the paint, fighting harder for boards and —when he got them —instantly looking for those insanely long and accurate outlet passes that make the other team look silly for not getting back on defense. Sometimes, in the opener, he looked shaky and out of place, but that wasn’t the case in Memphis. Hesitance was replaced with confidence. Plus, he might be the most underrated passer in the NBA.
The second half was so smooth it was boring and void of anything particularly notable, making the biggest storyline the debut of Sasha Kaun, who kind of plays like a Mozgov clone that was born with two left feet, somehow managing to be really awkward and really smart at the same time. He’s a nice insurance policy. But, anyway, here’s a few trends that developed/continued:
The game was also an indication toward something we all kind of figured — Mo Williams is a really nice role player for a contender. He finished with 9 point from 3 three pointers. During LeBron’s first tenure, when he was asked to be the team’s second best player, Williams couldn’t never break into the upper echelon of NBA talent, and because of this — and a series of awful trades and draft picks — LeBron never had an elite sidekick back then. But now, with Love and Irving, that expectation doesn’t exist anymore and him being a walking heat check fits into this roster much better.
Mozgov doesn’t look like he lost any mobility coming off of surgery. Half of that is probably due to his defensive IQ being high — going straight up with contact, hiding his lack of speed by being in the right position, anticipating well — but still, combing knee injuries and seven footers can be a recipe for dumpster fires.
The bench put together a strong game, with Richard Jefferson scoring 14 and Delly putting up 12.Ultimately, it was a master’s class in how to not make LeBron decide to take a two week vacation before the All-Star Break. Also, long live Jared Cunningham iso ball when the game is out of reach.