It's been a weird year for the Cleveland Cavaliers. They've dominated games from start to finish. They've started off slow and finished strong. They've won with offense and they've won with defense. They've even won with offense and defense.
Through all the inconsistent ways the Cavs have played through seven games, there's one thing that has been a constant: making plays when it matters most. And that's what they did in today's 101-97 win over the Indiana Pacers, their sixth straight.
Despite leading for most of the game, the Cavs never really had a firm grip. When the Cavs would make a run, the Pacers would come right back, even when it looked like the Cavs had them on the rope and in their corner -- or quarter.
The third quarter has been the Cavs best quarter through seven games, possessing a lead-leading 27.3 net rating in that quarter.
It was that period where the Cavs started to pull away, taking a 71-60 lead with 3:31 left in the quarter. Yet when the fourth quarter started, the Cavs only led by one, 74-73.
Both teams would jockey back-and-forth over the final 12 minutes of the game, each team making their own runs to make it a one possession game down the stretch. After Monta Ellis hit two free throws, the Cavs had the ball with 44.3 seconds left and a 95-92 lead. Would the Cavs give away a game they should have won, or would they put the game away?
As it has been most of the season, it was the latter, with LeBron James finding an open Kevin Love not once, but twice over the game's final possessions to put the game out of reach.
Love, who started out the game missing seven of his first eight shots, finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds. Even with the early struggled, Love was active all over, especially on the defensive end. He blocked three shots and made plenty of plays that don't necessarily show up in the box score, altering a pair of shots and even stopping a three-on-one fast break by the Pacers -- plays that make a difference in a close game.
Another difference-maker for the Cavs? The bench, was continued to look outstanding this year and being an asset instead of crutch for them. Cavs' coach David Blatt didn't go deep onto his bench, but the guys he played all had an impact for them. Tristan Thompson finished with 16 points (on 7-of-8 shooting) and eight rebounds. Matthew Dellavedova had a game-high nine assists. Even Jared Cunningham contributed, finishing with five points in nine minutes on the court.
Through seven games, everything has been thrown at the Cavs. They won road game by 30 on the second night of a back-to-back. They led by 20 in the fourth quarter after facing a 15-point deficit. They won a game today in which it was back-and-forth for nearly all 48 minutes.
It doesn't seem to matter what the Cavs face or how they play, one thing is for certain: they're finding ways to win. And for a team with as much talent as the Cavs have, it only makes them that more deadly going forward.