Tonight was both the start of a four game road trip, and the first game after completing a 10 games in 15 days stretch for the Cleveland Cavaliers. After having Sunday and Monday off, it stood for reason that the team might have a bit of extra energy for the Dallas Mavericks.
They did. Your Cleveland Cavaliers 127, the Dallas Mavericks 94. It was as close to a complete team win as you might see on the road against a Western Conference team that already has 41 wins. The Mavs may not be playing their best basketball right now, but they are still a pretty good team. It just didn't matter tonight.
It starts, as you might imagine, with LeBron James. He had 27 points on 14 shots, seven rebounds, eight assists, just two turnovers. He hit some threes, he attacked the lane, he distributed, he played smart. This was quietly one of his best games of the season. He set the tone. He also didn't wear a headband, which people care about I guess. Kyrie Irving was similarly incredible, pushing the pace, picking his spots, putting constant pressure on the Dallas defense. 22 points, 13 shots, five rebounds, five assists. When these two click, the Cavs offense is really tough.
Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith, and Kevin Love took turns supplementing these guys. I thought Mozgov had a tough first quarter, but was simply great after that. He was active, challenged shots, got up and down the floor, and finished with 17 points. Kevin Love similarly got off to a rough start, at least shooting the ball. He was making decent passes and rebounding, but he got hot shooting in the third quarter. 21 points, 14 rebounds, two assists. He's multi-skilled in ways that not many guys around the league can really match.
Smith was getting wide open looks from James and Irving all night, but was even hitting threes off the bounce. When he does that, you just throw your hands up. He was 5-8 from three point range and scored 21 points. If those points come from the flow of the offense, you take that. Tonight, for the most part, they did.
If there is something to complain about, it might be either Tristan Thompson or Matthew Dellavedova. Both had a couple difficult moments in the second quarter. They both did other productive things at various points in the game. Every Cavaliers starter had a +/- above 20. It's just not worth focusing on the negative tonight. I'm sure we will all do our best to do just that, though.
The Cavs take on the Spurs in San Antonio Thursday night. They are playing incredible basketball lately, so the Cavs will have to play ... pretty similar to how they did tonight if they want to win. We will see you tomorrow.