In their final big test before the playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers dismantled the Memphis Grizzlies tonight, winning by a final score of 111-89. It was their final regular season game against a team from the West, and they put forth an incredibly impressive performance on the road.
The Grizzlies, for those of you who are unfamiliar, came into the game with the second-best record in the West. They had won five of their last six. They're third in the NBA in defensive efficiency.
The Cavs went into their building and just picked them apart. They built a 13-point halftime lead, and then increased it with an explosive third quarter during which they outscored the Grizzlies 36-24. The Cavs were 9-of-14 from the floor during that quarter, including 5-of-9 from three-point range.
Every member of the big three contributed to the win. LeBron James had 20 points, eight boards, and five assists. Kyrie Irving scored 24 points. Kevin Love had a double-double, with 22 points and 10 boards. He was 10-of-13 from the floor, and he also handed out four assists. When all three of those guys are playing well on offense, they can't really be stopped.
It also helps when the team as a whole moves the ball, which they did tonight. As a team, they had 30 assists on 43 made shots.
The Cavs now have nine games left, all against the East. Six of them are at home. They have a real chance to finish the season strong while hopefully getting some opportunities to rest guys before the postseason.
Prior to the season, LeBron made an effort to downplay expectations. But make no mistake, the way this team is playing right now, the expectations should be high. If they don't get to the Finals, it will be a disappointment.