The Cleveland Cavaliers have won their fourth straight game against a superteam, as they defeat the New York Knicks 117-88.
The Cavs were off their game early, whether it be rust or just caught up in the moment of the pre-game championship celebration they just couldn’t seem to execute, even with open looks in abundance. They entered the half up 48-45.
Things opened up in the second half, as the team came out looking sharp and executing with precision. Whether it be scoring burst from Kyrie Irving, the inside/outside play of Kevin Love, or the seemingly omnipotent force that is LeBron James on a basketball court the Cavs was simply too much for New York to take.
Thoughts and observations:
- Beyond the rust, the ball movement was great in the first half. Emotions were obviously running high, but the Cavs were making the right pass and getting open shots.
- The Cavs offense resembled that of the Eastern Conference playoffs. Without a center like Mozgov, it allows Kyrie Irving and LeBron James to play with a more mobile squad that can shoot. The movement resembled the three point barrages the team put on the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, the shots just weren’t falling.
- Irving treated us to one of his signature scoring bursts. The layup he had on Porzingis didn’t make sense, you just have to enjoy when he does special things.
- Speaking of special, Kevin Love had a great game. Despite not being immune from the team’s early shooting woes. He is clearly in the best shape of his life and was moving well throughout the game. The Cavs playing with pace and space suits him well, and lineups featuring he and Channing Frye as the bigs allows him to serve as an offensive hub. Find a balance between getting him more involved, while not going away from what has worked in the past will surely be a mission for Tyronn Lue this season. If he plays like this, it won’t be hard to find a best of both world’s situation.
- Richard Jefferson played a fantastic game off of the bench, pouring in 13 points on 5-7 shooting. He and the newly added Mike Dunleavy provided a nice punch off the bench, while Iman Shumpert struggled in his role as backup point guard.
- Shumpert left the game in the third quarter as he was displaying concussion-like symptoms after hitting his head on the hip of Kristaps Porzingis. No further update is available at this time.
- The big three combined for 71 points tonight, which is always a good time.
- Once again speaking of special, LeBron James put up a triple double with 19 points, 11 rebounds, and 14 assists. We have learned to expect greatness from James, but it doesn’t make what he does on a night to night basis any less impressive.
- For the Knicks, the starters didn’t look too bad. Rose was forcing the issue early, but found a groove in the latter part of the first half. The second half didn’t go too well for him, but as a reclamation project the Knicks are expecting uneven play from Rose as he tries to rediscover his MVP form. The bench is largely a tire-fire, with the exception of Justin Holiday and Brandon Jennings.
- Carmelo Anthony is still a hell of a basketball player and if he gets enough help, he just might be able to get this team to overachieve and squeak into the playoffs.