There may be new faces on the Cleveland Cavaliers this season, but their ability to play down to their competition has remained the same. The Cavs put in the minimum-required effort against the Chicago Bulls and came away with a 119-112 win.
The Bulls came out of the gate with considerably more effort than the Cavs and punished the poor defense with fantastic ball movement. While the hole to start the game wasn’t as big as the one the Cavs dug for themselves against the Orlando Magic, they still made things far too difficult for themselves against one of the league’s bottom-feeders.
Lauri Markkanen, Justin Holiday and Kay Felder were standout performers for the Bulls. As Markkanen showed off his athleticism and quick release by routinely finding his way to the gaps within the Cavs defense. While Holiday finished with a team-high 25 points on 8-17 shooting.
LeBron James, Jeff Green, Kyle Korver, and Dwyane Wade.
LeBron was fantastic operating as the Cavs point guard after a sloppy start to the game. While play-making isn’t exactly a huge deviation from what James is usually asked to do, it was impressive to see him operate as the team’s lone distributor for most of the evening. He finished with an eye-popping 34 points, 13 assists and three steals. Most impressively, after two turnovers in the opening minutes James did not record another turnover for the rest of the evening.
In his first game off the bench, Wade also looked considerably more comfortable. He had a season-high 11 points on 5-7 shooting and looked composed running the second unit.
Jeff Green also had his best game as a Cavalier, playing within himself and contributing 16 points on 4-6 from the field and 7-8 from the free throw line. When Love struggled, Green stepped in and helped the Cavs build up a lead for the first time in the game. Love finished strong, but it was Green’s strong play that helped turn the tide.
Better luck next time:
Kevin Love, J.R. Smith.
The return to their normal roles wasn’t a smooth one for Love and Smith. Both struggled getting their shots to fall early and were generally out of rhythm. Smith finished the night with 3 points on 1-8 shooting, including 1-7 from three. He was questionable coming into the game with back issues, which likely had a fair amount to do with his poor performance.
Love bounced back with a strong second half, but his defense on Lauri Markkanen was particularly bad. This was his best statistical game of the season, however it felt as though he had more impact in previous games. Love is a very good player who has the bar set much higher than most of his teammates.
More basketball back to back as the Cavaliers travel to Brooklyn to help out either lotto odds against the Nets.