The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t been a consistent team this season, but they are the Central division champions for the third consecutive season. With a Pacers loss to the Denver Nuggets, and the Cavs victory in Charlotte over the Hornets, it’s official. Division titles don’t quite mean what they used to, and the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards still have a shot at the East’s top seed, but this is a nice feather in the cap of a team that remains very good, regular season defensive struggles or not.
Tonight was the story, as it is so many times, of LeBron James. On Wednesday night against the Nuggets he deferred offensively and exerted himself defensively late in the game. In Charlotte, though, James attacked the basket relentlessly and attempted 16 free throws as a result. He made 14 of them, and ended up with 32 points on 14 shots. He took some serious blows, but kept getting back up. He was an offensive maestro, handing out 11 assists to just four turnovers, and was just a rebound away from another triple-double.
Your Cleveland Cavaliers, 112. The Charlotte Hornets, 105.
Charlotte put in a ton of work on the offensive glass, and got a great game from Kemba Walker. Walker was a +12 in a game his team lost by seven, a testament to LeBron James’ dominance leading the Cavs’ second unit. Kemba started by making four of his first five three pointers, before ultimately making just one of his final five attempts from there. Still, 5/10 ain’t bad.
The Hornets couldn’t quite make up for their bench, though. Briante Weber was a -19 in just nine minutes, and it didn’t feel like a fluke with the way he was playing. Deron Williams and LeBron James seem to be developing real chemistry, and could be a recipe for success moving forward.
The Cavs also got decent efforts from Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. They weren’t perfect, but seemed to put in a bit more work defensively. Irving had a big first half before being bothered by what seemed like an inconsistent whistle. He also displayed some offensive tunnel vision. Love handed out four assists and didn’t turn the ball over while chipping in 15 points and 12 rebounds. It doesn’t scream at you, but it’s not bad.
We’ll see you tomorrow night when the Wizards come back to town.