Today is a big day in Cleveland Cavaliers franchise history. They need a win today thanks to a Derrick Rose game winner at the buzzer Friday night. This is a must win game for Cleveland without a doubt not wanting to go down 3-1 to the Bulls. The Cavaliers are banged up right now with Shumpert, Irving and obviously Kevin Love less than 100% or out. But they are not offering any excuses because of injuries which is a good thing. I have not been overly impressed with the Bulls two wins in this series. In game one they shot exceptionally well, while in game three Rose banked in the game winner enough said. Defensively and on the boards the Bulls have turned up the aggression to which Cleveland needs to answer back. Another key is the play of Kyrie Irving who was averaging 25 points per game in the series. Irving only had 11 points on 3/13 shooting on Friday night. I don’t know if it was the injury or the Bulls defense that slowed him down. Whatever the case is Irving needs to drop 20+ points today and be a factor in this game. Lebron James is averaging a near triple double in this series, but he is only shooting 39% from the field. He needs to shoot higher percentage and finish better at the rim. He is also is leading everybody with 15 turnovers in the series of which 7 came in game three. James and Irving are the two best players in this series by far. Today is the day they put their mark on this series and this franchise. It’s not about the other players who still need to contribute. It’s about James and Irving today bringing this back to Cleveland tied up 2-2 period.
Kyrie Irving Grade = A
In his first playoff series Irving played well offensively. No weakness on offense can score off the bounce, mid-range or downtown. Needs to guard better in the 2nd round of playoffs.
J.R. Smith Grade = C
Smith made his first big mistake since joining Cleveland with Jae Crowder incident. Swish has played solid defense better than expected. Smith becomes 3rd option with Love out, but will miss the first two games of the next series.
Timofey Mozgov Grade = B
Mozgov played decent in this series. He was like the fifth option on offense with most of his points coming off pick and rolls. He did protect the rim pretty good.
Kevin Love Grade = B
Before the injury Love looked like was finding his groove. Love had to two good games before going down. We will have to wait until next year if he opts in.
Lebron James Grade = A
King James does what he does being the best at his craft. It’s championship or bust at this point. Lebron is going to do his part it’s other players who need to step to bring the gold to Cleveland.
Iman Shumpert Grade = B
Shumpert played great defense along with some bonus offense. We need more of that as the playoffs continue.
Tristan Thompson Grade = B
Thompson is offensive rebounding machine one of the best in the league. Another player Cleveland will need to get more out of as the playoffs move on.
James Jones Grade = C
The specialist wasn’t hitting the three ball in this series. He has to hit that shot to make up for being a defensive liability.
Matthew Dellavedova Grade = C
Delly will play enough to give Kyrie a breather.
Kendrick Perkins Grade = Inc
Can u say enforcer?
Shawn Marion Grade = Inc
Just a cameo appearance.
Cleveland moves to the second round of the playoffs with a 101-93 victory. In a very physical game Cleveland survived but didn’t go unscathed losing Kevin Love in the first quarter to a shoulder injury. Also J.R. Smith got ejected in the 3rd quarter for backhand slap on Jae Crowder. Cleveland is by far a more talented team than Boston who started playing bully ball in the last two games.Love is probably is going to be down for extended period, while Smith is facing a suspension. Kendrick Perkins might also be getting suspended. That’s enough off court stuff let’s get back to what happened on the court.
Lebron James 46 minutes 27 points 10 rebounds 8 assists 3 steals
King James is difference maker even when he has a poor shooting performance. The best player on the planet has been here before.
Kyrie Irving 43 minutes 24 points 11 rebounds 3 assists
Uncle Drew is just a pure shot maker who is clutch. Irving showed in this series his first playoff experience he can handled it.
Iman Shumpert 37 minutes 15 points 10 rebounds 2 steals
When Smith got ejected Shump stepped in and did well especially on the defensive end stopping little Isaiah Thomas.
Timofey Mozgov 27 minutes 12 points 11 rebounds 3 blocks
They got Mozgov going early in some pick and rolls. He was one of four players to grab 10+ rebounds in the game.
Cleveland has taken step one in the playoffs. They also have a degree of uncertainty with the Love and Smith issues. They will need this rest to reevaluate how they approach the 2nd round of the playoffs.
The Cavaliers will come out of the All-Star break playing 11 of their next 14 games on the road. Included in the stretch is 4 back to back games. Eight of these teams are playoff teams right now. This by far is the most important part of the season for Cleveland.
The Next 14
|Fri Feb 20 2015||8:00p EST||ESPN||@||Washington Wizards|
|Sun Feb 22 2015||1:00p EST||ABC||@||New York Knicks|
|Tue Feb 24 2015||7:30p EST||@||Detroit Pistons|
|Thu Feb 26 2015||8:00p EST||TNT||Golden State Warriors|
|Fri Feb 27 2015||7:00p EST||@||Indiana Pacers|
|Sun Mar 1 2015||7:00p EST||NBATV||@||Houston Rockets|
|Tue Mar 3 2015||7:00p EST||Boston Celtics|
|Wed Mar 4 2015||7:30p EST||@||Toronto Raptors|
|Fri Mar 6 2015||7:30p EST||@||Atlanta Hawks|
|Sat Mar 7 2015||7:30p EST||NBATV||Phoenix Suns|
|Tue Mar 10 2015||8:30p EST||@||Dallas Mavericks|
|Thu Mar 12 2015||8:00p EST||TNT||@||San Antonio Spurs|
|Sun Mar 15 2015||6:00p EST||@||Orlando Magic|
|Mon Mar 16 2015||8:00p EST||ESPN||@||Miami Heat|
“Playing with a sense of urgency and understanding how important each game is,” James said. “They have never been in this situation where every game is meaningful. It is now. It’s going to set them up for the postseason.”
“Everyone is in a great rhythm and everything is starting to click,” Irving said.
“We have to try to stay focused on all the good things we were doing before the break and to be really, really passionate and professional in our approach to the last part of this season, which will come heavy and fast right away,” Blatt said. “The guys are in a good state of mind and we are ready to go.”
“Oh we can win a championship, yeah, with this roster,” James said after Thursday’s practice.
“Obviously, health is a huge thing, clicking at the right time,” James said. “The team that’s clicking at the right time, is healthy at the right time, can make a huge push. I believe we can make a push to win one. Does it guarantee that? Of course not, we still gotta go out and play. But this roster can challenge any team out there.”
Listen the Cavaliers are going to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. Now it’s a matter how they are going to position themselves for the playoffs. This 14 game stretch will tell us if Cleveland are contenders or pretenders. For some of the players on team this is the first time the end of the season means something. At the end of this stretch I will take look at where Cleveland at and how they played. Lebron knows what to expect this time of the year. Let’s see how Kyrie, KLove and the others respond to the pressure.
|1||Lebron James||F||A triple double waiting to happen.|
|2||Kyrie Irving||G||Maybe playing his best overall in career.|
|3||Kevin Love||F||Still trying to find his niche.|
|4||Anderson Varejao||F/C||Keep his minutes down.|
|5||Dion Waiters||G||Too talented not to figure this out.|
|6||Tristan Thompson||F/C||Playing for a contract.|
|7||Shawn Marion||F||Still good on defense but suspect on offense.|
|8||Will Cherry||G||Playing spot minutes.|
|9||Joe Harris||G||Has fell off thus lost playing time.|
|10||Lou Amundson||F||Playing spot minutes in frontcourt.|
|11||Mike Miller||G/F||A lot of DNP|
|12||Brandon Haywood||C||A lot of DNP|
|13||James Jones||G/F||A lot of DNP|
|15||Matthew Delladova||G||Knee injury out|
Last Friday Cleveland went into the nation’s capital an got a beat down by Washington 91-78. Last night the Wizards came to town looking to roll the Cavaliers again. Cleveland wasn’t having it playing perhaps their best all around game of the young season.
Big 3 Report
Lebron James 29 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 dimes in 36 minutes. King James dominated this game from the start and looking like the best player on the planet.
Kevin Love 21 points, and 5 rebounds in 28 minutes. Love got into foul trouble which cut his minutes. Love only attempted 2 treys on the night which I think is good. More pick and roll will benefit Love on the offense.
Kyrie Irving 18 points, 5 dimes, and 3 steals in 32 minutes. Irving started slow on offense but finished strong. I was most impressed by his defense which looks to be improving.
When Cleveland shoots 50+ % from the field they are 4-0.
Cleveland is 5-5 against teams with winning records.
When Cleveland scores 100+ points they are 7-1.
Tristan Thompson had 0 rebounds for the first time in his career.
November 29 Indiana Pacers
December 2 Milwaukee Bucks
|14||New York Knicks||3||8|