Here is a new series of articles that will analyze important games across the association.
- Since the return of Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, tonight’s game was far and away the Cavs best performance.
- Nonetheless, the first half was filled with poor defense. The Cavs use a strategy where they give their opponent room on the perimeter, thus, Cleveland rarely gets beat on screens. The dilemma is that it opens the court up for dribble penetration. Last postseason, Mozgov’s interior defense made nullified this weakness. This season, though, it has bitten the Cavs a few times.
- This was the case the entire first half where Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan were slashing the Cavs defense to death.
- The Lowry/DeRozan backcourt is one of the best in basketball. It is not talked about nearly as much as Golden State’s, Portland’s, or Washington’s; but, that is unfortunate, because Toronto’s combination works wonders. They are the third highest scoring backcourt in the NBA.
- Nonetheless, their Net Rating together is only +3.7. This is a result of their play styles being less effective with the rest of their team. Ultimately, Toronto lacks an elite three-and-D player. Moreover, Lowry’s and DeRozan’s abilities to slash do not help Jonas Valanciunas be effective, and he is one of their best players.
- All of this contributes to a significantly inconsistent offense. This could be seen tonight at the start of the first quarter, second half of the third quarter, and all of the fourth quarter.
- All in all, the best part of this game was Lebron being able to rest the entire fourth quarter. Blatt came into this game with a strategy. Knowing that Toronto was coming off a close back-to-back, he played the starters a lot of minutes early, and this allowed Cleveland to kill Toronto by the end of the third.
- The second best part of this game was the re-emergence of Kyrie Irving. During the game against Phoenix Kyrie hit a game winner and had a great fourth quarter, against Orlando he made a few serious hustle plays, but tonight was his best complete game.
- Kyrie Irving very well has the talent to surpass Steph Curry over the next few years. Sooner than latter he will become the Cavs number one scoring option. On top of that, since the second half of last season, Kyrie’s defense has been beyond solid. He stays with his opponent and does not get lost on screens.
- Finally, Kevin Love played a great game, especially on the defensive end. Nonetheless, I would like to see him significantly more involved in the Cavs offense going forward. I detail my reasoning here in an article for our friends at RCF Sports.
Any other input? Let us know what you think in the comments section!