When the Cleveland Cavaliers tried to envisions how a team with LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving look like playing together on offense, the 111-108 win over the Milwaukee Bucks and the offensive performance in it was probably quite close to that vision.
The defense didn’t do very well against the young and surprising Bucks, one of the more fun to watch teams in the league, but on every other aspect the Cavaliers looked great. The trio combined to score 81 of 111 points, which isn’t always great for the team but makes for some wonderful headlines and overall, there’s nothing wrong with your stars doing what they’re being paid to do. Kyrie Irving led with 28 points and 6 assists, Kevin Love scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while LeBron James struggled with his shooting and still scored 26 points to go with 5 rebounds and 10 assists.
Struggling might be a bit of a harsh word. James finished with 6-of-15 from the field, nothing to write home about, but he did make quite a lot of trips to the line. He hit 14-of-21, showing once again that among all of his strengths, shooting from the line remains something that’s still a bit of a weakness for him. He can get to the line without any problem when he sets his mind to it, but sometimes there’s a little bit lack of focus when trying to complete the job.
James took a different approach in the closing minutes of the game, with the Bucks constantly behind them by a possession or two. The two teams were tied to start off the fourth quarter. The Bucks had a 3-point lead with five minutes to go but a Love 3-pointer tied the game. Miller got a big block on defense, followed by Irving making a 3-point play to take over the game and not let it go. James stopped trying to shoot on something of an off night shooting wise and started moving the ball around a lot more to unpredictable places.
It resulted with a big 3-pointer from Mike Miller, who had six points and seven rebounds off the bench, and also a massive alley-oop dunk assist to Tristan Thompson, back to the bench after Anderson Varejao came back from his short-term injury. The Cavaliers looked better when Varejao was sitting on the bench and looked extremely good when going all-out offensively, using Mike Miller on the floor as well.
The Bucks and their 10-9 record go home with compliments. After doing a fine tank-job last season, things are moving along a bit more smoothly this year. A young team that’s been together for two seasons, getting rid of all the bad apples and parts while adding Jason Kidd to the sidelines, a young head coach who has no intention of waiting for this team to develop. He’s pushing his players right from the start and so far, it’s going a lot better for him than it did through the first couple of months in Brooklyn, where he eventually worn out his welcome (on purpose).
While everyone was quite happy with how the James-Irving-Love trio performed on offense, Mike Miller getting most of the credit from the head coach and players shows how this team needs the role players and ‘other guys’ to perform well and take over sometimes. This team was built to win a championship with these three stars, but it’s going to take a lot more than them to actually make it happen.
We were in trouble and we had to do something. Mike answered the call. He sort of stabilized us, gave the others confidence and that’s what a veteran should do. I gotta give him a lot of credit. He hasn’t played in the last several games and we threw him into a very tough situation and he answered the call in a big way. I’ve played with him for so long that I know exactly how he can be effective. He’s going to be very important to our team.