The Cleveland Cavaliers keep winning as Kyrie Irving continues to put up impressive scoring numbers and LeBron James isn’t getting in the way.
The Cavs comfortably handled the Orlando Magic in a 123-108 win, led by Irving with 33 points which gives him 90 over the last two games. Irving shot an incredible 12-of-15 from the field and 5-of-6 from beyond the arc, this time having a lot more easier shots that went in compared to the very difficult ones he was able to make against the Spurs. LeBron James has no problem playing a second fiddle in terms of scoring, finishing with 21 points, 8 rebounds and 13 assists.
As the third angle in this triangle, it was J.R. Smith’s job to make open shots from the outside. Smith has been surprisingly efficient and disciplined with the Cavaliers, scoring 25 points on 6-of-11 from beyond the arc. As a team Cleveland shot 51.4% from three on 35 attempts, also getting 12 points from James Jones, all of his field comes beyond three pointers.
Sure, some of Irving’s points over the last two games have come from James, who has been averaging 9.7 assists per game over the last six outings, but most seem to be Irving simply relying on his hot hand. In the win over the Magic we saw less trickery and “impossible” shots going in; the Magic don’t pose that much of a problem defensively. But this is still the case of a player on a tear and less about a team playing perfect team basketball to make him look great.
Kevin Love didn’t play and the Cavaliers didn’t look bothered by it. David Blatt has often benched him in key moments late in games. Love has been restricted and regulated to a very specific role and shooting isn’t such a huge problem for the Cavaliers: James Jones (4-of-8 against the Magic from beyond the arc), J.R. Smith and others have the ability to stretch the floor anyway. Love is an excellent rebounder and can do a lot more than just shoot, but the Cavaliers aren’t trying to do a whole of a lot with him.
Love wasn’t injured; the Cavaliers gave him a day off. But he has been experiencing back problems for quite some time now, which might explain why it’s so rare to see him go off on an impressive scoring performance compared with his two All-Star teammates and from what we’ve seen him do for the Timberwolves in the past.
Any new conclusions to take as we head closer and closer towards the playoffs? Not really. The Cavaliers offense is right now the most efficient in the NBA and it seems that they’re closer than ever to clinch the number two spot in the East. LeBron James is taking a step backwards and allowing Kyrie Irving to feature in the spotlight. It just might the best thing for the Cavaliers, considering the offensive tendencies of their two stars.