The return of LeBron James from injury seems to have completely retconned the season for the Cleveland Cavaliers, beating the Utah Jazz 106-92 to pick up their fourth consecutive win, looking like a completely different team compared to the one from earlier this season.
The ball is moving. Kevin Love is happy to make his outlet passes, and both he and Kyrie Irving seem a lot more confident and comfortable in their rolls, while James has been the best player in the NBA over the last five games. He led the team with 26 point, 7 rebounds, 9 assists and 7 turnovers. Over the last five he’s averaging 30.6 points per game while shooting 51.9% from the field, improving in almost every aspect of his game from prior to the injury.
So was this all it was? James not feeling healthy and confident which led to the bad start? There’s probably more. Behind the scenes, some are suggesting that only when James understood the Cavs’ front office isn’t planning on removing David Blatt in the middle of the season did he start supporting the head coach on the floor and in the dressing room. He had a similar situation with Erik Spoelstra in 2010-2011, and things turned out great there too.
Kevin Love scored 19 points to go with 13 rebounds and two assists, one of them his best quarterback pass of the season. Timofey Mozgov is looking better and better with his new team, also finishing with a double double, 16 points with 11 rebounds. Kyrie Irving had 18 points with five steals, while J.R. Smith completed the scoring in double figures, although was shooting awfully (5-of-16) to make it happen, which isn’t something very surprising.
The Cavs shot 64.9% on two-point field goal attempts, the team’s highest since March 2010. Their 3-point shooting (only 5-of-24) and accuracy from the line (68%) meant that the Jazz weren’t losing by a whole lot more, although in any case, the fourth quarter was 12 minutes of garbage time in terms of the effort we saw from Cavaliers players. When things are going so well all of a sudden, it’s affordable to not take things too seriously all the time.