For teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers, consecutive losses always mean some sort of crisis atmosphere, at least coming from the media. Their 101-97 win over the Phoenix Suns, a team with very different kinds of problems, helps pull them out of some troubled waters.
We’ve discussed the Suns issues this week already, and with Eric Bledsoe out, it’s not going to be any easier for them. They did make it difficult on the Cavaliers at times, with 23 points coming off of T.J. Warren and Brandon Knight helping with 18, but it always felt like the Cavaliers were a bit out of reach for them, and with a little more confidence and maybe some better lineups, this game could have been put to bed a lot earlier.
The Cavaliers did run into trouble in the end, but Irving hitting a 3-pointer with 21.9 seconds left in the game meant it was over. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Cavs struggle to find some fluidity at the end of games, and now that Irving is on the team and is getting closer to full capacity, we’ll see some, more creativity from them during this minutes. Irving had his best game this season with 22 points, making a lot happen in just 24 minutes of basketball.
J.R. Smith hit five 3-pointers to finish with 17 points, Kevin Love scored 16 points and looked a lot better not having to defend against Draymond Green while LeBron James, moving up to 17th on the all-time scoring list, continues to look sluggish offensively, although this time he was more standoffish than usual and didn’t really try to force too many shots, finishing with 14 points, 7 assists and 2 steals. It’s funny how such an experienced and accomplished player has confidence problems at times, but that seems to be the thing bugging him more than anything right now.
Maybe he was conserving energy for the next game. The Cavaliers complete their road trip and their 2015 part of the schedule in Denver against the Nuggets, with Irving sitting out the back to back, which is all part of the plan in regards to his slow and patient comeback. While the Cavaliers have struggled when you compared them to the San Antonio Spurs and especially the Golden State Warriors, their 20-9 record gives them a little bit of a cushion to allow Irving some more resting opportunities.