The Cleveland Cavaliers keep marching the undefeated path in the 2016 NBA Playoffs, and LeBron James, without having to do too much, looks fresh and happy with everything that’s happening around him.
James finished with a triple double as the Cavaliers broke away in the second half to beat the Toronto Raptors 108-89 and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, before the series heads to Toronto, where we’ll learn if there’s any hope for the Raptors. The Cavs are now 10-0 in this postseason, winning seven of those games by double digits, never scoring less than 100 points and giving up more than 100 just once.
Once again, it was Kyrie Irving who led the scoring, finishing with 26 points. He doesn’t have to think about facilitating and sharing the ball with others. LeBron James is on the floor to do all of that. Irving is an immensely talented offensive player, but when he tries to spread his responsibilities around too much, it falls apart. While James is happy playing the guy who sets him up (not that he has a problem taking shots), it really looks good.
James had 23 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. Once again, the Raptors didn’t know what to do with him. He didn’t make any three pointers, but he’s getting to the rim without anyone getting in the way, also going to the line 17 times in this game, making just nine of his shots. He’s shooting better from the field than he is from the line in this series. It was his first triple double of this postseason. He had three in last year’s playoffs (two in the Finals), and now has 15 overall in his postseason career. When he talks about their recent form, he’s trying not to make it sound like the Cavs are too happy with what’s going on.
I don’t think it feels like a streak. It feels like we won one game, we won the next game. We’ve taken one step at a time. We’ve tried to take care of business. We play offense, we play defense and we’re great at special teams as well.
One of the interesting players to look at in these playoffs is Kevin Love. Why? Because of where he is now. He complained in the past about being the only player on Team USA without playoff experience. Now he’s in Cleveland, getting max money but playing something of a role player type (19 points isn’t too bad) unless the Cavs need more from him. He missed most of last season’s playoff run due to a shoulder injury. He’s also never lost a playoff game.
You can say the same about Tyronn Lue. Whatever you think of the personality of those involved in pushing David Blatt out of the way as he now tries to find himself a job with the remaining available ones, or take an assistant role (Warriors?), in the playoffs it doesn’t look like the Cavaliers have become worse for it. The NBA isn’t always a very nice business to be a part of. Dirty tricks and politics, like in every work environment, play a part in decisions. It might not have been a popular one with NBA fans, but it might have been the right one.