Being the best team in the East doesn’t mean things are easy. The Cleveland Cavaliers needed a game winning shot from LeBron James to beat the Brooklyn Nets in order to avoid what could have been turning into some sort of mini crisis for the team.
With 13 seconds on the clock, James decided to do it on his own, with Joe Johnson guarding him. I don’t think Johnson would have been able to slow down James on his way to the basket, but he could have done a better job than Brook Lopez. Tristan Thompson set the screen which put Lopez on James, making it a lot easier for him to set himself up for a more comfortable shot. He hit a floating hook shot over Lopez, leaving the Nets just one second for a desperation shot that didn’t fall (although it wasn’t far), resulting in a 90-88 win for the Cavaliers.
James scored 26 points and so did Kevin Love, but missing Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert is tough on the Cavaliers, who do have depth, but sometimes look stuck in certain lineups and minutes, something that was part of their growing pains last season. The frustration of another loss that’s about losing focus has faded away after the comeback win against the Charlotte Hornets a day earlier, but the Cavaliers still look reeling from something, and lacking confidence or conviction in their gameplan for too many minutes.
James was obviously happy with the win and getting himself in the spotlight (like he needs any help) with the game winner, but the Cavaliers are still far from being complete, despite looking good on all the metrics, putting them in the top 10 or top 5 defensively and offensively of almost every meaningful category. The Golden State Warriors are constantly the measuring stick for them and for now, it’s impossible to keep up.