Cleveland Cavaliers – Demonstration of Championship Credentials

LeBron James

In their best performance of the season the Cleveland Cavaliers destroyed the Memphis Grizzlies 111-89 on the road, led by excellent, unselfish basketball from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and even Kevin Love for once.

Timofey Mozgov manhandled Marc Gasol on both ends of the floor, the Cavaliers didn’t stop moving the ball and getting men open in what perfect basketball looked like. While we’ve gotten used to seeing James and Irving interchange in the passer-scorer role, it was great to see Kevin Love do more than just stand around waiting for a shot in the corner.

Love scored 22 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and added four assists, most of them taking the Grizzlies’ defense completely unawares just before he was supposedly pulling up for shots. He did turn the ball over five times but a lot of that came from fooling around. He shot 10-of-13 from the field, taking good shots and making excellent decisions on when to move the ball onward.

James scored 20 points that went with 8 rebounds and 5 assists. He had himself the dunk of the night as he is expected to have while the leading scorer for the team was Irving with 24 points. The entire starting lineup finished in double figures. J.R. Smith scored 13 points and Timofey Mozgov scored 14, with 9 rebounds and four assists in just 26 minutes.

This was the biggest home loss for the Grizzlies this season, who haven’t lost by this much since December 2013 (26 points to the Warriors). It was the most points they’ve allowed in a home game in over two months, holding teams to under 100 points in 13 consecutive home games, the longest such streak in this NBA season. The Grizzlies are now 27-8 at home.

This was the perfect opportunity to show just how good the Cavaliers can be when their three stars are firing on all cylinders. It didn’t take an explosive night from one of them to carry the team. It felt a lot more natural and symbiotic to see each of them taking the right kind of shots and making the correct play almost every time, making one of the best defensive teams in the NBA pretty much give up.

The Cavaliers are 7-1 this season when their Big Three all score 20 points or more. It’s less about the points and more about the idea and concept. The Cavaliers don’t blow assignments on defense as much as they used to, and even if they do, Timofey Mozgov makes it a lot more difficult to score on them. If the ball movement doesn’t fall asleep, it’s very hard to stop them.

Regular season games are often very different from what we see in the playoffs, but sometimes there are games that mean more. This was the last time the Cavaliers will face a Western conference team until (and if) they make the NBA finals. For all the talk about Western dominance, the Cavaliers have proven in 2015 that they’re up for it against any team in the league.

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