The Cleveland Cavaliers brought back their starters in a tuneup for the NBA playoffs, beating the Detroit Pistons 109-97 behind LeBron James picking up a triple double, although it won’t resonate enough with voters to win him the MVP.
It’s hard to say if James actually cares about it that badly. J.R. Smith said after the game that everyone might be mentioning other names, but it’s only James who should win the award. He finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists while Smith led the Cavaliers with 28 points on 10-of-15 from the field. A lot of interesting things have developed and changed with the Cavaliers throughout this season, but Smith turning into Mr. Reliable might be the most impressive.
A 36-14 first quarter was enough to send this game into very early garbage time mode. Kyrie Irving played just 17 minutes and for him, as well as for other starters, it might be the final regular season game. Timofey Mozgov finished with a double double of 16 points and 13 rebounds, the only player of the starters who got to play in the huge loss to the Boston Celtics a day before. Kevin Love scored 7 points on 3-of-9 from the field.
The Pistons are another one of those teams that right now without anything to play for. The most interesting thing about their performances is players looking to improve their odds of getting a big deal in free agency. Greg Monroe is one of them, scoring 11 points in 26 minutes. Reggie Jackson, who has been putting up some nice numbers since traded from the Thunder, finished with 18 points and 8 assists. Andre Drummond led them with 20 points, but he’s not going anywhere next year.
The Cavaliers ended up quite pleased about the game. LeBron James was happy about the rhythm on offense and intensity early on. Kyrie Irving’s injury is something to be cautious about, but the Cavaliers wouldn’t have been playing if his hip issue was too serious.
It’s something we need to be cautious about and therein the reason he didn’t play yesterday. We’re trying to make sure everyone is healthy. He should be OK. He has less than a week to get to feeling as close to 100 percent as possible. We all have nagging injuries but you want to feel as good as you can going into the postseason. That’s the only thing that matters.