While there always seems to be a negative buzz surrounding the Cleveland Cavaliers these days, be it for the media just being itself or for the weird social media decision making by LeBron James, with the help of Kevin Love in the most recent performance, they’re probably going to lock up the number one seed in the Eastern conference pretty soon.
With the loss to the Brooklyn Nets behind them and Kyrie Irving resting (maybe it helped too considering how bad he was in Brooklyn), the Cavaliers jumped early on the New York Knicks and took care of business. James was in an angry mood, finishing with a 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists triple double, that included a thumping dunk over Lou Amundson and Kristaps Porzingis and then getting a technical foul for his reaction afterwards, in another demonstration of the stupidity of the NBA and the officials carrying it out.
Kevin Love finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, hitting four 3-pointers and Cleveland doing quite nicely from beyond the arc, making 14 of those. They led by 17 in the first quarter and allowed just 32 points at halftime. The rest was garbage time, allowing Carmelo Anthony and Porzingis, combining to score 47 points, to pad up their stats. Porzingis is doing nicely after it seemed he hit the rookie wall, but except for Anthony looking good from long range (9-for-24 overall), there wasn’t anything good to write home about for the Knicks.
The win keeps the Cavaliers 2.5 games ahead of the Raptors, having played one game more. Considering the Cavaliers are only six games above .500 when playing on the road and just 19-15 this season against teams with a .500 record or better, home court advantage matters. It seems like teams in the East, unlike the Hawks of last year, are a bit more prepared for the Cavaliers raising their levels. Maybe it’s the same illusion as every year when one team has some sort of advantage against a LeBron James team, but at least based on a hunch, it’s going to be more difficult in the East for Cleveland than a year ago.
It was a rough week for James. The twitter thing. The losses. The comments about him and even the head coach sounding off with criticism. Sometimes it feels like James really wants someone or more than one someone to take over for him, so he can focus on passing and defense instead of scoring. On other games, it looks like he wants to carry the team on his own, without anyone getting in the way. The second version of him might put up big numbers, but the Cavaliers are better with the first one.
The road to the NBA finals and maybe putting up a fight against the Golden State Warriors (or the San Antonio Spurs, who are a bit more comfortable for the Cavs) has more to do with Love and Irvin embracing their roles completely and not messing up, with Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson also falling into that category than James putting up the most impressive numbers in the league. J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, the list is known and long. Role players allow the best players in the NBA to be who they are and get the best out of themselves. The Cavaliers, inferior to the Warriors and probably the Spurs, need it to happen more than the others.