Last night the Cleveland Cavalierss took care of business against the Minnesota Timberwolves 101-88. It wasn’t much of a fight after half time as the Cavs outscored the T-Wolves 25-13 in the third quarter. LeBron James had 31 points, 12 assists, and 6 steals after coming back from a game off against the Boston Celtics due to general fatigue and soreness.
But the result of the game wasn’t really the story. There were subtle details to this one which seem far more important.
First of all, Kevin Garnett had 22 points on 7-13 shooting in 39 minutes in the loss. The key stat here: Garnett only took 13 shots. The Cavs made a concerted effort to force every other member of the team to beat them, and they used double teams to force Garnett to pass the ball. It is almost as if the Cavs are learning to play the kind of defense that every other team tries to play against LeBron night in and night out. The Cavs actively poached the passing lanes. Garnett has only taken 13 or fewer shots in a game seven times this entire season, meaning that the Cavs did as impressive a job keeping the ball out of his hands as anyone else this season and this is the kind of defense which will maximize the chances of winning in the playoffs.
Next, despite his poor shooting performance (3-10 from the field,) Larry Hughes accounted for 10 assists. Before Larry Hughes became the point guard, all that anyone would have remembered is his poor shooting performance at the two. Larry Hughes doesn’t have to be a one-dimensional slashing type of player, and his stint at the point is doing wonders for his career as well as the Cavs team. Ten assists is no small total for a game, and that is the kind of production that the Cavs will be able to use on a regular basis going forward.
Last but not least, the win puts the Cavs one game ahead of the Bulls for second place in the Central Division. And the news just gets better from there for the Cavs, because the Bulls and Pistons will be playing on ESPN tonight. If the Bulls lose, that gives the Cavs a bit more distance so that they can retain the number two seed in the East. If the Pistons lose, it brings the number one seed closer to the Cavs, who have a head-to-head opportunity against the Pistons on Sunday. At this point, it seems ever unlikely that the Cavs can catch Detroit for the number one seed, but if we have learned anything about LeBron James since he has become a Cleveland Cavalier, I think he would look forward to the opportunity to catch them.
If I had to guess, I would think he would secretly root for the Bulls tonight.Powered by Sidelines