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Find out the scoop on the CAVS from award-winning sports writer Bob Finnan.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Game 60: Cavs at Pacers

Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. The NBA's hottest team got derailed by the Pacers on Friday. The Cavaliers put up a fight, but when one takes All-Stars LeBron James and Kyrie Irving out of the lineup, it's almost too much to overcome.  Combined, they account for more than 47 points per game.

2. Irving's absence was almost expected after last night. He strained his left shoulder in the Golden State game. His status will be updated before the Houston game Sunday. It doesn't appear to be long term - a matter of days instead of weeks.

3. James took a hard fall on his back in the Warriors game. After the game, Cavs coach David Blatt was asked if he'd rest James against Indiana. "It's a little early for that," Blatt said. "I didn’t see anything wrong with his back. He expended a lot of energy. He was in attack mode from minute one. If he plays like that with a sore back, wow." James scored a season-high 42 points against the Warriors. So, what happens? Blatt decides to rest him against the Pacers. On the box score, he was listed as "Did Not Dress, Coach's Decision." 

4. The Cavs have still won 18 of their last 21 games. If everyone plays on Sunday, they might be able to defeat Houston. The Rockets are that good. With the loss, the Cavs dropped back to the No. 4 seed. No. 2 Toronto, No. 3 Chicago and the Cavs all have 37 wins. The Raptors have 21 losses, followed by the Bulls' 22 and Cleveland 23.

5. Matthew Dellavedova will be in the starting lineup until Irving returns. He had 14 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and four turnovers in 38 minutes against the Pacers. However, he took entirely too many shots, as he was 5 of 18 from the field. 

6. He's a completely different player from Irving. They both defend, but do it in a different manner. Delly tries to bully the opposition with his aggressive, hands-on play. Irving has the quickness to stay in front of his man. Offensively, Irving can do so much more with the ball. His ball handling is next to none. He's also a deadly shooter from the perimeter and can get to the basket on almost anyone.

7. This is one position the Cavs don't have adequate depth. Iman Shumpert will likely be the backup point guard, even though he's more of a "2." 

8. Bankers Life Fieldhouse has been a House of Horrors for the Cavs. They've lost 10 consecutive games in Indy, dating back to Jan. 29, 2010. That includes their previous visit when the Cavs coughed up a 13-point lead on Feb. 6 in a 103-99 setback.

9. Veteran forward James Jones started at small forward last night. He just can't play 30 minutes against starters and expect him to produce. Blatt started Shumpert in the second half at the "3" spot. Jones was drafted by Indiana in 2003. He spent two seasons with the Pacers.

10. The Cavs shot just 35.9 percent from the field against the Pacers. Tristan Thompson was the only Cavs player to make at least half of his shots. He was 3 of 4 from the field.

UP NEXT: at Houston, Toyota Center, 3:30 p.m. Sunday

SF James Jones (6-8, 215) vs. Solomon Hill (6-7, 225)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. David West (6-9, 250)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Roy Hibbert (7-2, 275)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. C.J. Miles (6-6, 225)
PG Matthew Dellavedova (6-4, 200) vs. George Hill (6-3, 192)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, F Shawn Marion
Pacers - G/F Paul George, F/C Shayne Whittington
Zach Zarba, Curtis Blair, Mark Lindsay

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Game 59: Warriors at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: TNT, Fox Sports Ohio

1. There was major concern about Kyrie Irving after the game. He didn't travel with the Cavaliers and will have an MRI on his shoulder on Friday. The Cavaliers are praying it's nothing serious. He'll be listed as doubtful for the Pacers game. He's missed just three games this season. Players are dropping all over the league. This would be a devastating blow to the Cavaliers' hopes. Irving had 24 points in Thursday's nationally televised game. 

2. The Cavs are now the favorite in the Eastern Conference after Bulls point guard Derrick Rose tore the meniscus in his knee. All that would change drastically if Irving suffered a major injury. It would be a terrible shame, too, as the Cavaliers have won 18 of their last 20 games and are the league's hottest team.

3. One reason for the concern is there's not much behind Irving on the depth chart. Matthew Dellavedova has some major holes in his game. He plays hard, hustles and defends, but he's not in the same class as Irving offensively.

4. Irving must be commended for his defensive effort against Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, one of the top guards in the game. Curry had 18 points and six assists, but shot 5 of 17 from the field. Iman Shumpert also spent time defending him, while teammate J.R. Smith was all over Klay Thompson. "The New York boys did their job tonight," Cavs forward LeBron James said.

5. Speaking of that James guy, he was fabulous. He made big shot after big shot in the game. He made 15 of 25 from the field, 4 of 9 from behind the arc and 8 of 11 from the foul line. His 42 points were a season high for James. I know Curry is among the top three MVP candidates, but everyone saw tonight who the MVP should be. 

6The Cavaliers have figured things out at The Q. They've won 11 games in a row at home. They haven't lost at The Q since Jan. 7 vs. Houston.

7. By the way, James has 15 turnovers in his last two games. He has to find a way to cut down on his miscues. He's turning the ball over a career-high 4.3 times a game.

8. The Warriors had won their last four meetings with the Cavs at The Q before tonight. In addition, they had won seven of the last eight outings vs. the Cavs. 

9. Warriors coach Steve Kerr played three-plus seasons with the Cavs from 1989-92. When he left, he was the franchise leader in 3-point percentage at 47.2. Also, one of Kerr's assistants, Luke Walton, played the last 1 1/2 seasons of his career in Cleveland in 2012 and 2013.

10. The Warriors are in the midst of playing 10 of 11 games on the road. They are 1-2 on their current trip. Of course, they are a league-best 20-9 away from home this season. They are now 17-4 vs. the Eastern Conference.

UP NEXT: at Indiana, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 7 p.m. Friday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Harrison Barnes (6-8, 225)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Draymond Green (6-7, 230)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Andrew Bogut (7-0, 260)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Klay Thompson (6-7, 215)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Stephen Curry (6-3, 190)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, F Shawn Marion
Warriors - C Ognjen Kuzmic, F James Michael McAdoo
Bennett Salvatore, Pat Fraher, John Goble

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Game 58: Cavs at Pistons

The Palace of Auburn Hills
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. The Cavaliers trailed by 14 points, 67-53, with 10:44 left in the third quarter. All that did was fuel some of the best defense you'll see in the NBA this season. They were exploited for 35 points in the second quarter by the Pistons. Yet, in the second half, those Pistons managed just 31 points. They were outscored in the second half, 49-31. They shot just 30.8 percent from the field in the second half, 40.2 percent in the game. It was a swarming defensive effort. It was impressive.

2. The Cavs now face the league's best team - the Golden State Warriors - at home on Thursday. I think they'll win that game. They've now won 17 of their last 19. It will be 18 out of 20 after Thursday.

3.  The Cavs are now 2-1 vs. Detroit this season. Both of their wins in the series have come at The Palace. Explain that one. The Cavs are now 15-13 on the road this season. They finished their post-All-Star Game road trip with a 3-0 mark.

4. This game had a playoff feel to it. It was so important for both teams. The Pistons are 2-1 since their two trade deadline deals of acquiring guard Reggie Jackson (from Oklahoma City) and forward Tayshaun Prince (from Boston). They are 1 1/2 games behind No. 8 Brooklyn in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Cavs are a half-game back of No. 3 Chicago.

5. The Cavs will be playing without forward Shawn Marion (strained hip), who could miss at least two weeks. He had fallen out of Coach David Blatt's rotation. Now, we know why. It's going to be hard to find minutes for Marion after the addition of Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith, but the former might be able to help out in the playoffs. With Marion sidelined, James Jones has been getting some playing time. Jones has played well.

6. In three games following the All-Star break, the Cavs have won by an average of 22 points.

7. Operating against the Pistons' massive frontcourt of Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe, Cavs center Timofey Mozgov was dominant tonight. He finished with 14 points, six rebounds and four blocks. He is really making a huge impression on this team.

8. Newly signed center Kendrick Perkins made his Cavs' debut in the second quarter. He had two points and two fouls in two minutes. He was signed earlier in the day for the rest of the season. He took his physical on Monday. He is one tough hombre, not a guy you want to mess with.

9. Cavs power forward Kevin Love was coming off a 16-point, 16-rebound outing vs. New York. He was equally as impressive on Tuesday with a game-high 24 points and nine rebounds. He was 8 of 14 from beyond the arc. The eight 3s tied his career high. Detroit's bigs just didn't want to venture out to the 3-point line to defend him. He's playing extremely well. Since entering the league in 2008-09, only Houston's Dwight Howard (6,220) has more rebounds than Love (5,023).

10. The Cavs have a point differential of +12.3 in their last 19 games, first in the NBA. They are also first in field-goal accuracy (47.9 percent) and 3-pointers made (201) during that span. They are third in points per game (108.,6) and fifth in 3-point accuracy (37.2 percent). Now, one can see why they are zooming up the East standings.

11. They are 29-4 on the season when they score 100 or more points. They've also won their last 15 games when topping the 100-point plateau.

12. They have scored 30 or more first-quarter points in 10 of their last 12 games. On their three-game road trip, they are outscoring the teams in the first quarter, 33.7-23.3. On the season, they are averaging 27.7 points in the first quarter, second only to Golden State's 28.6.

13. Since waiving forward Josh Smith on Dec. 22, it's turned the Pistons' season around. They are 18-11 since the controversial move by Coach/President of Basketball Operations Stan Van Gundy.

UP NEXT: vs. Golden State, Quicken Loans Arena, 8 p.m. Thursday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Tashaun Prince (6-9, 215)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Greg Monroe (6-11, 250)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Andre Drummond (6-11, 279)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (6-5, 205)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Reggie Jackson (6-3, 208)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, F Shawn Marion
Pistons - G Brandon Jennings
David Jones, Bennie Adams, Scott Twardoski

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Game 57: Cavs at Knicks

Madison Square Garden
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. This proved to be the Cavs' 16th win in their last 18 games. They travel to Detroit to face the Pistons on Tuesday at The Palace of Auburn Hills. This won't be a pushover. The Pistons recently beat the Bulls and have made some recent acquisitions in Reggie Jackson and Tayshaun Prince.

2. Sunday's game was never in doubt. The Knicks are awful. They dropped to 10-45 on the season, worst in the NBA. They've lost seven in a row. The Cavs might not lose seven in the second half of the season. The Knicks, as they are presently constituted, might not win the D-League title. They recently shut down forward Carmelo Anthony (left knee surgery) for the rest of the season. The Knicks never led in the game. The Cavs led by 30 points at one juncture before Coach David Blatt emptied the bench.

3. The Cavs are absolutely purring on offense and defense. They are playing with extreme confidence. It's going to be hard to beat this team right now. 

4. Cavs forward Shawn Marion (left hip pain) was sent back to Cleveland after the game to get an MRI. He could miss some time. Many have wondered why he was dropped from Blatt's rotation. Now we know why. 

5. Guard J.R. Smith was very good on Sunday against his former team. He had 17 points, including a wicked reverse dunk. He's such a likable guy with his colorful quotes. The media in New York is going to have a field day with him after the game.

6. The Cavs players, staff and front office is pretty excited about the pending signing of center Kendrick Perkins. He's scheduled to take his physical on Monday and sign his contract. The soonest he could play is Tuesday in Detroit. He is such a tough guy.

7. The Cavs have won their last 14 games when they reach the 100-point barrier. They are 28-4 when they score 100 or more points this season. 

8. They have now made 10 or more 3-pointers in 11 of their last 14 games. They have turned into a 3-point shooting team. They are averaging 9.2 3-pointers made per game. If they keep up this pace, they'll shatter the team record.

9. During their 16-2 stretch, they are outscoring teams by 12.3 points per game. They are holding teams to 42 percent shooting. 

10. Knicks forward Lou Amundson played 12 games for the Cavs this season before being waived. New York has so many injuries, he's moved into the starting lineup.

11. Blatt and Knicks GM Steve Mills were teammates at Princeton for four seasons. They helped the Tigers to two Ivy League titles and an NCAA berth in 1981.

UP NEXT: at Detroit, The Palace of Auburn Hills, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Lance Thomas (6-8, 225)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Lou Amundson (6-9, 225)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Jason Smith (7-0, 245)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Langston Galloway (6-2, 200)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Jose Calderon (6-3, 200)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao
Knicks - F Carmelo Anthony
Dan Crawford, Eli Roe, Bill Kennedy

Friday, February 20, 2015

Game 56: Cavs at Wizards

Verizon Center
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: ESPN, Fox Sports Ohio

1. ESPN viewers from around the country - and those watching locally on Fox Sports Ohio - saw what championship-caliber teams look like. They watched the Cavaliers at their very best. Some wondered if the Cavs could rekindle their magic from before the All-Star break. Now we know. They've now won 15 of their last 17 games. They totally dismantled the Wizards right from the start. The Cavs have won seven of their last 10 meetings against Washington, including five of their last six at the Verizon Center.

2. The Wizards played without shooting guard Bradley Beal, who has a mild stress reaction to the lower right fibula. Beal, second on the team in scoring with 15 points per game, is needed on this team because of his perimeter shooting. Washington was pathetic from the 3-point line - 1 of 15. Beal's replacement, Otto Porter, made the Wizards' only 3-point goal late in the fourth quarter. In the game, the Cavs outscored Washington from beyond the arc, 42-3.

3. The key to the game was holding Wizards point guard John Wall in check. In fact, he was outscored by fellow All-Star Kyrie Irving, 25-18. In pregame hype, the point guard matchup appeared very compelling. This should have been the starting backcourt in the All-Star Game. They are the two best guards in the Eastern Conference. That statement is not meant to take anything away from Toronto's Kyle Lowry, who started with Wall in the East. But Irving should have started with Wall.

4. Wall is an absolute blur on the court. He gets to the basket at will on most teams. Irving is a far better perimeter shooter. If Wall shot like Irving, he'd be the league's MVP. But the fact is he doesn't. They were both No. 1 overall picks: Irving in 2011 and Wall in 2010.

5. Starting with the Wizards game, the Cavs start the second half on a three-game road trip. They are now 13-13 on the road this season. They are also 2-1 vs. Washington, which might come in handy later when tie-breakers become relevant. In their last two games against the Wizards, the Cavs have shot 51.4 and 51.1 percent from the field. They were very efficient tonight with 28 assists. They outscored the Wizards in fastbreak points, 18-14. The Cavs had just 10 turnovers.

6. Cavs forward LeBron James was just dominant vs. Washington. His plus-minus number was +30. He just took it right at the Wizards and never let up. When he's playing like that, the Cavs can beat anyone. He had a game-high 28 points. The Wizards tried to have 37-year-old Paul Pierce guard him. It wasn't happening on this night. 

7. James (24,365) is four points shy of surpassing No. 22 Allen Iverson (24,368) on the all-time scoring list. It'll likely happen on Sunday in New York.

8. The key to the Cavs' 15-2 streak is their defense. They are holding teams to 42 percent shooting from the field during this stretch. They also have outscored teams by an average of 12.1 points, 109-96.9. Since Jan. 19, they are holding the opposition to 95 points. The Wizards are one of the best-shooting teams in the league. They are ranked fourth in field-goal percentage (47.1) and 3-point percentage (37.4). Tonight, they shot 44.2 percent from the field and 6.3 percent from behind the arc.

9. Cavs power forward Kevin Love didn't shoot the ball extremely well (3 of 8 from the field, 0 of 3 from the 3-point line). But overall, he finished with eight points and six rebounds in 30 minutes in his first game since he suffered the corneal abrasion vs. Miami on Feb. 11. He missed the Chicago game on Feb. 12. It showed just how important Love is to the Cavs' arsenal when he was not in the lineup. He helps so much to space the floor and to keep the defense honest with his 3-point shooting.

10. The Cavs moved to the No. 4 seed in the East playoff race, one-half game ahead of No. 5 Washington. They are just one-half game behind No. 3 Chicago (34-21). I think they'll move up to the second seed in the East when it's all said and done.

UP NEXT: at New York, Madison Square Garden, 1 p.m. Feb. 22

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Paul Pierce (6-8, 220)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Nene (6-11, 250)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Marcin Gortat (6-11, 240)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Otto Porter (6-8, 198)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. John Wall (6-4, 207)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao
Wizards - G Bradley Beal
Monty McCutchen, Lauren Holtkamp, Michael Smith

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Game 55: Cavs at Bulls

United Center
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7

1. The Cavaliers have won their first two games against the Bulls this season. One would have never known it on Thursday. They were pounded by Chicago, which has now won four games in a row.

2. Both teams were missing key starters. The Cavs played without power forward Kevin Love, who has a right corneal abrasion. The way he spreads the floor was needed against the Bulls. They like to pack the paint with their two bigs - 7-0 Pau Gasol and 6-11 Joakim Noah. Neither of those players like venturing out to the 3-point line to guard Love. They didn't have to on Thursday, of course. Chicago played without All-Star guard Jimmy Butler, who has a strained right shoulder.

3. The loss of Love severely crippled the Cavs' big-man rotation. Tristan Thompson moved into the starting lineup in Love's place. However, that left no legitimate bigs on the bench, especially since Coach David Blatt won't play Brendan Haywood. Further compounding matters, center Timofey Mozgov got in immediate foul trouble. At one point, Blatt brought James Jones in to play power forward. That's not going to work.

4. The Cavs had won 14 of their previous 15 games. They were never really in the game. They reduced their deficit to seven points late in the game, but could never get over the hump. They dropped to fifth in the Eastern Conference race with a 33-22 record. Chicago now has a one-game lead on the Cavs in the Central Division. The Cavs' 33 wins match their season total from last season. 

5. Bulls point guard Derrick Rose was fantastic on Thursday. He finished with 30 points, four rebounds and seven assists. He was 12 of 24 from the field. He torched Cavs All-Star Kyrie Irving, who could not even slow him down. Rose got to the basket, hit jumpers and was the best player on the court. He was in 2011 MVP form.

6. That couldn't be said about Cavs forward LeBron James. He had perhaps the worst 31-point game ever. He turned the ball over eight times, which matched Chicago's total as a team. His plus-minus number was -27. He was 12 of 26 from the field and 2 of 9 from behind the arc.

7. Bulls guard Tony Snell, who replaced the injured Butler, was outstanding. He made 9 of 11 shots for 22 points. 

8. Those who have watched the Bulls this season say they haven't been defending like they have in the past. That's Coach Tom Thibodeau's trademark. They certainly looked good on Thursday. They held the Cavs to 43.5 percent shooting from the field. The Cavs weren't able to throw all those lobs to Mozgov like they did in the win over Miami. The Bulls have legitimate rim protectors in Gasol and most notably Noah. Noah might not be one of those warm and fuzzy guys, but he can flat out play and he's as tough as nails. Noah finished with 10 points, a game-high 15 rebounds, a team-high seven assists and one block. He's a flat-out winner.

9. The Cavs dropped to 12-13 on the road. They are also 5-4 in the Central Division. They've now lost all every team in the Central Division this season.

10. James (6,118) passed former Celtics great John Havlicek (6,114) for the second-most assists by a forward in NBA history. Chicago's Scottie Pippen (6,135) is first on the list. Pippen was at Thursday's game.

UP NEXT: at Washington, Verizon Center, 8 p.m. Feb. 20

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Mike Dunleavy (6-9, 230)
PF Tristan Thompson (6-10, 238) vs. Pau Gasol (7-0, 255)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Joakim Noah (6-11, 232)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Tony Snell (6-7, 200)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Derrick Rose (6-3, 190)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G Joe Harris
Bulls - G Kirk Hinrich, G Jimmy Butler
Mike Callahan, Nick Buchert, Scott Wall

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Game 54: Heat at Cavs

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (33-21) 113, MIAMI HEAT (22-30) 93
Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: ESPN, Fox Sports Ohio

1. The Cavaliers toyed with the Heat for much of the night. They stretched their lead to 26 points at one point before Miami rallied. The game wasn't nearly as emotional for LeBron James as was the first meeting on Christmas Day. It was just another game for James.

2. The Cavs continue to roll, winning 14 of their last 15 games. Offensively, they shot 56.4 percent from the field and dished out 32 assists. They've amassed 30 or more assists in back-to-back games for the first time since 1999. They are also 5-0 when they record 30 or more assists.

3. They have reached 33 wins, which matched their victory total for the 2013-14 season under fired coach Mike Brown. They have a chance to go into the All-Star break with 34 wins, but it's not going to be easy. They've already beaten the Bulls twice this year and Chicago wants nothing better than to unseat the Cavs on Thursday. "We'll have our hands full tomorrow," Cavs coach David Blatt said.

4. The Heat have now lost six of their last eight games. They are hanging onto the seventh playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, despite several injuries to key personnel. All-Star guard Dwyane Wade remains out with a strained hamstring. He will also miss the All-Star Game. LeBron James knows why the Heat are hanging around in the playoff race. "They have championship DNA," he said.

5. Heat power forward Chris Bosh continues to have an All-Star season. He's averaging 21.2 points and 7.3 rebounds. Bosh managed just 15 points and two rebounds. He went almost 16 minutes in one stretch without hauling in a rebound. Cavs power forward Kevin Love was on his way to totally outplaying Bosh before he suffered his eye injury.

6. The Cavs have won a season-high 10 consecutive games at The Q, their longest home streak since 2010. They are outscoring foes by 14.7 points per game during their home streak (108.1-93.4). Team are shooting 40.1 percent from the field against them during the nine-game streak. The Cavs have won by double figures in nine of those 10 games.

7. How much have the Cavs improved on defense? Since Jan. 19, they are second in the NBA in defensive field-goal percentage (40.9 percent) and fourth in points allowed (94.1).

8. James (6,114) is now tied with former Celtics great John Havlicek (6,114) for the second-most assists by a forward in NBA history. Chicago's Scottie Pippen (6,135) is first on the list. James also grabbed 10 rebounds in back-to-back games for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

9. Cavs center Timofey "I love to dunk" Mozgov continues to get more comfortable on this team. He has 16 blocks in his last seven games (2.3). He had seven dunks on the night en route to a season-high 20 points. The nine field goals are also a season high.

10. The Cavs had seven players reach double figures for the second time this season. The other came at Denver on Nov. 7.

UP NEXT: at Chicago, United Center, 8 p.m. Thursday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Luol Deng (6-9, 220)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Chris Bosh (6-11, 235)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Hassan Whiteside (7-0, 265)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Mario Chalmers (6-2, 190)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Shabazz Napier (6-1, 175)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao
Heat - F Josh McRoberts, G Dwyane Wade
Ed Malloy, Mark Lindsay, James Williams

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Game 53: Lakers at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7

1. The Cavaliers need one more victory to tie last year's record of 33 wins - and we're not at the All-Star break just yet. This was an important game to see how they'd respond to the loss at Indiana on Friday. That's where they had their season-high 12-game winning streak stopped. In that game, the Cavs didn't execute their offense. The ball stopped moving altogether and the Cavs reverted to one-one-one basketball. That was anything but the case against the Lakers. The Cavs shot 55 percent from the field, 55 percent from the 3-point line and dished out 31 assists.

2. The Lakers were playing without two Hall of Famers: guards Kobe Bryant (right rotator cuff surgery) and Steve Nash (sciatic pain). Also sidelined were power forwards Jordan Hill (hip flexor strain) and Julius Randle (broken right leg) and guard Ronnie Price (sore right elbow).

3. The Lakers have lost four in a row, as well as 13 of their last 14. They had just seven turnovers in the game, which kept them within striking distance. The Cavs finished 2-0 vs. the Lakers this year. They beat the Lakers on Jan. 15 at the Staples Center, 109-102. The Lakers were 3-12 in January and are 0-4 thus far in February.

4. There was some question whether Cavs forward LeBron James would play. Coach David Blatt said James was a little sore before the game, but decided to play. His injuries are starting to be a bit concerning. We always think of him as being indestructible. At 30 years old, he's not any more. He's human after all.

5. It was good to see old friend Byron Scott, who coached three years in Cleveland from 2010-13. Paul Pressey is on his staff, as well. He was Scott's lead assistant with the Cavs. Scott coached Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao on the Cavs, as well as J.R. Smith in New Orleans. So, he's familiar with the Cavs' personnel. The team he is coaching right now is a glorified D-League team, with a few exceptions. They are not very good. Even with their full complement of players, this team was going to be one of the worst teams in the West.

6. The Cavs remain a half-game back of the Bulls for the Central Division lead. Chicago rallied to beat Orlando on Sunday. 

7. Love played out of his mind with a season-high 32 points, 10 rebounds and three assists. He made 11 of 18 from the field and 7 of 8 from the 3-point line. He made 5 of 5 3s in the second quarter when he fired in 17 points. Once again, Blatt took exception to the media questioning Love after the game. 

UP NEXT: vs. Miami, Quicken Loans Arena, 7 p.m. Wednesday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Ryan Kelly (6-11, 230)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Tarik Blak (6-9, 250)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Robert Sacre (7-2, 275)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Wayne Ellington (6-4, 200)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Robert Clarkson (6-5, 205)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao
Lakers - F Julius Randle, G Steve Nash
Marc Davis, Karl Lane, Josh Tiven

Friday, February 6, 2015

Game 52: Cavs at Pacers

Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. Bet you didn't see this one coming, did you? This happens often on the tail end of a back-to-back, especially on the road. But the Cavs starters were well-rested. None of them played a minute in the fourth quarter of Thursday's big win over the Los Angeles Clippers. They had their 12-game winning streak snapped by a team 13 games under .500, one that was just 4-20 vs. teams over .500 before the game. You knew the winning streak wasn't going to last forever. They hadn't lost since Jan. 13 in Phoenix, LeBron James' first game back from his two-week layoff.

2. James aggravated his sprained right wrist on a fall under the basket. He was elevating toward the rim, but got knocked off balance by Pacers center Roy Hibbert. He got charged with a flagrant-1 foul. We'll find out if James misses any more time when he wakes up in the morning. He was on the sideline in the late going of the game, which was a bit strange.

3. The Cavaliers dropped to second place in the Central Division behind Chicago (30-20). They also slipped back into fifth place in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

4. Believe it or not, the Cavs have lost their last nine games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Pacers are playing without All-Star swingman Paul George, who broke his leg last summer, backup center Ian Mahinmi (sprained right ankle) and forward Lavoy Allen (sore right knee).

5. This one had to feel nice for Pacers swingman C.J. Miles, who had played the previous two seasons with the Cavs. He signed with Indiana in free agency. The Cavs had little or no interest in re-signing him. He had a team-high 26 points, 16 in the fourth quarter.

6. The Cavaliers played as well in the Clippers game as they have all season. They were ready for a letdown. It's human nature. They allowed the Pacers to be the aggressors tonight. In the Clippers game, the Cavs pushed the action. Against Indiana, they stood back and watched it happen.

7. The Cavs had hoped they could keep power forward Kevin Love playing at a high level. He reverted right back to some of his old ways against the Pacers. He finished with five points and eight rebounds. He didn't make a shot after the first quarter. He was just 2 of 8 in the game. In the late going, he either passed up shots and took terrible looking shots that had zero chance of going in. I've never seen a guy with so much ability play such invisible minutes. I can't figure this guy out.

8. Love went from outplaying All-Star Blake Griffin on Thursday to sitting on the bench in crunch time against the Pacers. Coach David Blatt can get as sassy as he wants when the media asks about Love, but there's something going on here. Feel free to fill me in because it's got me baffled.

9. The Cavs are 19-9 at home, 12-12 on the road.

10. This was the first time the Cavs have allowed 100 or more points since the Clippers game on Jan. 16 - a span of 12 games. 

UP NEXT: vs. Los Angeles Lakers, Quicken Loans Arena, 3:30 p.m. Sunday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Solomon Hill (6-7, 225)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. David West (6-9, 250)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Roy Hibbert (7-2, 275)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. C.J. Miles (6-6, 225)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. George Hill (6-3, 192)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G Joe Harris
Pacers - F Paul George, F Lavoy Allen
Mike Callahan, Dedric Taylor, Scott Wall

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Game 51: Clippers at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7

1. The first-place Cavaliers' impressive 12-game winning streak was never in jeopardy against the Clippers. The Cavs haven't lost since Jan. 13 in Phoenix. They have the third-longest winning streak in franchise history. If they are able to get past the Pacers on Friday, they'd be tied for the franchise best. 

2. They moved past struggling Chicago and into first place in the Central Division. With Washington's loss at Charlotte, the Cavs are now tied with the Wizards for the No. 3 seed in the Easstern Conference playoff race. If they keep playing like they have been, they'll catch No. 2 Toronto, as well. Atlanta might be too much to ask for. Ten and a half games is a lot to make up.

3. The Clippers have lost three of their last four games. They are in the midst of an eight-game road trip. They are 2-3 thus far. Starting shooting guard J.J. Redick was held out of the game with back spasms. Jamal Crawford started and had 13 points. None of those things had anything to do with the outcome.

4. The Cavaliers came out and just jumped on the Clippers right from the start. By the time Coach David Blatt pulled his starters, the Cavs had a 32-point bulge. Now, the Cavs played about as poorly as they could play in the fourth. They made just 2 of 14 shots and committed nine turnovers. That led to them being outscored in the fourth, 31-11.

5. The Clippers' vaunted frontcourt of center DeAndre Jordan, power forward Blake Griffin and small forward Matt Barnes didn't rise to the challenge. They were badly outplayed by the Cavs. Jordan leads the league in rebounding (13.6) and field-goal accuracy (73.2 percent) and is second in blocked shots (2.5). He holds the NBA's longest active consecutive games played streak with 289. Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson is right on his heels at 256. Thompson hasn't missed a game since Feb. 10, 2010.

6. They were outplayed by the Cavs' frontcourt, especially Kevin Love (24 points, nine rebounds, three assists). The Cavs wanted to quiet all the noise about Love. They sure did.  Some were worried (OK, me) about the Love-Griffin matchup. Love totally outplayed the All-Star, and made a major statement on national TV.

7. The Cavs have won 12 of their last 13 games at The Q against the Clippers. They are also 17-3 lifetime vs. the Clippers at The Q. They've also won their last eight games against Western Conference opponents since their loss at Phoenix Jan. 13.

8. Their 12-game winning streak is the longest in the NBA. They haven't won that many since they ripped off 13 in a row from Jan. 16-Feb. 11, 2010 - more than five years ago. During the streak, they are outscoring opponents by an average of 12.8 points (108.1-95.3) and holding them to a combined 41.8 percent shooting from the floor. 

8. They haven't allowed more than 100 points in 10 consecutive games. The Clippers came into the game averaging 106.7 points per game. They managed just 94, including 63 through three quarters.

9. Thompson's four offensive rebounds moved him past Tyrone Hill (955) for ninth place in franchise history. Thompson is having an outstanding season off the bench for the Cavs. He pulled down 10 rebounds against the Clippers.

10. James has averaged 27.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists in the 12-game winning streak. He recorded his 13th double-double of the season in the win over the 76ers (18 points, 11 assists), which surpasses his total from 2013-14.

UP NEXT: at Indiana, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 7 p.m. Friday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Matt Barnes (6-7, 226)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Blake Griffin (6-10, 251)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. DeAndre Jordan (6-11, 265)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. Jamal Crawford (6-5, 200)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Chris Paul (6-0, 175)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao, G Joe Harris
Clippers - N/A
Ken Mauer, Lauren Holtkamp, Eric Lewis

Monday, February 2, 2015

Game 50: 76ers at Cavs

Quicken Loans Arena
Radio: WTAM-AM 1100, WMMS-FM 100.7, La Mega-FM 97.7
TV: Fox Sports Ohio

1. The Cavaliers had a chance to end their winning streak tonight against perhaps the worst team in the league. However, for the second consecutive game, they pulled it out in the fourth quarter. The same thing happened in the Minnesota game on Saturday.

2. With the way the Cavs are defending, they could make a deep push into the postseason. That is the main reason they've won 11 in a row. They've held their last nine opponents under 100 points. That hasn't happened since March 15-31, 2009. In that nine-game defensive streak, they are holding teams to 91.9 points per game and a combined 40.2 percent shooting from the field and 33 percent from behind the arc.

3. Losing to the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 5, 95-92, might have been the low point of the Cavs season. They squandered a 17-point lead in the third quarter. The Cavs missed 11 consecutive shots in a stretch that bridged the third and fourth quarters. Guard Tony Wroten burned the Cavs with 20 points. The Cavs didn't have to worry about him in tonight's game. He tore his ACL in his left knee and is done for the season.

4. The 11-game winning streak is the longest in the NBA. That's because the Hawks' 19-game streak ended in New Orleans tonight. What's more important, the Cavs are only one-half game behind Chicago in the Central Division. I think they can move to the No. 2 seed in the East. The Hawks might have too much of a lead.

5. The Cavs' next game will be one of their toughest. They host the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday in a nationally televised game on TNT. That's going to be a tough one and will put their impressive streak in jeopardy. During the winning streak, they are winning by a +12.9-point differential (109.5-96.6). 

6. Not only are the Cavs defending, they are purring offensively. They have scored 100 or more points in 10 of their last 12 games. They are 23-4 when they top the 100-point plateau, including 14-0 at The Q. They are 22-1 when they score at least 102 points. That's second-best in the NBA to Memphis' 23-1 mark.

7. Some people love to rip on Matthew Dellavedova, but he came to play against the Sixers. He had 12 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. His three 3-point goals were huge in that game. He also defended his butt off. Coach David Blatt has been playing him the entire fourth quarters because he knows he'll defend. I can't argue with him.

UP NEXT: vs. Los Angeles Clippers, 8 p.m. Thursday

SF LeBron James (6-8, 250) vs. Luc Mbah a Moute (6-8, 230)
PF Kevin Love (6-10, 243) vs. Robert Covington (6-9, 215)
C Timofey Mozgov (7-1, 250) vs. Nerlens Noel (6-11, 220)
SG J.R. Smith (6-6, 220) vs. JaKarr Sampson (6-9, 214)
PG Kyrie Irving (6-3, 193) vs. Michael Carter-Williams (6-6, 190)
Cavs - C Anderson Varejao
76ers - G Tony Wroten, C Joel Embiid
David Guthrie, Violet Palmer, Sean Wright