The Cleveland Cavaliers won a tough one against the New Orleans Pelicans. Everybody was finally healthy and available on the roster, but will the coaching staff utilize their options?
The Cavaliers came out in the first quarter with energy on both sides of the floor, but as they’ve been doing all season, they let the New Orleans Pelicans back into the game.
The Pels were even up 15 at one point. What led to the quick shift? No defense being played, Iso ball and stagnant ball movement. This is a sad truth, but it’s almost expected for the Cavs to give up the lead at some point during the game. Fans just know that a 20-point lead will soon be a five-point lead for the opposing team.
What can stop this from happening on a game-to-game basis? Defense.
Unfortunately, it’s way too late in the season to make major adjustments. This team is what it is: a club that will bend, but not break.
Every game it seems like basic fundamentals are a struggle for the Cavs. For example, in Friday’s game against the Pelicans, Anthony Davis, Jrue Holiday, Darius Miller and Rajon Rondo were getting dribble penetration to the basket without any resistance from the defense.
Players were left open for wide open 3-point attempts, it was business as usual.
It feels like Groundhog Day when writing these articles, but when a team underachieves as the Cavaliers, you can only hope to find improvement somewhere.
However, one thing that won’t ever need any adjustments is James. It seems like he’s setting or breaking records during each game.
His 27 points, 11 assist and nine rebounds set a new record of most double-figure scoring games in a row in NBA history at 867 games. It surpasses Michael Jordan at 866.
It’s amazing that his streak started back on Jan. 6, 2007 against the New Jersey Nets — now known as the Brooklyn Nets. According to Basketball Reference, James had 19 points, 13 rebounds and only four assists. Who scored more during this game? Drew Gooden and Larry Hughes with 21 points apiece.
My, how the times have changed.
James should crush the record at 873 with just six games to go. This is something that NBA fans will possibly never see again in this lifetime.
He broke the record at around the six-minute mark in the first quarter with a booming dunk. During the next timeout, the announcer at Quicken Loans Arena announced that James broke the record and the crowd gave him a well deserved ovation — mixed with MVP chants.
The Cavaliers played awful for three quarters, but they finally turned it around in the fourth. James and Jordan Clarkson took the game over. Clarkson has been struggling on both ends of the floor the past few games but he might have turned it around against the Pelicans. He finished with 23 points.
Rodney Hood had a good game with his return to the starting lineup. He finished with 16 points in 28 minutes. Hood is starting to be more aggressive and find his own shot instead of being indecisive with the ball.
He went 2-for-3 from 3-point range. It’s a start, but Hood needs to find his shot and put up more attempts. He’s too good a player to be stagnant. I can see him as a Klay Thompson type player once he finds his consistency defensively and offensively.
It was a big win for the Cavs, but it shouldn’t have been as tough as they made it. Yes, it was against a playoff contender, but talent wise — and without New Orleans having DeMarcus Cousins — they should have won the game comfortably.
Talent trumps all, and at the end of the day, it’s still basketball. The Cavs only have six games left to find continuity on both sides of the floor.
The coaching staff must find a way to stick with one lineup and let it grow for the rest of the season. But it just doesn’t seem like they will do that.
Now with the return of coach Tyronn Lue within the next few games, he could change things up again.
The only thing Cavaliers fans can hope for at this point is for it to come together as it did last postseason at the right time.
Everybody is happy Lue is in better health and ready to conquer the playoffs, but it still doesn’t change the fact that a new head coach should be appointed no matter the outcome of the postseason.