This was the type of game that shows the team has bought into developing a strong defensive presence, even when the offense is struggling. The strides this team is making are exactly what the Cavs need to make the finals this year, regardless of how much the offense can do when they're clicking. Aside from D.J. Augustine hitting just about every shot that he was taking, regardless of how well defended he was, it took two mystery 3-point fouls to bring the Pistons close at the end of the game. And while the game was drawn out for about an extra 10 points on both sides (thank you for allowing teams to foul 14 times in a row while only taking 2 seconds off the clock, NBA!), I don't believe the game was ever really as close as the scoreboard suggested.
Neither team developed a groove on the offensive side of the floor, which made for a fairly uneasy feeling throughout. Even the Thunder game (in my opinion) felt like a more comfortable game for the Cavs. It legitimately took a combined 70 points from LeBron and Kyrie to get this team the win, but that also shows the amazing power of having two legitimate max-players (still not buying into Love 100 percent yet, but I'll get into that later). LeBron started the fire in the second quarter, after the team started a miserable 5 for 21 during the first ten minutes, which allowed Irving enough time to get his shot right. Once Irving hit his first 3-point shot, he was lights out the rest of the way.
I do want to take a brief moment to talk about Kevin Love though. Love did not look great, but there were far more concerning aspects of his game other than missing shots. All too frequently during the game, Love would receive a pass behind the 3-point line, perfectly queued for an open shot, only to fake the shot and end up passing to another player on the team. I don't know if Love's shooting motion is fairly slow on the whole (which I hadn't noticed until last night), or if he was feeling gun shy, but here is what I'll say...
Max players don't shy away from shooting open shots. The more startling aspect of his line last night was that he only had 4 assists. If Love was passing up shots for better shots, that number would have been much higher.
Love's lack of production this game was not a result of him being used inappropriately within the offense, but not taking opportunities when they were presented. We saw during the Thunder game how effective he could be when his shot is falling, but is this what he will look like when his shot is off? Just because Love CAN make threes and rebound at a high rate does not mean that he SHOULD get a max contract. At this time, I think it's hard to argue that Love couldn't be replaced by two role players that could each fill a respective hole better (i.e. TT for rebounding, Mirotic for shooting) who will both come at a cheaper price and defend better.
I'm still hopeful that Love will turn his game around, but at least his lack of production hasn't killed this team. Being on this winning streak will continue to paper over issues for the Cavs, and we can address contracts after the season, but there is a time approaching that these issues will need to be addressed.
But enough of the doom and gloom for one article. Tonight the team is on against Portland at the Q to extend the win-streak to 8. Still a long way to go to catch up to the Hawks.