What a week it was for Cleveland Cavaliers basketball.
The Cavaliers made an astonishing 53 threes over the course of the last three games; the Cavaliers hit 20+ threes in back-to-back games for the first time in NBA history against the Blazers on Wednesday and against the Mavericks on Friday, ending the week hitting 12 treys against the Sixers.
The player of the week for the Cavaliers was Kevin Love. He had a dominant week, scoring 40 against Portland (eight three-pointers), 27 against Dallas (seven three-pointers), and then 25 against the Sixers (four three-pointers). Love is now averaging 22.1 points a game, grabbing 10.7 boards a game, and he is shooting 42.3 percent from distance: in effect, he is rebounding better than Boogie Cousins and is hitting threes at a Steph Curry percentage. He is back to being the Kevin Love that thrived in Minnesota, and it is obvious that his confidence is back too. Love has been very aggressive when the ball is in his hands - abusing mismatches in the paint, picking and popping at an elite level, and he is rebounding once again because he is closer to the bucket than he has been in the last two seasons. Love is 1.7 points off of Irving's team lead in scoring, and he is playing like an All-Star Starter this season, so it will be interesting to see if he gets the recognition for his play or not.
Let's not lose sight of LeBron James either. The King had two triple-doubles this week, one against the Blazers and the other against the Sixers, so he has been playing amazingly well, as per usual. One thing that is going unnoticed is that he has improved his three-point shooting percentage to the third highest rate of his career. He is nailing treys at a 36.8 percent clip to start this season, which is his highest number as a member of the Cavaliers Franchise.
One final note, it would be wrong not to acknowledge the fact that our thoughts and prayers are with Cavalier power forward Channing Frye as he is grieving the death of his father, only three weeks after the death of his mother. He is currently on leave from the team while he deals with the death of his father.
Tuesday, 29 November 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
Tuesday Night the Cavaliers take their show on the road, traveling to the BMO Harris Bradley Center to take on the, at the time of writing, 6-8 Milwaukee Bucks. The Cavaliers will be facing off against an old friend for the first time as they have to go against Matthew Dellavedova for the first time. It will be interesting to see if things get chippy between Delly and Irving, or any of the Cavaliers for that matter.
This Milwaukee Bucks team is the definition of a midpack team. Apart from Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Bucks are an ignorable squad. There is not much of anything they excel at as a team, but they are not horrible at anything either. They are mid-pack in terms of pace, offensive and defensive rating, net rating, etc., but if I had to point to one place where they are above average, it would be that they pass the ball. They are top five in terms of assist percentage, the percentage of baskets that are made via an assist, and in terms of assist ratio, which is the number of assists per 100 possessions.
Their team length seems to bother the Warriors though as they beat them once last year and they only lost by three points in their most recent matchup with the Warriors last week. They will not roll over and die when the big guns come to Wisconsin, but I do not expect the team to beat the Cavaliers, given the way they have been playing lately.
Los Angeles Clippers
Thursday, 1 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Home
This is the game of the year for the Cavaliers so far. The Clippers have newfound chemistry, and they have been tearing up the league so far this year. They come into the game with the third-best offensive rating, third-best defensive rating, and the second-best net rating in the league. They started this season on a tear, and as of the time of writing, they are 14-3.
The Clippers have been beaten the last two times they have visited Quicken Loans Arena, but I would expect that to change this year. Granted, the Cavaliers have also been playing great, but they have not been putting forth much effort on the defensive end of the floor. The Clippers will be able to score against the Cavaliers like other teams have been able to do this year. So, unless there is a concerted effort to play defense and try to hang with the Clippers, this game could slip away from the Cavaliers.
The Clippers are a match for the Cavaliers. The Cavaliers have the benefit of being at home in front of the best fans in the league. This is the biggest game of the year—so far—for the Cavaliers so the crowd will be pumped up. James will be playing against his good friend Chris Paul, so he will be ready, and Kevin Love will be able to play against Blake Griffen. No doubt will he relish the opportunity to duel once again with the Clipper's power forward. Both teams take care of the ball, score at will and both teams can both shoot the ball extremely well. This game will come down to the old and overused, but sometimes true enough cliche of who wants it more.
Friday, 2 December 2016 at 08:00 PM ET Away
LeBron James loves playing against his best friend, Dwyane Wade. He is not used to it being done at the United Center, though.
Dwyane Wade and the Chicago Bulls host the Cavaliers Friday night in what is sure to be a fun game. The Bulls are caught in a gaggle of teams who are tied for second in the East at 10-6 on the year, and they have looked much better this year than they did last year under coach Fred Hoiberg. Dwyane Wade, Jimmy Butler, and Rajon Rondo have all been attempting to fit in with each other, and they have done a good enough job so far. Wade is averaging 18.9 points per game on 44.3 percent shooting, and he is shooting a career-high 38.5 percent from long range to start the year. He worked on his three-ball shooting this offseason, an offseason he spent not working with the Heat in order to get Durant to South Beach, a summer where the Heat decided that it was best to move on without the former face of the franchise.
James and Wade have been known to have their games against each other become personal challenges to one another with the two men having many scoring duels over the course of the last 14 years.
The Cavaliers will look to put some space in between themselves, and their closest divisional rival as the two teams clash for the first time this season. The Bulls have been good, but just not good enough to get by LeBron James for the last eight seasons. James has thwarted the Bulls from any victory since the 2008 season started, and it does not look like they will be able to best the King and Co. with this latest iteration of the team either. Regardless, the game against the Bulls on Friday will likely be a high-scoring game, but the Bulls do not have enough perimeter shooting to hang with the number of threes the Cavaliers can pour in the bucket. Do not be surprised to see Love have a big game against the Bulls as they lack interior depth at the power forward position. Also, due to the fact that he is playing against Wade, do not be surprised to see James put up a triple-double.