LeBron James gave the Cavs a motivational speech at halftime, then went on the court and performed.
Random dribbles on the Cavaliers’ 108-90 buzzsaw of a win over the host Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday:
1. Sometimes, LeBron James is just better than everyone else and decides to show it. That was basically the story from this one — as the Bucks trotted out their ugly uniforms on their ugly floor, and James turned in a performance that can only be described as basketball beauty.
2. And man, the Cavs sure look playoff-ready, don’t they?
3. The Cavs came out flat, lacking energy and it looked like one of those days. You know, the kind where everyone else was paying attention to the NCAA tournament and the Cavs and Bucks were just sort of waiting until their 48 minutes of work were up. Then LeBron dunked.
4. The Bucks entered the day as losers of five straight and 12 of their previous 15. But like everyone else, they sure got fired up when they saw LeBron and his friends. The Bucks led by nine points at halftime and extended it to 11 in the third quarter.
5. LeBron actually threw down several monster jams, but the most notable came with 1:19 to go in the third. It came after a blocked shot, and after James stuffed it, he glared at the Bucks’ bench. It cut the deficit to 73-69 and for the poor Bucks, you could just tell it was over. It was LeBron time.
6. Of course, James finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, but it was more than just him. He just happened to get the Cavs going. J.R. Smith was a sizzling 7-of-9 on 3-pointers to score 23 points, and Kyrie Irving scored 20 and passed for seven assists. So the Cavs got plenty of contributions all the way around.
7. But it was James who could tell the Cavs didn’t have it, that they needed something to awaken them. He started by giving them a not-so-friendly pep talk in the locker room at halftime. Then, he led by example. And what an example it was.
8. LeBron put it this way: "I was frustrated with our play. I know when to press the button when need be. Tonight was one of those nights when I needed to press the button."
9. Smith threw a perfect alley-oop to James off the break and hit three consecutive threes in front of the Bucks’ bench in the fourth. He was a huge difference, proving yet again the Cavs can cream you in any number of ways and with multiple people.
10. After a fourth three, Smith just sort of shook his head in amazement. "It surprised me because I had just hit three in a row, and then to leave me wide open, I was just like, ‘What did you think was going to happen?’" he said of the Bucks. "They called a timeout and then we just ran away with it."
11. While the Cavs have compiled an NBA-best record of 27-6 since mid-January, the Bucks are 4-13 since the trade that sent point guard Brandon Knight to the Phoenix Suns and brought in Michael Carter-Williams (19 points) from the Philadelphia 76ers. True to form of a young team, they often start well then fade when the game means the most. Their biggest issue seems to be taking care of the ball.
12. As Bucks coach Jason Kidd said after the game: "For any team, not just LeBron, when you give those guys free opportunities like that, they’re going to make you pay for it, and they did."
13. That about sums it up perfectly. The Cavs have become a team that will capitalize when you make even the most minor mistakes. A talent like James can do that to an opponent â all by himself. But with the likes of Irving, Smith, Kevin Love, Timofey Mozgov and others, LeBron has plenty of help.
14. I know I’m stating the obvious there, but sometimes nothing more than the obvious needs to be stated. LeBron James is often just better than everyone else, and it’s the Cavs who are again the beneficiaries of it. Sometimes, there’s really no other way to spin it, and that was certainly the case Sunday.