Cavs dribbles: Kyrie, LeBron and Wiggins vs. Love
Random dribbles on the Cavaliers, who face the Sacramento Kings on Friday:
1. The winning streak stands at eight, and that alone is impressive. But did you know the Cavs (27-20) have five in a row against teams from the powerful Western Conference? That includes the Los Angeles Clippers on the road and the Portland Trail Blazers at home.
2. The Cavs also beat the Chicago Bulls in there, and the Bulls won at the Golden State Warriors the other night. So here is what we should deduce: Man, the Cavs sure are lookin’ good.
3. Cavs coach David Blatt said he’s never seen anything like Kyrie Irving’s 55-point performance against the Blazers. "In one game, a player who has that kind of game, and that kind of point total, no. First time ever. I said that to my assistant coaches after the game. I’ve seen a lot of great performances, but something like that I have not seen. And I’ve been coaching a long time."
4. As for the defense, Cavs fans and national media types will have to find something else to whine about. The Cavs have been very, very good since obtaining Timofey Mozgov, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert in trades a couple weeks back. On Wednesday, they limited the talented Blazers to a mere 40-percent shooting. With the 7-foot-1 Mozgov behind them, the guards and wings can now afford to gamble and go for steals.
5. Of course, having LeBron James on the team never hurts in any area, either.
6. And about that James injury. The Cavs didn’t practice nor provide an update Thursday. Most likely because nothing with has changed. LeBron’s wrist is likely still sprained and likely still very sore. I asked him after the Detroit game (when he fell hard in third quarter) if the wrist was bothering him. He said it felt fine. Not surprisingly, the real pain came the next day. That’s the way those things usually work.
7. As it stands, James is listed as doubtful for the Kings. We’ll likely know more at shootaround, or just before tip. LeBron wants to play. But perhaps the Cavs can pay back the Kings without him. If you remember, the Kings embarrassed the Cavs few weeks back in Sacramento. The Cavs didn’t have LeBron then, either — as he sat out with a knee and back strain.
8. The Cavs are 2-8 without James. But as I wrote before, most of those came before the additions of Smith, Mozgov and Shumpert. Those three aren’t superstars, but they are vital pieces to what should be a winning team. The more they fit in with the others, the better the Cavs will be.
9. In other words, despite the eight-game winning streak, I think the Cavs have yet to peak. Provided James and Irving stay healthy, they’re going places.
10. Meanwhile, Kevin Love has taken a lot of flak lately. As usual, a lot of it has been overdone, as people just like to complain. Truth is, a lot of teams would kill for a power forward who averages 17.1 points and 10.3 rebounds, especially if that power forward played next to LeBron and Kyrie. But like I said, people just want a reason to mope and take shots at guys. Guess it makes them feel like NBA experts or something.
11. This isn’t to say Love has been everything the Cavs hoped. He’s struggling a little. His back is hurting. His knee isn’t great. Nothing is serious, he’s just banged up. That’s what happens when you mix it up underneath. It comes at a price.
12. I wrote last month to relax about LeBron, about Blatt, about the Cavs. I wrote to give it time. I wrote to be patient and wait, that the Cavs will get a rim protector and a wing defender. I wrote that they would find a spot-up shooter. I’ve been wrong plenty, and will be again. I promise. But every once in a while, it’s pretty easy to see the Cavs’ plan. You don’t even need "inside sources." You just need patience. So pretty please, with sugar on top, give Love a little more time.
13. I’m so sick of hearing about how Andrew Wiggins and what he’s doing in Minnesota. I love Wiggins’ game. I think he’ll be a very good pro. But first of all, Kevin Love put up huge numbers with the lousy Timberwolves, too. Secondly, Love’s "disappointing" numbers with the Cavs are still better than Wiggins’ stats with the Wolves. And the Wolves are the worst team in the league. Someone’s gotta score.
14. I just think fans sometimes are the absolute worst. Just so irrational. But what do I know? I’ve only been covering the game longer than 90 percent of the people who are currently in the NBA have been in the league. In some cases, I’ve been covering it longer than they’ve been alive.
15. OK, I’m done ranting. I love my readers. It’s just the talk among national media and outsiders that makes you want to throw the remote through the TV.
16. Besides all that, if the Cavs had Wiggins instead of Love, I guarantee their record would be worse and they’d be getting destroyed on the boards way too often. I think Wiggins would average about 6 points per game on the current Cavs. Probably more in the future — but right now, for this team, I’d rather have J.R. Smith. And it’s not even close.
17. Did you know the Atlanta Hawks are 31-2 since Nov. 28? That’s unreal. Wonder why certain websites haven’t started a "Hawks Index" yet? The Hawks have won 17 straight.