Tyronn Lue warned for weeks that the Cavs weren’t playing up to their potential, that despite the gaudy record there was still room to improve. They were missing too many open looks that would eventually start to fall. And when that happened, duck and cover because the fire they could bring could burn down the rest of the league.
Well, grab the ax and hose. This team is playing to its potential this week and destroyed two Western Conference opponents in the process.
Kevin Love scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in the Cavs’ 128-90 dismantling of the Dallas Mavericks on Friday. Kyrie Irving scored 25 points, LeBron James had 19 points and 11 assists and Tristan Thompson scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. None of them played the fourth quarter. There was no need. The game was long over before the half.
There have been times this season when the Cavs have lost focus, when they’ve let up against inferior opponents and let weak teams back in games. This was not one of those nights.
A 3-pointer from Love, one of seven he made Friday, extended the lead to 68-28 in the second quarter. Lue ran the starters hard through three quarters before giving them the rest of the night off.
The Cavs’ starting five remains one of the most explosive units in the league. They entered Friday averaging 41 points a game when playing together on the floor, second in the league (minimum 10 games) behind only the Los Angeles Clippers, whose starting unit averages 48.9 points when playing together.
The Mavericks dragged the league’s worst record into Friday’s game primarily because of injuries. This marked just the fourth time all season they played with their projected starting lineup, but it didn’t matter.
The 16 points Dallas scored in the first quarter were the fewest for any Cleveland opponent this season. The 38 points the Mavericks managed at the half matched the fewest scored in any half against the Cavs this season.
Love, meanwhile, has made 15 3-pointers in his last two games after making a total of 18 in the first 12 games.
The Cavs averaged 132.5 points in wins over the Blazers and Mavericks. To be fair, the Blazers are underperforming as a middling .500 team and the Mavericks have been a disaster most of the season, but scoring so many points against any NBA opponent is noteworthy.
Dirk Nowitzki scored 15 points and Andrew Bogut grabbed 11 rebounds for the Mavericks. Nowitzki just recently returned from an Achilles injury and starting point guard Deron Williams has battled a strained calf that has cost him eight games this season.
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