Cleveland are worthy of title defense
Over the years Cleveland Cavaliers have established themselves as a top-table side in Western Conference. Cavs have been playing an important role in the league ever since LeBron James returned to Quicken Loans Arena and they proved their worth in the 2016 NBA finals. Tyronn Lue’s men outplayed Golden State Warriors in the title game and they are now on a quest to defend their trophy.
Cleveland Cavaliers have been producing fine displays in the NBA so far this season. Cavs are a real force to be reckoned with at home and they put the icing on the cake with a win over Warriors. LeBron James impressed in the 109-108 victory over Steve Kerr’s team and despite the fact that Kevin Love is enjoying probably the best season of his career (21.8 points per game), no doubt, “King James” is still considered the number one performer on the team sheet. LeBron James has been averaging 8.6 assists this season and if we take a gander at the last season’s stats, he has made a lot of progress (6.8) in passing.
Kevin Love is taking more shots than before, he is playing like a superstar again and the former Minnesota Timberwolves power forward has improved defensively as well. Last season he surrendered 1.0 points per possession when defending the pick and roll and he has been giving up no more than 0.69 points per possession this term.
Tristan Thompson is still doing the dirty work and it has to be noted that the center has improved his rebounding. Thompson has been averaging 10.2 rebounds this term and you should bear in mind that he had nine rebounds per game in the 2015/2016 NBA season. It is well known that Tristan is not considered a great shooter and that is the main reason why Cavs score no more than 37.7 points per game in the paint (28th in the league).
Kyrie Irving is yet another superstar in Tyronn Lue’s team and it is more than obvious that he is helping the team improve offensively. Kyrie had 19.6 points per game last season, but he has been producing much better performances in the NBA this term (23.9). “The Uncle Drew” is forcing a quicker tempo when he takes the ball and that is the main reason why the title holders have been averaging 110.8 points this season.
J.R. Smith has been playing below expectations in the 2016/2017 season. The former Knicks man was averaging 12.4 points last season and he has 8.6 points per game this term, but power forward Channing Frye is making progress week in week out.
Richard Jefferson is nearing the end of his playing days, but he is still regarded as one of the team’s best defenders. The 36-year-old small forward is making wise defensive plays and he helped Cavs beat Warriors in December by preventing Kevin Durant from scoring the winner in the dying seconds of the match.
Anyhow, Cleveland Cavaliers are certainly capable of improving defensively as they have been conceding 12.1 fast break points per game this season. On the other hand, Cavs have been scoring 12.7 fast break points per game in the 2016/2017 NBA campaign, but the team’s main offensive weapon are three point shots. Tyronn Lue’s charges score 39.9 points per game from three-pointers and they are second best in the league in said category.
Coach Tyronn Lue is likely to use games against bottom-table sides to rest his key players as the season is quite long, which could give them extra edge over their title rivals. Cleveland Cavaliers are eager to defend their NBA title, but the reigning champions need to keep on raising their form if they are to give fans yet another reason for celebration.