First, here is some context for what I’m about to say: I’m a teacher. I enjoy telling my students stories. Well, sometimes when I digress from a lesson at school and my students are sick of listening to my stories, they ask “What’s next?” When that happens, I understand that what they mean is “Get on with it,” but that they are being polite.
Tonight, the Cavaliers asked the rest of the NBA “What’s next?”
What went well
The Cavaliers arrived at the TD Garden and immediately got to work. They wasted no time jumping out to a huge lead, leading by as many as 21 points in the first quarter. Kevin Love got going early, scoring the Cavs’ first 8 points. In all, the Cavaliers’ Big Three was dominant and efficient. Love finished the game with 15 points and 11 rebounds and a +/- of +43 in just 28 minutes of game play. LeBron James finished with 35 points on a super-efficient 13-for-18 shooting, while Kyrie Irving finished with 24 points on 9-for-15 shooting.
Each member of the Big Three, particularly Love, is playing as well as they have all season. Love has never looked as comfortable as he has over the course of the past few playoff games. Love is scoring from the outside off of pick-and-pop opportunities and from the inside off of pump fakes and drives to the hoop and by catching the ball in the post. Love will be a major key if the Cavaliers hope to repeat as champions. If he continues to create a matchup problem, his defensive inefficiencies (which haven’t been as glaring as of late) will be less of an issue.
In addition to the Big Three, bench players picked up the slack for the Cavaliers, as well. Shaking an illness that had plagued him since Game 3, Deron Williams looked like his younger self, scoring 14 points on 5-for-6 shooting in just 17 minutes. Kyle Korver also added 7 points off the bench, as well.
The Cavaliers are really good and how they played in the second half of Game 3 and much of the first half of Game 4 was somewhat of an anomaly. However, their lackluster performance was an indication of what can happen if the Cavs fail to keep their focus. It’s hard to imagine that the Cavaliers will lose their focus in the Finals, however.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals tips off in Oakland next Thursday. More to come between now and then on Burning River Basketball.