Amico: Nine quick dribbles on the Cavs
A few random dribbles on the defending NBA champions:
1. The Cavs have been rocking and rolling, and now they are resting -- as they don't play again until Wednesday. That's the eve of Thanksgiving, a home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.
2. Entering Sunday, the Cavs (10-2) sported the best overall record in the East. They were third in the entire league, but only because the Los Angeles Clippers (12-2) and Golden State Warriors (11-2) had played more often.
3. Records, schmecords, though. As you know, the Warriors went 73-9 last season. And the Cavs went 57-25. And everyone said the Cavs "can't play like that and beat the Warriors." And guess what happened in the end?
4. That's not to say the regular-season is entirely meaningless. When you're a loaded team like the Cavs, a team with LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and much more … well, it's important to keep developing good habits, championship habits. It's important to fight off complacency and show everyone else you're serious about a repeat.
5. Mostly, it's a time for the Cavs to enjoy their first full season under coach Tyronn Lue. Players don't always admire, respect and relish their coach. But the Cavs really do and it's really evident. That puts them in the same company with other top teams such as the Warriors (Steve Kerr), Clippers (Doc Rivers) and San Antonio Spurts (Gregg Popovich).
6. Yes, the Spurs love Pop. And yes, he's every bit of a wise guy with them as he is with the media.
7. I listened to a podcast of a coaching clinic Popovich conducted overseas. He told a story of how he dealt with retired star Tim Duncan. "When he wasn't performing, I'd just state the obvious," Popovich said. "I'd call a timeout, he'd walk to the bench, and I'd look at him and say, 'You gonna get any rebounds today? Or no? It's up to you.' Tim usually responded best when I handled it that way."
8. Anyway, back to the Cavs. They are averaging 108.6 points, which is fifth in the NBA. They are fourth in the league in rebounding at 46.3 boards per game. They are allowing 101.6 points per game, 12th in the league. Lue would like the Cavs to at least be in the top 10 defensively.
9. Irving leads the team in scoring at 24.0 points. Will he be the first player other than LeBron to lead a LeBron team in that category? I predict yes. James is at 23.2 points and a team-high nine assists. Love is at 20.3 points and a team-high 11.0 rebounds. A Big Three they truly are.