Kyrie: Little things mean a lot for Cavs
When you win a championship, you spend a great deal of time the next season trying to prove it was no fluke.
That's not the Cavaliers' primary concern, but hey, who doesn't love to drill the occasional opponent?
Especially when that opponent is a young, up-and-coming bunch like the Detroit Pistons? Or especially when that opponent is the same bunch you swept in the first round of the playoffs?
The Cavs haven't played since Friday and don't play again until Wednesday. LeBron James called it the longest non-All-Star break of his career. (He added that, then again, he doesn't actually get an All-Star break because he's always an All-Star.)
Anyway, the Cavs lit up the Pistons in the previous game. It wasn't even close. The lead grew to 30 points. It was a basketball slaughter.
So, yeah, the Cavs sent a message. And they don't want it to end there.
The memo reads something like this: Hey, NBA, get ready. Because here we come. Again.
"Every game is like that for us, especially going forward," Kyrie Irving told FOX Sports Ohio. "We understand what we're trying to accomplish."
The Cavaliers' point guard is also in total agreement with James, the winner of two titles in Miami. James would like another in Cleveland. And another, and another, and on and on it goes.
But James has repeatedly cautioned against complacency. He has repeatedly insisted the Cavs can't succumb to it. He has demanded the Cavs don't take games, or even possessions, lightly.
It's working. The Cavs are 10-2. They are 10-1 with LeBron. They sport the best record in the Eastern Conference. And they don't view any of it as a major accomplishment.
Along with James, big reasons for all the early successes include improved play from Kevin Love, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert … all the usual suspects. The list includes Irving.
He leads the team in scoring (24.0 ppg). He finished the last game with 11 assists -- one shy of his career high. He seems to think both can continue.
"It's just playing with pace," he told FSO. "Getting into the lane, I draw so much attention. I know guys are ready to shoot."
So Irving and the Cavs are more confident, overall better and plan to keep a good thing going. They are out to prove last season was not some sort of stroke of luck.
Most everyone around the league and the fans already know it wasn't. But when you're coming off a title, sometimes it helps to create a perceived slight. Just to stay extra motivated.
Other than that, the Cavs basically want to do the little things that mean so much.
"Little things matter in the big picture," Irving said. "We want to come out and give good effort, consistently, on both ends of the floor."