The Cavaliers took care of business against the visiting Hornets on Wednesday, notching a 114-103 win. There wasn’t much remarkable about this game, but it was a nice bounce-back effort for the Cavs after the Pistons took it to them Monday.
After an evenly matched first quarter, the game was always firmly in Cleveland’s grasp. But I jotted down a few thoughts to ease the painstaking boredom of a ho-hum February win. Check them out below:
1. It seems much has been made lately of the Kevin Love/Kyrie Irving on-court dynamic. Some have suggested that Love just doesn’t “look” as comfortable when he’s on the floor with Irving.
2. There are a number of smart, analytically-driven folks who follow these Cavs that, I think, can provide pretty clear evidence that the Cavs are a formidable bunch when Love and Irving share the court. So I don’t know what stock to put in this so-called eye test that Love supposedly fails when Kyrie plays with him.
3. That said, Wednesday I paid close attention to Love and Irving. What I saw was Love simply have an off-night. He took 11 shots in 26 minutes and just missed seven of them. They were good shots, he just missed. By comparison, LeBron James took 13 shots in 30 minutes, and Kyrie took 17 in 32 minutes.
4. So Love was getting looks and not converting. It really had nothing to do with Kyrie. What was actually more alarming about Love was the meager two rebounds he grabbed. Who do we want to blame for that?
5. For Kyrie’s part, he was efficient on the offensive end. On top of his economical 23 points, he dished out five assists and managed to haul in six rebounds. That said, if the Cavs are going to compete deep into the playoffs -- and especially in the Finals -- they are really going to need Kyrie to start knocking down 3-pointers at a better clip. His long-range shot is still pretty spotty.
6. Speaking of threes, welcome to Cleveland, Channing Frye. Raining in 4 of 8 from deep, Frye showed what a nice weapon he can be off the bench.
7. At first glance, it sure seemed like Charlotte’s guards, Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker, were able to get deep into the paint at will. Cleveland’s perimeter defense wasn’t too hot. It’s not all that consequential in games like this, but -- and I know this is a broken record -- the Cavs aren’t measuring success with February wins over the Hornets. Against the teams with elite guards, the on-ball defender simply has to do a better job of containment.
8. Put another way, Kyrie and Matthew Dellavedova both appeared to be stuck in cement on more than a few occasions at the defensive end.
9. Hornets guard Courtney Lee wasn’t spectacular, posting eight points, five rebounds and two assists. But at one point watching him play, I thought, “I would rather have this guy (Lee) than Iman Shumpert.”
10. I don’t know, maybe the analytics suggest otherwise. But the larger point -- that Shumpert has been a disappointment this year -- remains. Yes, he’s been injured. No, I didn’t expect a quantum leap this season. But he seems to have regressed this year, and it’s largely gone unnoticed because the spotlight shines so bright on the Big Three and the head coach.
11. A final thought: No reason for the Cavs to take this victory for granted, but it’s a footnote to the season at best. Nothing against the Hornets -- they play hard and had won five straight entering Wednesday. But for the Cavs, this was just another day at the office.