Dribbles: Cavs moving, and Love staying
CLEVELAND – Random dribbles from the Cavaliers' 114-107 win over the visiting Timberwolves on Monday.
1. It wasn't the most awesome performance, but forgive the Cavs for maybe treating this game like a scrimmage. They needed a win, they needed the practice, and Andrew Wiggins and the Wolves always give the Cavs their very best. And the Cavs always come out on top, anyway.
2. It was also Tyronn Lue's first victory as an NBA coach. Sometimes, that's the hardest part. Especially when you consider Lue is trying to get the Cavs to play at a faster pace.
3. At times, it looked fantastic. At other times, it was understandably sloppy. The Cavs haven't had much of an opportunity to practice under Lue. As Kyrie Irving said afterward: "There's a lot going on. My mind is going a thousand mph right now."
4. Irving was the epitome of the spread-the-wealth and move-the-ball-quickly philosophy. Like the entire team, he played exceptionally well in spurts, compiling 17 points and a season-high nine rebounds. But he also finished just 7-of-18 shooting and committed four turnovers.
5. Meanwhile, LeBron James went for 25 points on a sizzling 11-of-15 from the floor. He also passed for nine assists. But again, the faster pace sometimes looked forced -- with James handing out five turnovers.
6. But this is just the start of a style the Cavs (31-12) hope to master by, oh, April. There is plenty of time to get it right. It helps if they can win a few games and give themselves some separation in the Eastern Conference in the process. On Monday, that's what they did.
7. Lue pointed out that pushing the tempo doesn't mean rushing shots or forcing passes. "We gotta play fast, but not make turnovers," he said.
8. In time, that should happen. And based on Monday's second experiment under Lue, it should be lots of fun when it does.
9. While a lot of Cavs seem to be trying to find their way in the new scheme, Matthew Dellavedova tends to play this way all the time. He was magnificent all around Monday -- scoring 18 points and passing for seven assists on Australia Day. "He backed up his day," James said of Delly.
10. Dellavedova on the tempo: "If we move the ball and move bodies ... everyone is going to enjoy playing this style."
11. And man, this sure seems to open up things for Tristan Thompson (19 points, 12 boards) near the basket. He got a few quick dunks and drew some fouls as a result of the whipped passes that came his way. Of course, Thompson also continued to chase every rebound like it was a brick of gold. His determination is perhaps the most underrated aspect of this team.
12. Kevin Love was active but finished with just 11 points and six rebounds. Lue admittedly is still trying to get the power forward going. Love also needs to get himself going by shooting the ball better from the perimeter. He was just 1-of-7 on 3-pointers.
13. Lue on Love: "I just want Kevin to get comfortable. I know he was comfortable in Minnesota playing on the elbows. That's kind of his niche. So we want to get him back to his comfort zone. I know it's been tough these last couple of games because we're trying to play with pace. Guys are getting tired, which kind of messes with the rotation. Kevin was great. He was fine."
14. Love has been the subject of lots of trade rumors in recent weeks -- and hey, what else is new? It seems like Love just can't get a break when it comes to having his name thrown about by the Internet rumormonger-types. But Cavs GM David Griffin shot it all down when he told ESPN: "We’ve never once put together an offer involving Kevin, nor have we taken a call on an offer for Kevin."
15. Good. The Cavs don't need any more Earth-shattering moves. Make what is here work. We all know it can. We saw it during the second half of last season, when they finished the regular season in a flurry. And if they get back to that level, yes, they can win a title. So let's wait and see. This is January, not May.
16. As for Wiggins, this was probably his worst game statistically against the Cavs. Perhaps it's because he didn't shoot every time he touched it. That's what he did in previous games vs. the Cavs -- clearly in some sort of act of revenge for their decision to trade him. This time, he looked more interested in playing a more complete game.
17. Also, Lue put defensive ace Iman Shumpert on Wiggins for much of the night. Not surprisingly, things were considerably more difficult for the Wolves' second-year swingman.
18. Wolves rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns (26 points, 11 rebounds) was once again brilliant. This young team will be really good if it ever decides to consistently make him the first option -- and quits settling for jumpers so much.
19. Anyway, back to the Cavs. They still have three games this week, including a back-to-back Friday (at Pistons) and Saturday (home vs. Spurs). Four games in six days at a faster pace? It's safe to say this will help the Cavs get in the type of condition their new coach seeks.