Cleveland Cavaliers (28-10) 86
Portland Trail Blazers (18-23) 102
Leading up to Wednesday night’s game in Portland, there were plenty of travel issues that involved both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Trail Blazers due to the amount of snow in the upper northwest portion of the country. So much, in fact, that they had more snow on the ground at the time of Thursday night’s game between the two teams than they usually have the entire winter.
With the Cavs having to sit on a plane for much longer than expected and Portland having to stay the night in a Seattle hotel, both teams had an unusual day leading up to the matchup.
While the Trail Blazers looked well rested and like they had slept in their own beds (even though they didn’t), the wine and gold looked like the complete opposite. Whether it was due in part to the game being the second night of a back-to-back, the fact that it was their fourth game of a six-game roadtrip (five of which are on the west coast), or if sitting in a plane got the best of them, the Cavs didn’t come to play Wednesday night and it showed.
Lets take a closer look at the final box score:
34.1 and 30 – For the second straight game, the Cavs struggled being able to shoot from the floor. Whether it’s due to trying to get newly acquired sharpshooter Kyle Korver more involved in the game, trying out new rotations, or just that the team is cold from the floor, much like the temperature, the wine and gold need to find their shot. In Portland Wednesday night, the Cavaliers shot just 34.1 percent from the floor and 30 percent from beyond the arc, both of which were below season average. Unless you’re a shutdown defense, shooting that poorly will result in a big ole L the majority of the time.
20 – So far this season, the Cavs’ Big Three — LeBron James, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving — have all averaged north of 20 points per game. In Wednesday’s loss against the Trail Blazers, James was the only player to score at least 20 points, scoring 20 right on the nose, actually. Love (17) and Irving (11) both struggled from the floor for the second-consecutive night. This was in large part due to Irving and Love missing easy shots, but someone else must be able to step up in their place.
For the Cavs to win, especially down the stretch and against much better opponents, at least two members of the Big Three will have to score at least 20 points, especially when the team is struggling on offense the way they are right now.
30, 28, and 31 – While head coach Tyronn Lue decided not to rest any of his players on the latter half of a back-to-back, the Big Three played much less than they usually do on a night-to-night basis. James (30 minutes), Love (28), and Irving (31) were able to rest their legs for longer stretches through Wednes This was most likely partially due to the fact that Portland had a big lead for much of the game, but being able to somewhat rest your best players or at least play them much less than usual is definitely a plus, no matter who wins the game.
As the season goes on, the Cavs must learn how to play without either one, two, or all three on the court. Luckily for them, they still have half of a regular season to figure out how to put the ball in the basket when they can’t count on James, Love, or Irving to do so.
14-for-43 – When your three best players combine to shoot just 14-of-43 (32.6 percent) from the floor, you’re not going to win many games. It seems obvious at this point that either the west coast trip, tired legs, or the weather seem to have gotten the best of the wine and gold on this west coast trip. All three are good enough players to get out of this slump and they are good enough players that they will snap out of this cold streak at some point very soon. It just stinks that all three have gone cold at te
14-to-15 – The Cavs finished with more turnovers (15) than assists (14) in the game. No matter what the circumstance, that is inexcusable for team with hopes of winning back-to-back titles this year. Whether it’s Irving, James, or whoever else handling the ball, Cleveland must have more assists than turnovers. Although 14 assists is low, many wouldn’t care as long as the team wins and they have less turnovers. For those of you comparing, Portland had 29 assists and just nine turnovers.
0-for-3 – I know, it’s only been two games and Kyle Korver is still trying to get in some sort of rhythm and chemistry with the rest of the Cavaliers, but his shots were ugly tonight. He had a couple wide-open looks from long distance that should almost be automatic makes that missed, one of which was almost an air ball. Luckily, he and the Cavs have until April to figure out how to use him offensively and for him to get familiar with his new teammates.
-1 – He may have scored just two ponts on 1-of-5 shooting, but DeAndre Liggin’s minus-1 was the best on the court of players who played significant minutes. He may not be much of a shooter, but Liggins knows how to play stifling defense. Whether it’s the opposing team’s point guard, shooting guard, or even small forward at times, he can lockdown that specific player. He may not score, but this type of defense is the sole reason why Liggins could be on the court when it matters most, especially when the Cavs need to shutdown their opponent.