Do not look now, but the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing lights-out basketball these days. Seven playoff games equals seven Cleveland Cavaliers’ wins, and a loss does not seem to be coming anytime soon.
The Cavaliers held a commanding 3-0 lead over the Atlanta Hawks going into Game 4 today. The Cavaliers were seeking a sweep and got it.
Many things happened for the Cleveland Cavaliers during this playoff run. The Cavs have even broken a record for the three-point field goals made (courtesy of Bleacher Report) with 25. When people hear that an NBA team broke a record for most three-pointers in a game, they immediately think the Golden State Warriors, not the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs looks like a team on a mission in the NBA Playoffs thus far. Quietly, the question that begs being asked is, who can stop the Cleveland Cavaliers? So far, not the Detroit Pistons and not the Atlanta Hawks.
LeBron James must have pressed the right buttons when he was going on his Twitter rants.
His subtweeting, as described by Deadspin as veiled words for his teammates, became the talk of the NBA a couple of months ago. Everyone believed that James was calling out players for their lack of effort and willingness to do the necessary things to contend for an NBA title.
LeBron James has appeared in the NBA Finals six times, winning two NBA Championships, both with the Miami Heat. He knows the work that has to be done to hoist another trophy. Tweeting about the topics the he touched on could have been divisive. Possibly even disrupting the team chemistry built over the past couple of weeks. Instead, his subtweeting might be one of the reasons why the Cavaliers have begun to roll in the NBA Playoffs.
Most people felt that the Cavaliers would have a few struggling moments against the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the playoffs. That was not the case, as the Cavs swept them in four games. The Pistons were expected to at least win a game over the Cavaliers.
Cavaliers are 1st team in NBA history (regular season or playoffs) w/ at least 20 3-pointers in consecutive games. pic.twitter.com/kPPIGsLoC5— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) May 7, 2016
In the series over the Hawks, Cleveland has had an easier time. Much of that can be credited to the Cavaliers’ torrid shooting beyond the arc. Cleveland is making over 46 percent of their three-pointers in the NBA Playoffs. Their scoring average of 108.9 points per game is tops among playoff teams.
Those are statistics fans would be accustomed to the Warriors, or the San Antonio Spurs having. When did the Cavaliers become an offensive juggernaut? One should look at the trade deadline acquisition of stretch-four Channing Frye.
It took Channing Frye a little while to get comfortable with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now that Frye is acclimated with the team, you can see the subtle differences. Those differences do not usually land in the box scores. Although, Channing Frye did average 7.5 points and 3.6 rebounds in the regular season.
In the postseason, Frye is actually scoring nearly a point more per game with an 8.3 average, including a playoff-high of 27 points in Game 3. That is good for fifth on the Cavaliers.
Frye’s impact on the Cleveland Cavaliers is with allowing the team to play with a certain pace, a flowing offense. He is doing some of the dirty work, such as setting screens, working himself free for three-point shots in the corner and overall spacing. Being a front court player who can spread the floor, creates opportunities for any player, LeBron James or Kyrie Irving, in particular, to get layups in the paint. If an easy shot is not immediately available, the ball is passed to a shooter. Cleveland is second in the postseason in assists, averaging 24 per contest. Channing Frye’s presence allows this to happen.
As good as the offense has clicked, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense has done a great job of taking advantage of opponent’s miscues. In the playoffs, the Cavaliers are limiting teams to 77.6 shots a game.
The one flaw that the Cavaliers have is the inability to force turnovers. If they keep scoring more than 108 points, though, that will not matter.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have now advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. It is the opposition the Cavaliers face when they will see somewhat of a challenge. It is all just a precursor until the NBA Finals, when the real fun begins.
So far, so good for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
[Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]