1 – 3. LeBron James. Good night.
1. Okay so I’m only like half playing here. But for real, Bron did that s**t. And totally realizing that we are a little over two weeks into the season I have no problems calling this a statement game for the Cavs. Look, I know that this is a team that is built for April – June but with so much talk around their off-season, teams emerging in the East (especially Washington in the wake of the Hayward injury) and LeBron’s very own basketball mortality it makes sense that the seemingly struggling 3-5 defending Eastern Conference champs would’ve had this game circled. Even if it was in pencil it was circled.
Which brings me to LeBron’s performance which was fit for a king (too much? Okay). Bron eviscerated the Wizards for 57 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists with 3 steals and 2 blocks. Holy crap y’all. His 23 made field goals accounted for half of the Cavs’ makes and doing so at a 67% clip. James led Cleveland in all 5 major statistical categories as he set the tone early and by the beginning of the fourth quarter (in which he 17) it was clear that this game was his. Sure there were other humans inhabiting the court with him but honestly they were just more or less, there. And as non-egalitarian as that sounds it’s a helluva sight to behold. This is a league with no shortage of talent and even superstars but there are very few guys that can put such a personal stamp on game. Love him or hate him James is one of those guys and his signature was all over this one.
2. In addition to the King James takeover the rest of the Cavs (or in this case I’ll revert back to an old nickname The LeBronnaires) did a pretty bang up job making sure Bron could have the effect he did. The Cavs 56% from the field and 44% from deep which is no small feat considering how much this group has struggled thus far. Derrick Rose looked great here dropping in 20 points on 50% shooting and using his trademark speed and strength to keep an exhausted and overworked Wiz backcourt on their heels. Jae Crowder and Kevin Love continue to be understated positives for the Cavs especially given the loss of Tristan “Trash Gawd” Thompson-Kardashian. Crowder gave a tough 17 and 7 with a pair of steals while Love put up an 11 and 8 in a performance of which the boxscore does little service.
This is extended to a pair of their reserves. Jeff Green, who has long been a popular object of derision (kinda deserved but still) has been nothing less than solid for the Cavs. In 25 minutes his 7-2-5 line pales in comparison to his presence in essentailly running those second units and being complementary in starter heavy lineups. Korver scored 8 in 20 minutes and copped a pair of steals. Korver’s approach to the game is why he will work until he’s 60 if he wants. He’s patient, he plays his role and he rarely acts out of character. It’s not the sexiest skill set but when you’re a team fighting to stay atop of the conference and win another title you’ll need a guy with this.
3. Sure this will serve as no consolation but Washington did not play a bad game. It wasn’t great by any means and good is in the eye of the beholder. But the Wiz (as many have before and will after them) ran into a highly motivated LeBron and Cavs squad. Bradley Beal shined as he went for 36 points including 11 of 13 from the charity stripe. Beal was the one to answer the call when Bron started rolling but it just wasn’t enough. John Wall tossed an impressive 15 dimes but couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. He sputtered to 13 points on 4 of 13 shooting and an even worse 5 of 12 from the foul line. There are very few instances that you can pinpoint blame for a loss but Wall really came up flat scoring tonight.
However, in his (relative) absence Kelly Oubre Jr. was excellent. KOJ’s 21 points including 5 of 7 from three was instrumental in keeping the Cavs’ defense honest as did Otto “$106 Million Man” Porter with his 15 points on 60% shooting. Mike Scott was also solid in a 12 point showing. The Wizards shot 53% as a team. NOT BAD AT ALL. But not nearly good enough to to offset a 57 point Bron night and well the piss poor 67% from the free throw line. It’s really hard to take much out of these early season games but at the very least we can say we were treated to a good performance and a GREAT performance. But while we have the luxury of simply watching and enjoying it is up to the Wizards to extract how to get better from this. I don’t envy them.