“The Top 8” is an ongoing weekly column focused on the NBA… And more importantly my favorite NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers! For any and all installments, click here.
The Cavs ended Week Three with a heartbreaking loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. People whose jaws dropped and heads shook actually watching the game probably blame an errant ref whistle; but those of us looking at the box score just saw the Cavs drop it by three points in double overtime.
Our heroes then opened up Week Four with a swing at another midwest team: The Detroit Pistons.
Game Eleven: Cavs at Pistons 11/17/2015
There was once a stretch where the mighty Pistons were locks for the Eastern Conference Finals, and back in 2007, the Cavs had to get by them for LBJ to make that first NBA Finals appearance, himself.
Times have changed, though, and the Pistons are barely above .500.
HOWEVER — and this is a big “however” — The Pistons have got Andre Drummond.
ESPN Headline: Pistons rally for 104-99 win over Cavs despite James’ 30
This headline doesn’t begin to describe the game. Thirty points… Whatever! LBJ wasn’t even the best Cav. The real headline here should have been either been celebrating Andre Drummond’s monster line (25 points, 18 rebounds) or pointing out how the Cavs were routed 18-29 in the fourth quarter.
Every time I see an Andre Drummond box score I get a little angry. Drummond is not just hands-down the best Center in the NBA (DeAndre Jordan plays Center in the NBA), but he was hands down the best rookie his rookie year (Anthony Davis was Rookie of the Year that year)… And OF COURSE the Cavs could have had him.
Instead… We took Dion Waiters 🙁
Who drafts a rando Shooting Guard fourth? 🙁
Drummond played better than any two Cavs combined this game, and very nearly as well as the top three Cavs put together, as you can see:
Outcome: Pistons by 5
Game Twelve: Bucks at Cavaliers 11/19/2015
ESPN Headline: James, Love lead Cavaliers past Bucks, 115-100
If there is such a thing as a must-win game for a single regular-season game a dozen games in (there isn’t)… This would be it. Losing this game would put the Cavs on a three-game slide, with two losses to the Bucks.
Luckily, they stomped ’em.
It is in fact the case that James and Love led the Cavs (more or less equally), but the Greek Freak was the best player in a losing effort.
Outcome: Cavs by 15
Separately: Really nice to see Andy crack a Top 8 🙂
Game Thirteen: Hawks at Cavs 11/21/2015
ESPN Headline: Love, James lead Cavaliers past Hawks, 109-97
Better would be “James, Love, and Thompson lead Cavaliers past Hawks, 109-97″
TT missed a double-double by one point, but LBJ and KLove both notched ’em in this one.
Outcome: Cavs by 12
More gratifying even than the victory was that it was a big win against an excellent opponent; Atlanta was Cleveland’s dance partner in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals.
Side note: Great to see Thabo playing well after his unfortunate off-court injury. I said during the playoffs last year that Thabo was Atlanta’s best player, and without him, they did not have a reliable man defender for LeBron James.
2-1 is a full-on okay week. The Cavs remain at the head of the Eastern Conference at 10-3; not one of these regular seasons games means that much, individually as the Cavs are almost certainly a lock for the playoffs.
Sure fun to watch, though.
Can’t wait for Kyrie and Shump to come back (and now Mo and Mozgov) :/