Tag Archives: Kyrie Irving

Kevin Love is breaking out of his Cleveland funk


Love has been excellent and had a real statement performance against the Portland Trail Blazers. Source: Sports Illustrated

Often seen as the third wheel, the one that could be discarded if the cart started rocking, Kevin Love never quite hit his stride in his first two years with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Unable to replicate the form he showed in Minnesota with the Timberwolves and the definitive option C behind LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, many thought that the power forward would always stay as the odd man out.

However, the first third of the 2016/17 NBA season says different as Love has broken out as a real breakout option on any given night.

The first glaringly obvious difference is the points he’s putting up on every night he’s on the field. So far this season, the former UCLA man has averaged 22.3 points, up a huge six points per game compared to his averages in the first two seasons at The Q.

That added firepower in his game was emphatically emphasised in his first quarter outpouring against the Portland Trail Blazers. Love notched 34 points, the most ever in the opening portion of a basketball and only second to Klay Thompson’s 37 points in a quarter from last year.

He shot 11-from-14, outscoring the entire Blazers team and hit eight of his 10 three-point attempts. Six of those were off assists from James and all but one of the shots he hit were from assists either from James, Irving or Iman Shumpert.

Cleveland Cavaliers

These three finally feel like a real “Big Three”, even after a championship last season. Source: Sports World Report

And it wasn’t all from one spot either, with only two of the threes coming from almost an identical place on the field. Two were from the right baseline, one from the opposite side, two on either wing and one from the top of the key, while only one score came from in the paint.

Love was also a perfect four-for-four from the free throw line, just to add one last superlative to a superb performance. It displayed his ability to shoot from anywhere behind the three-point line, which is rare for a player of his size to hit with such consistency but also highlighted the fact in how Tyronn Lue is trying to get him more involved with the offence this season.

Like previously mentioned, all but one of his shots came off assists, which just tells you a little bit about the Cavaliers offensive movement in the new season. They are moving the ball more, doing that extra pass to find the open man more often than not, which is only to Love’s benefit.

The fact that it was James, who is an excellent passer in his own right, dishing the dimes only serves to highlight how this team aren’t afraid to pass the goalscoring burden onto another teammate. The King saw how hot Love was and when someone is in that kind of mood, keep feeding the basketball until they find a way to stop him.

The Blazers did to some degree afterwards but the damage was already done.


Maybe the UCLA man got some tips on how to rise from the dead from this man? Source: Sky Sports

His field goal percentage is up to .468 even off more shots, his three-point percentage has lifted from .360 to .412 and he is posting a career-best FT percentage. All of those mean that Cleveland have another great scoring option in the prime of his career, which can only benefit an already superstar team.

However, it’s not just in scoring where Love has evolved with the Cavaliers, his entire game has benefitted from being more involved. He’s averaging 10.7 rebounds per game, the first time he’s averaged double figures since the 2012/13 season, which includes more offensive rebounds than his last two years and he’s also posting a career-high in steals with 1.1 per game.

Maybe it’s a bit of great coaching, Lue has this team playing possibly better basketball than their championship campaign last season and getting Love more involved seems like a no brainer. It makes such a difference to his game overall, with more confidence surging through his veins and that’s only a benefit to the Cavaliers.

It’ll also simmer down any silly trade talk that we’ve had over the last few years. Much like Chris Bosh in that superstar Miami Heat team, the third man is sometimes forgotten but can become someone extra they can rely on when the chips are down.

With another option when times get tough, especially come playoff time, the Cavs can make a real charge at the championship and they have evolved along with their rivals. If the star-power of the Golden State Warriors seems too much for James or Irving on any night, they now have one more trusted option in their arsenal.

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NBA Trade Deadline: Who improved and who disappointed?

After the dust settles from the All-Star Weekend, all the attention turns to the trade deadline and as always, there were plenty of interesting moves made. So who came out smelling of roses and who look to have shot themselves in the foot? Here’s a quick look at three teams who improved and three that disappointed.



Detroit Pistons

Drummond and Jackson are good players who now have more talent around them.  Source: USA Today

Drummond and Jackson are good players who now have more talent around them. Source: USA Today

There’s always one team that likes to surprise us a little at the trade deadline and this year it was Stan van Gundy’s Detroit Pistons. They might just be floating outside the playoffs but with a solid core and some really valuable additions, they look like they could pull ahead in that tight pack in the Eastern Conference.

Tobias Harris is only 23 and can still get better, even though he’s an asset with his versatility already. They then get Donatas Montiejunas, who could still develop into a really good power forward, and Marcus Thornton, who adds to their weak bench.

When they give up a first-round pick and two role players for that much coming in, it’s nothing more than a win. Not only have they got enough to contend for a playoff place this season, they may have set up enough for a strong future too.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Some wil miss the sight of Varejao but the Cavs upgraded with Channing Frye.  Source: The Express

Some wil miss the sight of Varejao but the Cavs upgraded with Channing Frye. Source: The Express

While the reigning Eastern Conference champions gave up a popular player in Anderson Varejao and a conditional first-round pick, they must feel that they’ve added a solid piece in Channing Frye from the Orlando Magic.

There were a few clubs chasing the 32-year-old, including the Los Angeles Clippers, who can work well as a stretch four in the NBA. Some feel that he’s too similar to Kevin Love but that’s exactly why he’s been brought in, he can help that consistenty of emulating Love from off the bench.

With players like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving desperate for more floor room, Frye will give them that. It also takes away some of the log-jam happening under the rim with Tristan Thompson as they look to make a team that can take on the Golden State Warriors in the Finals. Or at least, they hope it will.

Los Angeles Clippers

Green fills a need and is a great pickup for the price.  Source: Sports Illustrated

Green fills a need and is a great pickup for the price. Source: Sports Illustrated

When initial reports had the Clippers flipping Lance Stephenson, C.J Wilcox and a first-round selection for Channing Frye, it seemed like a pretty decent deal. However, when it was announced that they were getting Jeff Green for the first and last of that offer, it has to be seen as a real coup.

Green is a really solid player who could even start at the three for LA, a position of need for the last few years, as well as being able to play at the four when the team goes small ball. He already has a relationship with coach Doc Rivers and to give up a player who contributed very little seems like a bargain.

Adding to that, the pick is a 2019 selection that could even become a 2021 pick, so they could be giving up very little for some real solid production. Especially with Blake Griffin out for a few more weeks yet, Green could be a really valuable addition to compete with the other strong teams out in the West.



Utah Jazz

Mack? Really? Why?  Source: saltcityhoops.com

Mack? Really? Why? Source: saltcityhoops.com

The Jazz have a genuine shot of making the playoffs this year but needed a point guard to make more of a contribution. with Dante Exum likely out for the season, they needed a playmaker to help facilitate the likes of Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert.

So they decided to trade for the Atlanta Hawk’s third guard Shelvin Mack. A player who’s statistically worse that their current two fit guards, Trey Burke and Raul Neto, in almost every area. What an incredible move.

Is he good enough to even play? If not, then why did they need to make this move? He may surprise us, he may fall flat on his face. In the end, it looks like the Jazz couldn’t decide whether to stick or twist so just did a twirl for us at the deadline.

Atlanta Hawks

Hinrich has a lot of miles on the clock and has rapidly declined over the past season or so.  Source: Bleacher Report

Hinrich has a lot of miles on the clock and has rapidly declined over the past season or so. Source: Bleacher Report

So as we’ve already mentioned, the Hawks moved on their third guard, which was a decent move. They also decided to keep the likes of Jeff Teague and Al Horford, so their current core remains in tact until at least the summer.

Was it the wisest move to keep Horford, who could go for free in the summer? It remains to be seen, especially if they couldn’t find a good offer before the deadline. However, they decided to make a late move for Bulls guard Kirk Hinrich, to replace the departed Mack.

Why? We may never know. They have two really solid guards, but they essentially swapped Mack for Hinrich while also giving up Justin Holiday, who had fallen out of the rotation anyway. This can only be to clear some space and maybe give the team some extra leadership they didn’t really need anyway.

Memphis Grizzlies

Even Courtney Lee was surprised to be traded.  Source: rantsports.com

Even Courtney Lee was surprised to be traded. Source: rantsports.com

What a strange deadline from the Grizzlies, who look to have thrown their hands up in the air and hope they can rebuild again around an ageing Marc Gasol. That seems even stranger when they are sat with the fifth seed in the Western Conference.

We’ve already mentioned the Green trade, which brings in a player that will either be waived instantly or will be a complete gamble in Lance Stephenson. They also gave up Courtney Lee to the Charlotte Hornets for mainly cap space, although P.J Hariston has shown flashes of quality.

Both were third and fourth in three-point shooting on a bad three-point shooting team. Will these moves help keep Mike Conley around in the summer? He may need more than a load of second-round picks to convince him to stay in Tennessee.

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Iguodala reminding us that defence is king

These three helped them in the regular season, but Iguodala's defence helped them win it all.  Source: resetsanfrancisco.org

These three helped them in the regular season, but Iguodala’s defence helped them win it all.
Source: resetsanfrancisco.org

Defence wins championships. It’s a sentence that’s repeated in American Football regularly and it’s shown to be the case on almost every occasion. That also translates well to the NBA and despite the Golden State Warriors’ shoot-happy offence, it’s their defence that won them the Larry O’Brien trophy.

The Warriors offensive prowess is very hard to ignore and took centre stage throughout the entire regular season. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Splash Brothers as they are affectionately known, are deadly from three-point range and can top 40 points on any night if given the chance.

Curry wasn’t just voted as the league’s MVP simply because he’s dead-eye from beyond the arc, he has probably the best handle of the basketball in the NBA and create assists that boggle the mind even whilst watching replays. He’s a true superstar, adding Thompson and the vastly improved Draymond Green to that mix, the Warriors are a potent threat.

However, they stalled against a under-powered Cleveland Cavaliers who lost two of their best three players. Granted, they still possessed the best player in the world but they also missed another key contributor in Anderson Varejao.

Iggy sacrificed his starting role for the better of the team but that didn't stop him from being a key component.  Source: pac12.com

Iggy sacrificed his starting role for the better of the team but that didn’t stop him from being a key component. Source: pac12.com

Many saw the Finals as a cake-walk as soon as Kyrie Irving limped out of Game 1 but LeBron James went up another gear. Role players like Matthew Dellavadova and Timofey Mosgov gave everything and it surprised the Warrior, who lost Game 2 at home and then tumbled 2-1 behind. It was a riddle that Golden State were struggling to overcome.

Then, Steve Kerr made a bold move. Out came Andrew Bogut from the starting line-up, in slotted Andre Iguodala to stop the freight train that was becoming LeBron James. It would have old-school fans turning in their graves, a smaller line-up would have been scariligious to some but oddly enough, it absolutely worked.

It didn’t completely stop LeBron, he still racked up plenty of points but more often than not, Iguodala made him think for a moment longer than before. It cause Cavs coach David Blatt to try and find an answer, like removing Mosgov almost entirely from Game 5 and it failed.

LeBron was special but not enough and was very gracious in defeat.  Source: Sky Sports

LeBron was special but not enough and was very gracious in defeat. Source: Sky Sports

Not only that, Iggy brought a bit of offence to a team that was stagnating and breaking them out of that funk got them the win. Daring to change something, especially to have more of a focus on defence, was absolutely vital and it was even evident in last year’s Finals when Kawai Leonard won the Finals MVP by stopping LeBron and producing on the other end.

There’s certainly a case that had the Cavaliers been fully fit, this would have been a different series. They could have even combated the Warriors small line-up with a huge line-up of LeBron, Kevin Love, Tristain Thompson, Varejao and Mosgov, which would have been an insane match-up.

However, the realisation that defence is key is clear in the NBA once again and a lot of the credit should go to Coach Kerr. No matter how dangerous the Warriors are on offence, it’s their defence that pulled them through the mire and got them their championship.

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