Cavs Notes: Limiting Harden, closing out games

Photo By Spencer Davies

Notes from Cavaliers practice on Monday, October 31

 

LeBron James named NBA Eastern Conference Player of the Week

With the first week of NBA basketball in the books, the 4-time MVP earned his 54th career ECF POW award. It’s the 35th honor he’s received as a member of the Cavaliers and the most in the history of the league.

In the team’s first three games, James averaged 21 points, 10 assists and 8.3 rebounds on 50 percent from the field.

 

Tightening up defensively

For the most part through three games, the Cavs have locked up their opponents pretty well.

Early on in the season, the team ranks second in opponent field goal percentage (40.2) and fifth in opponent points per game (92.7).

However, the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game against the Magic wasn’t reflective of those numbers, as Cleveland gave up 37 points in the final period.

LeBron knows that the performance was not indicative of the Cavs’ true defensive prowess, and they’ll get better as the year progresses.

Head coach Tyronn Lue believes that a fatigued group and a cold quarter shooting played a part in the letdown.

“We let missed shots dictate our defense in the fourth quarter,” he said.

 

Closing out games

Speaking of that fourth quarter, Saturday was the second straight game where Cleveland had a lead after three quarters and allowed the opponent to battle back.

The reasoning behind it? Specifically against the Magic, coach Lue says guys were simply tired.

Lue accepted responsibility of overusing his guys in the first back-to-back of the season.

“That’s on me,” he said.

As far as LeBron’s take on the situation, he says if it happens, the Cavs just have to find a way to win–and they’ve done that.

“We’re right where we want to be at this pace,” James said.

 

Containing and limiting James Harden under Mike D’Antoni’s new-look Rockets

It’s a new season and a brand new system for Houston under the offensive-minded D’Antoni.

With a weapon like Harden at his disposal in a new role as a point guard, it’ll be a tall task to hold him in check.

Kyrie Irving will be matched up with him, so what does he see as the best course of action defensively?

“Showing him bodies,” Irving said.

LeBron believes keying in on Harden will be the Cavs’ first priority defensively, but not to forget the guys he’ll be distributing to.

Lue says his guys have to make sure they don’t let Harden have easy baskets, but also to not foul Harden on his drives to the hole.

“He’s a tough player,” Lue said.

 

Note: The Cavaliers host the Rockets on Tuesday night at 6 p.m. Owner Dan Gilbert moved the game up due to World Series Game 6 being right next door.