Dribbles: Scoring even breezier for LeBron, Cavs

All-Star forward LeBron James, at the very least, will finish out the season with the Cavaliers.

Random dribbles following the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 131-127 escape job of a road win over the Orlando Magic on Saturday.

1. If you like what you’ve seen of Isaiah Thomas in small doses, just wait until you get a load of the real guy.

2. As you probably know by now, Thomas has played in two games — and the Cavaliers won both. He has scored 36 points (19 against Orlando) in about 40 minutes. He is fun to watch and already fitting in. It appears that, yes, the Cavs received an All-Star in return for Kyrie Irving.

3. Granted, Thomas shot an airball with the outcome in the balance, but we can chalk that up to rust. Besides, Dwyane Wade saved the day with yet another winning play. In case you missed it, Wade plucked Thomas’ shot from the heavens and placed it in the hoop.

4. The Cavs didn’t sign Wade because he can do all the things he used to do. They signed him for his championship mindset, for his toughness, for his leadership and for his ability to deliver in the clutch. When healthy, Wade has displayed all of those things and more — finishing with 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and nine rebounds Saturday.

5. Anyway, back to Thomas. He was supposed to be done for the night, exiting about midway through the fourth quarter. The game appeared to belong to the Cavs. Then the Magic came charging back. So Cavs coach Tyronn Lue put Thomas back in with 40 seconds left.

6. Thomas to reporters on getting an extra almost-minute: ““I mean, I looked (at Lue), I think it was 40 seconds left, and I was like, ‘I can at least make some free throws.’ He looked at Steve (Spiro, the Cavaliers’ head athletic trainer) and Steve game him the OK, especially (for) that last 40 seconds.”

7. Thomas added, laughing, “I’m just glad D-Wade looked out for me with the airball.”

8. Of course, no one appears more excited about the addition of a third (or first or second) scorer than LeBron James and Kevin Love. They were both excellent — as James barely missed another triple-double with 33 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Love finished with 27 points and went 6-of-12 on 3-pointers.

9. I thought LeBron held on to the ball and dribbled too much toward the end, playing one-on-one and launching a couple ill-advised jumpers. But as a guy who’s used to carrying the team, he’s probably earned that right, no?

10. Besides, it was James who hit Thomas with the pass that led to … well, the airball at the end. But you could tell James wanted Thomas to have a chance to get the glory. Thomas missed, but my guess is everyone (especially James) was equally happy that glory went to Wade.

11. Still not sure what to make of J.R. Smith (10 points, but just four shots). If Kyle Korver doesn’t play well (he didn’t), the Cavs get virtually nothing from the perimeter in the backcourt. At some point, perhaps when Thomas, Derrick Rose and Iman Shumpert are totally healthy, Lue will have to put Smith on the bench. But with any luck for the Cavs, Smith will come around before then.

12. Meanwhile, the defense and the rim protection were fairly atrocious for long stretches. The Cavs (26-13) actually decided to defend a little in the third quarter, and that’s what won them the game. They seemed to lose interest after building a 23-point lead.

13. Without a doubt, the Cavs need a someone to defend the rim. That is not the strong suit of Tristan Thompson or Love. The Cavs do have plenty of interest in Los Angeles Clippers center DeAndre Jordan. It would likely mean moving Thompson. I’ll be writing in more detail about that later today.

14. For more on the game, check out Don McCormack’s excellent and thorough recap: IT flashes old magic in first start.

9 Comments on "Dribbles: Scoring even breezier for LeBron, Cavs"

  1. Sam, I’m of the opinion that if the Cavs are going to make a trade for DJ, they have to include Lou Williams as well, for TT, JR and the Brooklyn pick. The Cavs absolutely need a starting shooting guard who actually shoots the ball more than a handful of times a game.

    • That’s a good trade. While I’d hate to give up the Brooklyn pick … well, I’m starting to wonder how valuable it actually will be. It may be worth giving up if someone takes JR and TT. You’re right though. The Cavs need a shooting guard who SHOOTS! And if it means giving up the Nets pick, so be it. Thanks, Steve. … Sam

      • Steve has the right idea for this trade. The BKN pick is not going to be worth much, not with Spencer Dinwiddie leading the Nets to wins. Nets are not at the absolute bottom of the standings when you have the awful Lakers, Hawks and Mavs competing for inept supremacy. If you can dump JR and TT and get DAJ and Lou Will, it is a go! I have no faith in JR at all. Once he and TT got their big contracts, it was all over for them. They can coast their way to LA, where they will both be happy. JR gets his legalized weed and TT gets to co-star on Keeping Up…

      • Does anyone understand that Lou Williams plays no defense. Yes, he is a very good scorer, but is that what the Cavs really need?

        What that would equate to is even worse perimeter defense than before. Just look at the matchups with Boston’s back court, Toronto’s back court, and Golden State . If you want to throw in Houston’s backcourt, there you go…. Shot blocking is better but defending the three-point line and keeping the opposing player in front of you could be a nightmare.

        Clips would be dumb to not accept TT, shump, and Cavs first for DeAndre only….

        • Brad, JR isn’t playing much if any defense either mate. At least Lou Williams actually, you know, shoots the ball.

    • Robert Williams | January 8, 2018 at 2:56 am |

      are we forgetting the spacing problem that DJ presents? modern big men should be at least competent from 3. and while he’s improved to 60 percent from the FT line, he’s still a bit of a liability there. could still see some hack-a-Jordan. probably not likely to happen, but Marc Gasol would be a better a fit, albeit a bit redundant with K Love there.

  2. Sam, what about starting Cedi at SG? I like the potential chemistry of IT, Cedi, Lebron, Crowder, and Love, Bench bunch could have Rose/Smith, Wade, Korver, Green, and TT/Frye. I like his hustle, energy, and length on D. What say you?

  3. The Cavs should really consider trading Tristan Thompson for Nerlens Noel before DeAndre Jordan. I understand Nerlens Noel might be injury prone. But he’s one of the most elite defenders that we have in this game. Very underrated and very unappreciated. He can defend more positions then DeAndre Jordan. That should be a higher value to the Cavs! Plus, DeAndre Jordan is going to demand a pretty pricey contract next year. Which the Cavs truly don’t need. Especially when DeAndre Jordan isn’t getting any younger. Noel, should be a great bargain for now and the future. If the Cavs pull the trigger.

    Now for the Brooklyn first round draft pick. I would consider trading that pic and other pieces for these guys…

    – Taurean Prince
    – Jonathan Simmons
    – Evan Fournier

    • While my preference is Nerlens Noel also, DJ is the premier centre in the NBA at the moment. The problem for me is would Dallas take TT for the Brooklyn pick alone, I doubt they would. The other problem is the Brooklyn pick isn’t going to be as worth much as it could have been.

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