Cleat Geeks

Cavs Corner: Cavs Clinch Playoffs; Staying Consistent

image1The Cleveland Cavaliers have clinched the Central Division and are guaranteed a playoff spot in the 2016 NBA playoffs. Through the second week of March the Cavs have been looking very inconsistent on both ends of the floor from turning the ball over and missing easy shots, to dragging their feet and not rotating allowing open lanes and wide open shots. Within the past week, that all seems to have gone away and the Cavs seem to be in playoff mode.

A big factor in this turn around has been stepping up on the defensive end and ball movement. The Cavs have had a lot more energy on defense getting multiple stops by rotating fluently, playing good help defense, shutting down driving and passing lanes and by boxing out their man and grabbing rebounds. In turn, that energy carries over to the other end of the court and causes easy offense. A countless number of their defense stops have turned into fast break opportunities that usually end in an emphatic LeBron James dunk, or alley-oop.

This consistency and energy is not just about LeBron James’ play, though. All of the other starters have dialed in on their shots and the team as a whole is sharing the ball and making that extra pass when the fast break isn’t available and they have to set up an offense. Probably a part of head coach Tyronn Lue’s plan, the offense has been very fast paced and energized. Not as much isolation is being played anymore and everyone is constantly moving and setting screens. This style of play wears down the defense and eventually finds an open man with enough time on the shot clock for them to square up and set their feet for a good looking shot. The court awareness that this whole Cavaliers team shares as of late is amazing. Whether it is a pinpoint pass between defenders in the lane or realizing there is enough time on the shot clock for one more swing pass and shot for an Lebron dunkassist, these players are finding every opportunity.

A great example of this new constant play is when the Cavs faced the Denver Nuggets on Monday March 21. The Cavs ended with 38 assists that night and shot 55.8% from the field. The next night versus the Bucks, they shot 48.2% from the field and dropped 29 dimes.

“It’s great. It is great basketball. Everyone is in a great rhythm as you saw tonight. Even when we miss some shots, the ball is still moving and we are just in a great rhythm. It’s just good ball movement.”

-LeBron James on ball movement.

image2With the end of the regular season approaching, it is very exciting and comforting to see the Cavs finally playing this consistent and with this much energy. Even with a playoff spot already clinched, the Cavs are sending a message to the rest of the NBA that they are ready for the playoffs and they are not messing around. Even with a little more work that has to be put in and a long playoff road ahead, I will not stop saying this for the rest of the NBA season: There’s always this year.

 

 

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