No Love for the Cavs?
The Cleveland Cavaliers have endured their fair share of adversity so far this season, specifically with injuries. J.R. Smith isn’t expected back until March, Iman Shumpert has a banged up ankle and now, Kevin Love is out six weeks after having successful arthroscopic knee surgery .
The media has gone into a frenzy with the news about Love and the Toronto Raptors just traded for Serge Ibaka, so the Cavs stock is at a low for most. Some are saying that the Cavs are not the top team in the East anymore and how can they even survive without Love? Well, there are these guys named Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and they are about to carry this team even more. people.
The Cavaliers have played nine games without Love in the lineup and they are 6-3 in those games. Now, that doesn’t tell all that much because it’s a very small sample size, but what about the lineup when Kevin Love dresses, but is on the bench?
When the lineup consists of Channing Frye, Kyrie Irving, LeBron James, Iman Shumpert, and Tristan Thompson the Cavs are +36.9 points per 100 possessions. This lineup is also +2 in total rebounds per 100 possessions. So, Love goes out and it’s a big loss, but the Cavs will be fine during the regular season and hopefully they can slide him back into the mix just in time for the post-season.
LeBron will elevate the level of his play with Love out and his averages of 25.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 8.9 assists per game will help. LeBron has had more than 10 assists in 20 of 51 his games and he will need to do that more if the Cavs are going to stay at the top of the East without Love.
Love is averaging 20 points and 11 rebounds per game so players are going to have to step up to fill these numbers. Expect Irving to score more and LeBron to assist and score more. Channing Frye can expect to see a boost in his numbers.
Frye got the start in the Cavs first game post Love injury and Frye had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Derrick Williams had 13 points and 6 rebounds off the bench and the momentum of these guys carried over in the most recent win over the Pacers. Frye had a less impressive night on the offensive end with only 4 points, but had 8 rebounds and his +/- was +13. Williams had 7 points and 5 rebounds, but also had a nice +/- with +14. If the Cavs are going to keep that number one seed in the East, Frye will need to average around 15 points a game and 5 or 6 rebounds and Williams can pour in around 10 points and 5 rebounds a game off the bench.
Kyle Korver is another player that will be key for the Cavs. He started off slow after coming over from the Hawks, but has been impressive in the last five games. He isn’t going to play the same position as Love, but his production will help keep the Cavs moving without him. Korver is averaging 15.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game in the last five games and is also shooting 74 percent from behind the 3-point line in that five game stretch.
Please chill with the “Oh man, the Cavs are in trouble now. The East is now an open race for that number 1 seed” comments, because as long as the Cavs have the best player in the world in LeBron James and one of the best scorers in the NBA in Kyrie Irving they will be just fine.
(Stats via Basketball Reference)