After starting the season 4-12, the Cleveland Cavaliers have finally found a little consistency, winning five out of their last seven games. The consistent play correlates with a consistent starting five: in these seven games, the starting lineup has been made up of Kyrie Irving, C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, and Andrew Bynum.
Andrew Bynum has been especially stellar in these games. Bynum earned his first double-double of the season against the Chicago Bulls, the first game of this stretch, and was averaging 18 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the first four games of this seven game stretch, though he has slumped off sense then. He has also been a very effective passer out of the low post, though his statistics don’t show it.
Bynum’s front court running mate,Tristan Thompson, has also been outstanding. He has been averaging almost 12 rebounds a game during this time, a category in which he is currently eighth in the NBA in. His scoring average is also sitting at a little more than 13 per outing, something he has not been doing so consistently this season, especially in his scoring efficiency. The three games before this 5-2 streak, he was a combined 3-20 from the field. In the last seven games, he is 35-73, just below the 50% mark. His stellar increase in free throw efficiency from last year has also been consistent for the young power forward.
Anderson Varejao is also adjusting well to coming off the bench, averaging 10 rebounds in the last seven games.
This potent front court rotation is a big reason for the Cavaliers recent winning tendencies.
Wingmen Alonzo Gee and C.J. Miles add a dynamic combo to the court. Gee provides a defensive threat, usually guarding the opposing teams best player, while Miles (for the time being) makes for a three-point threat that the Cavaliers have been searching for since the LeBron days. Their stats don’t show it, but they have been difference makers for this team. I think the fact that their stats aren’t overwhelming is a good sign. Kyrie Irving and the front court are the main focus of the Cavaliers’ scoring strategy. Instead of having another guard on the court trying to create offense, the Cavaliers seem to benefit by those that are less worried about scoring to win.
Also, Kyrie Irving is starting to play like the superstar he is.
Though Kyrie played the worst game of his career against the Atlanta Hawks during one of their two losses (the other loss came to the Miami Heat) in the last seven match ups, he has been on fire in their wins, averaging 26 points, about 6.5 assists, and a steal in those games and shooting almost 50% from the floor, 40% from behind the arc, and almost 90% from the line, all increases in his averages.
This season was not only a rocky start for the Cleveland Cavaliers, but also for Kyrie.
This team has a lot of new looks, and Kyrie is adjusting to a new offense with some new faces. Mike Brown is also not known as the most point-guard friendly coaches and the tension with backcourt running mate Dion Waiters visibly took its toll on Irving. He was not playing like the team leader we have seen in the past, forcing shots and boasting an assist-to-turnover ratio of less than two.
Kyrie Irving has been especially spectacular in the Cavaliers’ three previous games before losing to the Heat last Saturday, and Cleveland hopes to ride the momentum of these string of wins for the rest of December and into the new year.