The Cavaliers played easily their most complete game of the season Monday in winning 116-88 in Detroit.
Now the challenge is to display that same effort and concentration tonight when they host Brooklyn at Quicken Loans Arena.
And do it again and again and again after that.
This is not to say the Cavs have to win by 28 points every night. Heck, it’s not even meant to suggest they have to win every night. It’s asking only that they play hard each and every game.
Effort should be a given, a constant … not a surprise. But too often this team shows up, goes through the motions, falls behind an inferior opponent, wakes up sometime in the third quarter and begins a ferocious rally.
Sometimes the Cavs win, sometimes they don’t. The point is they should never be in that position against the Orlandos, Brooklyns, Atlantas and New Yorks of the NBA world.
Cleveland has now won five straight to improve to 10-7, but, truth be told, some of the victories in that streak weren’t overly impressive.
That’s why the effort against the Pistons at Little Caesars Arena was so encouraging, because it showed the Cavs are still capable of being the big cheese when properly focused and motivated.
That it came with Derrick Rose, Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson out with injuries and with Jose Calderon playing his best game of the season made it more impressive still, as the Cavs gave up a season-low 88 points.
Now all Tyronn Lue has to do is get his players to display that kind of effort and commitment tonight against the Nets.
And the game after that and the game after that and …
Rose is Rose
Don’t look now, but the oft-injured Rose has played in just seven of the Cavs’ 17 games and will be out at least one more week and probably two with a sprained left ankle.
Equally concerning is that he’s been a playmaker only for himself when on the floor.
Still very explosive when healthy — and we emphasize “when healthy” — Rose is averaging a respectable 14.3 points on the season.
Earlier in the season, Lue repeatedly bemoaned that the Cavs didn’t have a point guard when Rose was out, but it could be argued they also didn’t have one when he was playing. Rose is averaging a paltry 1.7 assists.
- Now in his 15th season, LeBron James is averaging 28.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 8.5 assists. On top of that, he’s having the best shooting seasons of his career from the field (.582), on 3-pointers (.413) and at the line (.783). A fifth league MVP award is possible, but the Cavs will have to win at better than a .588 clip for him to get it.
- With Thompson out, Channing Frye has played at least 20 minutes in three of the last four games. In those three games, Frye averaged 9.3 points and made six of 14 3-pointers. More importantly, the Cavs were plus-39 with him on the court.
- Though Dwyane Wade’s scoring output has been all over the board, the Cavs have outscored their opponents with him on the floor in six of their last eight games. In his last nine games, the 6-foot-4 guard has had point totals of 2, 25, 10, 8, 3, 15, 7, 23 and 8. The 15th-year pro, however, has done more than average 9.7 points, as he’s also putting up 4.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists in 22.8 minutes.
- Kevin Love is averaging 18.4 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists and has posted 11 double-doubles in points and rebounds. His .461 shooting is his best in four seasons with the Cavs, as are his 5.4 free throw attempts per game.
- Kyle Korver is 16-for-22 from inside the 3-point line (.727), 43-for-97 from behind it (.443) and 20-for-23 from the free throw line (.870).
- The Cavs are undefeated when Jae Crowder scores in double figures, but he’s only done so seven times. In the other 10 games, Cleveland is 3-7 and Crowder is averaging 5.1 points. For the season, he is shooting .373 from the field and .317 on 3-pointers.
- Despite holding Detroit to 88 points, the Cavs still entered Tuesday last in the league in defensive efficiency, 29th in field goal percentage allowed (.496) and 28th in points allowed (110.8). They also were 28th in points allowed per game on 3-pointers (37.1).
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