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Postgame Pindowns: Cavs grind out quality win behind bounce back games for Kevin Love, J.R. Smith

Kevin Love

Cleveland’s feelings can be summarized by LeBron James’ last tweet. We’re in the mood for some pindowns as the Cavs host the Milwaukee Bucks and hope to improve to 5-6.

  1. Cavs forced early foul trouble and found the bonus 2.5 minutes into the game. Out of 32 attempts against Milwaukee in five quarters, the Cavs have only missed one.
  2. In the first half, Kevin Love was excellent on defense, J.R. Smith was excellent on offense. Against a Bucks team trying to contend, it reminds us the Cavs tend to play to the level of their opponent but they can still surprise us.
  3. Cavs unleashed an situational small ball lineup with Jeff Green at the center along with four guards (Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, Dwyane Wade and returning Iman Shumpert). This came when Thon Maker and Giannis Antetokounmpo rested, giving Coach Lue the chance to experiment with his reservoir of role players. This experiment wasn’t the best (-6 differential).
  4. The bounce back was real for Love who led Cavaliers scoring in the first half; he had 20 points off of five shots.
  5. While the effort on defense was more apparent and earlier in the game, the Cavs offense continues to look for easy baskets. The Bucks were +11 in assists and +9 in fast break points in the first half.
  6. The third quarter was about mistakes for the Cavaliers. The tremendous athleticism for Milwaukee punished them for each offensive mishap and defensive delay. The Cavs regained the lead heading into the fourth, but there was a consistency issue.
  7. Tyronn Lue had a much more intriguing experiment in the fourth quarter as a unit of Dwyane Wade, Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith (Cavs’ best perimeter defenders) along with Kyle Korver and Jeff Green to provide a balance of shooting and defense. They maintained their lead.
  8. Shumpert’s defense was absolutely brilliant. He accounted for four Bucks turnovers in the fourth quarter while forcing nothing offensively.
  9. This was a big game for the Cavaliers. Losing to teams with little to no playoff aspirations for over 10 days, they had bounce back performances from Love and Smith. Not to mention they played through tired legs for most of the fourth quarter. Conditioning, chemistry and continuity, all in Cleveland for this one.
  10. Welcome back, J.R. Smith.

The Cavaliers improve to 5-6, but today’s game reminded us of what this team (specifically the starters) is capable of. They hit the road for a three-game road trip, look for pindowns along the way.

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