Los Angeles Clippers at Cleveland Cavaliers (-5, 206.5 o/u)
It was roughly a month ago that the Cleveland Cavaliers (30-20, 18-9 home) and their roster of all-stars looked like a disaster due to injuries and infighting. However, now that LeBron James is 100% healthy, the squad is finally playing the kind of basketball most expected, winning 11 straight games, moving into a dead-head with the Bulls at the top of the Central Division, and rising to 4/1 in the NBA Title futures.
Despite the recent hot-streak, there is still talk and debate about Kevin Love’s role in the offense.
“I think for Kev, his confidence maybe shooting the ball is a little down,” James said. “I want him to shoot the ball and he needs to shoot it with confidence.”
Love, who only scored five points Monday in a win over Philadelphia, is currently shooting 37.2-percent during the win streak. But the power forward isn’t overly concerned as long as the team keeps getting Ws.
“If we’re continuing to win and I’m not necessarily being asked to score the ball or shoot the volume of shots, that’s fine by me,” Love said. “I’m going to keep doing right by this team and sacrificing for the better of this team.”
Added James, “The title is the ultimate goal. We haven’t played in one playoff game, one playoff minute. That’s when it really counts. You build your habits and progress over the regular season. As fast as you go on an 11-game winning streak, you can go on an 11-game losing streak.”
Up next for the Cavs is a home game against the Los Angeles Clippers (33-16, 13-9 away). The last time the two teams faced off back in January, Cleveland took a 126-121 shootout. Kyrie Irving poured in 37 points, while James had 32. (Love didn’t play due to back spasms.)
The Clippers, who recently put together a six-game win streak of their own, have now lost two of their last three. On Monday, they lost 102-100 in Brooklyn. Point guard Chris Paul had a decent night with 20 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists, but leading-scorer Blake Griffin (22.6 PPG) only scored 13 before fouling out.
“This one’s 100-percent on me,” Griffin said after the game. “I’ve got to be better.”
Clippers head coach Doc Rivers wasn’t pinning the loss just on his star power forward, though. The coach watched his team blow a nine-point lead with only a minute and a half left.
“We just didn’t make [free throws] for whatever reason,” Rivers said. “We had our chances. We had the lead and we blew it. The last two and a half minutes were the disappointing part.”
Look for Los Angeles to give Cleveland a run tonight, which means take the Clippers and the points (+5).
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (20090930-6029) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.)