On the second night of a back to back, the Cleveland Cavaliers came in to the FedEx Forum to face the Memphis Grizzlies on the Grizzlies opening night. The Cavs shot out of the gate like a prized Mustang Wednesday night as they went up big early and never looked back, cruising to a 106-76 victory against the Grizzlies.
The Cavaliers took the life out of the building, and out of the Grizzlies with a quick start. A 36-20 lead after the first quarter foreshadowed an easy night for the Cavs. Things looked much simpler for everyone of the Cavaliers than they did against Chicago, as the ball movement was quick and crisp, the pace was upbeat, and threes were falling early and often.
The biggest story of the game: 50 bench points scored by the Cavaliers. Considering Mo Williams and J.R. Smith are starting until eventual starters Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert return, 50 points off the bench is fantastic. New Cavalier, Richard Jefferson, once again led the bench in scoring with 14 points in 18 minutes on 5-6 shooting. The effectiveness LeBron’s backup is exhibiting through the first two games this season is exceptional.
Jared Cunningham and Matthew Dellavedova also contributed to the bench scoring with 12 points a piece on good shooting nights for each. Dellavedova went 5-9 and Cunningham shot 4-5 from the field.
The offense was very balanced with five guys scoring in double digits, and nobody scoring more than 17 (Kevin Love). Along with a balanced offense, the Cavaliers shot the ball very well on the night, shooting 49% from the field and 45% from three with 13 makes. The ball movement for the Cavaliers was phenomenal as multiple guys touched the ball on every possession, and that showed in the stat sheet, as they had 29 assists on 41 total field goals.
J.R. Smith seems to have taken media criticism for lack of play makers on the Cavs personally, as through the first two games, he is attacking the basket more, instead of settling for jumpers, and is creating shots for his teammates. Smith had a positive overall game scoring 9 points, dishing out 7 assists and grabbing 7 boards. If he continues to play smart and unselfish, he could be a great asset to the Cavaliers this season.
Kevin Love seemed to hit a groove early as he already had a double-double at halftime with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Love finished the game with 17 points and 13 rebounds. It was noticeable how much more comfortable he felt on the court and in the offense against the Grizzlies, as he shot 7-14 from the field. Post game Love talked to reporters about how physicality was important against Memphis. “We felt like we needed to be more physical than last night”, said Love.
Last, but definitely not least, The King himself had an off night with only 12 points and 7 rebounds on 4-13 shooting from the field, but other teammates stepped up, which resulted in a blowout victory. Most importantly, James only played 30 minutes as his services were not needed in most of the fourth quarter with a victory already in hand. A low minute count means a well rested LeBron going into Friday’s game at home against the Miami Heat.
The Quicken Loans Arena will be electric Friday night against the Miami Heat as it will be the first time Cavs fans will see their hometown team in action at home since the stinging loss against the Golden State Warriors in the Finals last season. Tipoff for the game is at 7 pm ET.
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