When you mix in very good ball movement on the perimeter and in the paint, a lot of hustle, and a second half commitment to taking care of the basketball and a healthy dose of LeBron James, it all adds up to 99-93 Cavalier win over the game but outclassed Milwaukee Bucks.
The win Tuesday night at ‘The Q' was the Cavalier's 5th in a row overall and ran their record at home to a perfect 4-0.
But there were rough spots.
9 first half turnovers and whistle-strewn play throughout the first two quarters kept the Cavs from capturing any offensive flow or momentum. An early 10-point lead was completely erased by Milwaukee, playing without star Michael Redd, before the Cavs used a late run to take a 48-42 halftime lead.
When the Cavs gave up all but three points of that lead at the end of the quarter it wasn't because of any typical 3rd quarter issues or malaise that, for one reason or another, seems to plague this club. The Cavs scored 26 points and didn't turn the ball over once. They just fell victim to the very hot shooting hand of Bucks guard Luke Ridnour.
Ridnour walked into the locker room at halftime with 5 points on 1-4 shooting from the floor. He came out of the locker room and there were flames flying from his fingers. Ridnour went 5-5 from the floor in the 3rd quarter, including two long 3-pointers and single handedly kept the Bucks in the ballgame.
But James and Anderson Varejao wouldn't let the Bucks walk out of Quicken Loans arena with a win. James hit 5 buckets of his own in the deciding 4th quarter on his way to 41 points, 5 rebounds and 6 assists while Varejao flailed and annoyed his way to 13 point and 10 boards off the bench.
The Cavs also got 15 and 10 from Zydrunas Ilgauskas and 16 points and 5 assists from ex-Buck Mo Williams.
Taking care of business against teams you should beat seems to be catching on with this Cavalier squad. That wasn't always the case in years past. #23 seems to be making sure the Cavs attention is exactly where it needs to be on nights like Tuesday.
James gave all out effort in an attempt to secure the ball and the game, chasing the ball to the baseline and eventually to the sideline in front of the Bucks bench. He never did get to the ball before it bounded out of bounds but he never slowed down in trying.
The play was indicative of the Cavaliers attitude in general. They still have possessions where James dominates the ball and no one moves. But those instances are becoming the exception rather than the norm. There is constant movement on the offensive side and constant pressure being applied defensively.
We've said it before but it's really enjoyable to watch and it bodes well if it continues.
Williams work at the line is apparently contagious too. The Cavs as a team were 26-32 from the free throw line for 81%. James knocked down 8-10 and Z and AV each made their three free throws apiece. And we all know what a refreshing sight that is since the clangs from last season's efforts are still ringing in our ears.
Gibson is simply struggling with his shot right now. Much like hitting a baseball there are a lot of mechanics and work that go into Gibson's smooth, effortless stroke. The guess here is that right now Gibson is mechanically out of whack. He's getting good looks and open shots. He's just not knocking them down. I don't put much weight into the thought that he's struggling to fit in with Williams and a new, up tempo offense. Shooters like Gibson have a great ability to tune out everything in the arena other than the ball and the basket. I expect that a kid that works as hard as he does and is as bright as Gibson is will check the video and make the proper adjustments in his shot. He's too good a shooter to struggle too long.
And when Gibson gets his stroke straightened out this offense could go to another level.
We Got Next
The Denver Nuggets, with Carmelo Anthony and new addition Chauncey Billups, ride into ‘The Q' on Thursday for a TNT nationally televised game. The Nuggets, 4-3 on the young season, come in having won 3 straight. ‘Melo and LBJ should be good theater for a national audience.