With the NBA playoffs in full swing now, the Cavaliers are sitting pretty in their first-round matchup. They lead the Pacers two games to nothing, winning both games at home in Quicken Loans Arena.
Now, as game three looms tomorrow, they’ll head to Indianapolis. LeBron has, at times, struggled on the road against the Pacers. But, he’s LeBron, and they’re not, so even if he drops a game there, I think the Cavs will take the series in no more than five games. After all, LeBron hasn’t dropped a first-round playoff game since his first stint in Cleveland.
So, assuming that the Cavs can escape the Pacers, is there a player who might serve as a barometer of their success?
I think so, and I think that player is Kevin Love. Yes, he’s a star, and it’s easy to pick big-name players for things like this, but hear me out.
LeBron is going to get his, win or lose. So, too, is Kyrie Irving. But when the Cavs win, especially when they win by playing complete, team-oriented ball, Kevin Love is all over the stat sheet. He records loads of rebounds, sometimes gets a block or two, has double-digit point totals and fills up the assist column.
When the Cavs lose or are struggling, they tend to descend into isolation basketball. LeBron or Kyrie totally controls the game. One of them takes the ball at the top of the key, dribbles down the shot clock, then takes an ill-advised shot. It’s the natural instinct of the star players.
As such, as the playoffs unwind, watch LeBron tear it up and make sure to appreciate Kyrie’s unique skill set, but to really know how the Cavs are playing, watch the man wearing “0” on his back. As he goes, so go the Cavaliers.