Following a slow start in a 119-112 win over the Chicago Bulls, could the Cleveland Cavaliers reshuffled lineup spark the otherwise lethargic Cavs?
With starting point guard Derrick Rose nursing a sprained ankle and shooting guard Dwyane Wade volunteering to come off of the bench, head coach Tyrone Lue rolled out a new lineup with LeBron James at point guard, J.R. Smith at shooting guard, Jae Crowder at small forward and big men Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson at their natural spots of power forward and center.
In his first game at point guard since 2005, James scored 34 points, while dishing out 13 assists, three steals, two rebounds and going 13-of-20 from the field, Love recording his third straight double-double with 20 points, 12 rebounds, Wade had his first double-digit game as a Cavalier with 11 points off the bench.
Despite James’ brilliance at PG, Cleveland is a work in progress, as concerns that I first mentioned here, once again reared their ugly head. Cleveland needs to do a better job at defending three-point shooters as Bulls Finnish rookie Lauri Markkanen channeled his inner Dirk Nowitzki in going five-of-nine from long range, including hitting four straight in the first half, allowing Chicago to jump out to a 14-point lead, and scoring 68 points in the first half.
It is early in the season, which is understandable, but Cleveland needs to address their rotations, manage player’s minutes, especially on an older veteran-laden team as theirs and get consistent production from their bench.
Along with the forementioned Wade and his 11 points, Cleveland got solid contributions from Kyle Korver (11 points), Jeff Green (16 points) and Channing Frye (eight points). While the starting unit will get points, it will be up to the bench to be able to keep the game in check, until James and the first-teamers return.
It is a long season, and this Cavs team is in flux in terms of figuring out its personnel –sans Isaiah Thomas—but when IT does return and likely run the point, we could see a new and even more dangerous Cleveland team.
For now, LBJ at point guard is not only the smart choice, but the wise one for the Cavs going forward.