2016-2017 NBA regular season: playoff’s round Cleveland Cavaliers vs Orlando Magic (games-playoffs) March 11, 2017 at ABC NBATV channel online @NBA 4:00 PM PT(Saturday)full replay (Amway Center, Orlando), result and recap the full game will be available.
Magic will look to bounce back against Cavaliers
LeBron James was magnificent Thursday against the Detroit Pistons. He recorded his career-best eighth triple-double this season with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. At times, James led an assault on the rim, finding open lanes and dunking the ball hard on the familiar rims at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
James somehow finds ways to set more history and do new things in what is already an accomplished career.
But the Cleveland Cavaliers still lost 106-101 despite James’ heroics. He posted a plus-18 plus/minus so it was not as much about James’ play that the Cavaliers lost. It does mean Cleveland was minus-25 with James off the floor Thursday.
Cleveland has struggled with James off the court. The Cavaliers are 8.1 points per 100 possessions better than their opponents with James on the floor. The Cavaliers are only better with Kevin Love on the floor.
But the Cavaliers give nearly all of that back when James is off the floor. Cleveland is minus-8.3 points per 100 possessions with James off the floor. If James still has a case to be the league’s MVP, this impact is as much as anything else an argument for it.
If Cleveland is going to repeat as champions, they will need someone to carry the load so James can get his rest. That attention likely turns to Kyrie Irving.
“A lot of it had to do with my mistakes going into the fourth and not necessarily setting a tone and really coming out and making a stand,” Kyrie Irving told Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com after the loss to the Pistons. “In order for us to be great, we have to be good across the board. I have to demand more out of myself as well as out of my teammates.”
The Cavaliers will still be the favorite to win the Eastern Conference. And minutes without James will become much more limited once the Playoffs begin. But the Cavaliers should have some concern. James is averaging 37.6 minutes per game, his most in his three years in Cleveland. It is hard to imagine him playing much more.
These are the difficult rotation decisions a coach has to make. No one can play 48 minutes. No group can play an entire game either.
Cleveland’s opponent Saturday, the Orlando Magic, also face a similar difficult situation.
Orlando is playing better since the All-Star break with a 3-5 record and with a then-virtually even net rating entering Friday’s road game against the Charlotte Hornets.