1st Quarter: In the first 5 minutes of the game, you could see what the Cavaliers game plan was going against the Denver Nuggets. It was to attack quick off of steals, missed shots and even made shots. It’s not hard to understand why they wanted to attack early when you have Lebron and Kyrie. Also, it prevents Denver from getting their defense set. This is where they excel with their big man Nicola Jokic plugging the driving lane. Defensively, the Cavaliers struggled in the first quarter allowing 33 points. Too often the Cavaliers were closing out shooters too fast instead of slowing down, and getting into a defensive position. Denver took advantage of that by going right around the closing out defender which gave them, open looks, and easy second chance opportunities. The Nuggets are top 3 in second chance points.
Score at the end of the first quarter:28-33 Nuggets
2nd Quarter: The Cavs opened the quarter with Frye-Williams-Bron-Korver-Kyrie. This line-up is dangerous! Things switched on the defensive side of the ball for the Cavaliers. In the first four minutes of the second quarter, the Cavs held the Nuggets to just 4 points to regain the lead. They did not let it go for the remainder of the quarter, or game for that matter. Derrick Williams is proving to be an excellent pick-up for the Cavs. He came in and brought instant energy. Williams looks to run in transition immediately after the team secures a rebound, which was on full display with a nasty two handed slam in transition from Kyrie Irving. Williams would finish with 7 pts on 2-3 shooting and 1 rebound. I know his numbers do not jump out at you, but he brings exactly what we need: energy, effort, and efficiency. Kyle Korver continues to show how valuable he is to this team by knocking down virtually every shot he takes. While proving he can still play solid team defense. The Kyle Korver, Channing Frye pick and pop will be a staple of this offense going forward. The Cavaliers bench was huge in getting them the lead.
Score at the end of the second quarter: 59-55 Cavaliers
3rd Quarter: The third quarter was extremely fun and exciting to watch as long as you are not a Nuggets fan. If you are a Nuggets fan, I’m sorry, Lebron and the Cavs woke up. The Cavaliers started the third with 18 straight points and didn’t allow Denver to register their first bucket til the 6:59 mark. Everything was going the Cavaliers way early in the third, including Lebrons intended lob for Tristan Thompson going into the hoop. When the Cavs are locked in on defense, their offense is at full throttle and virtual impossible to stop in transition. Their is no answer when you have Frye and Korver flaring out to the three point line, and Lebron/Kyrie driving to the hoop.
Score at the end of the third quarter: 92-78 Cavaliers
4th Quarter: The Cavs enter the fourth with a 14 point lead allowing Lebron to get some well needed rest. James exited the game with 4 minutes to go totaling 33 minutes and a 16 point lead. Coach Mike Malone tried the hack-a-shaq on Tristan Thompson with 2:33 remaining. Tristan knocked down 2-4 (50%) of those free throws. The rest of the game consisted of the Cavaliers coasting to victory proving they only need to lock in for short periods of time against majority of the league. This kind of effort would not have got it done against the Warriors or Spurs, but it tells you something about this team when they can just turn it on like a switch.
Final Score: 125-109 Cavaliers Win!
Lebron James: 27pts (11-16), 5 reb, 12 asts, 2 stls
Kyrie Irving: 27pts (10-24), 5 asts
Nicola Jokic: 27pts (9-18), 13 reb, 4 asts, 2 blks
Around the League:
The Golden State Warriors beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 130-114 in Kevin Durants first game back to Oklahoma City since he left as a free agent this summer. KD posted 34 pts (12-21), 9 reb, and 3 asts. Russel Westbrook went off with 47 pts (14-26), 11 reb, and 8 asts.
Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers has missed the previous 11 of 12 games and was diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his left knee. Surgery will not be required and no set date for his return.
Sad news in the NBA world, Fab Melo, the former Syracuse and Boston Celtics center has passed away at the age of 26 in Brazil. He was the 22nd overall pick in the 2012 draft.