Five Things We Learned in NBA Thursday: The Cavaliers we expected have arrived
If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while watching Twitter explode because of llamas on the loose in Phoenix...
1) The Cavaliers we expected may be late to the party but they have arrived. They have won 18 of 20. LeBron James is playing like the best player on the planet again. Their starting five are playing lock-down defense as a group (despite J.R. Smith and Kevin Love being in the group). There have been a lot of reasons for a while now to say that the Cavaliers we expected have finally arrived, but Thursday night they announced their presence with authority during a 110-99 win over the Golden State Warriors. A win where they ran away and hid from the team that has been considered the best in the game this season. Signs of what the Cavs were doing right? LeBron hit 8-of-11 contested shot attempts. The Cavs defense held the Warriors to 24-of-43 shooting in the paint. The lists can go on and on. Early in the season we wondered how long it would take Cleveland to morph into the Cavaliers, well it took a trade (particularly for Timofey Mozgov) and LeBron to get some rest, but that team has arrived.
2) Stephen Curry has serious handles. He’s got the purest shot in the game, but this man’s handles are ridiculous as well.
3) Phoenix will not go quietly into that good night. Recently the Suns had lost five in a row. The Thunder had won seven in a row. The Suns were 2.5 games back of the eight-seed Thunder and looked like, after trading Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas at the deadline, they would just pack it in for the season. Nope. Behind great nights from Eric Bledsoe (28 points and he was one assist shy of a triple-double) and Markeif Morris (29 points) the Suns beat the Thunder in overtime. That leaves them 1.5 games back of the Thunder. This team is not going to give up; they will push the Thunder all season long. They will not catch OKC, but they will not go quietly.
4) Eric Bledsoe and Russell Westbrook put on a show. You can decide for yourself which one is the white llama and which is the black, but like the llamas nobody could seem to catch up with Bledsoe (28 points, 13 rebounds, 9 assists) and Westbrook (39 points on 38 shots, 14 rebounds, 11 assists).
5) RIP Earl Lloyd. On Oct. 31, 1950, Earl Lloyd walked onto an NBA court as a member of the Washington Capitols and had six points and 10 rebounds in what was an eight-point loss to the Rochester Royals. In doing so, Lloyd broke the color barrier and became the first black player in the NBA. The Hall of Famer passed away Thursday at age 86.