Mar 4, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving (2) dribbles behind his back against San Antonio Spurs shooting guard Manu Ginobili (20) in the first quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Love arriving in Cleveland has the Cavs tabbed as NBA title favorites. Can the defending champion San Antonio Spurs handle them?
LeBron James leads offensively loaded trio with Love and Kyrie Irving
Cleveland finally seems to have not just a star player in LeBron James as they did four years ago. They at last have an actual core of stars that could give them the boost it needs to end a city-wide championship drought dating back to 1964. Joining the King in this epic quest is emerging All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. There are many details to go into regarding what the three of them can accomplish, but from a more simplistic standpoint it’s quite clear: they will score lots of points. Collectively, they averaged 73 points per game in 2013-2014. That doesn’t even include Love’s 12 rebounds or Irving and James’ 12 combined assists. Suffice to say teams are going to struggle stopping them from putting the ball in the basket. So how does this impact the Spurs?
James Harden Rockets and Chris Paul Clippers presented problems
To get a grasp on that, it’s best to use last season as an example in judging how San Antonio played against the top offensive teams in the league. In this case it was the Los Angeles Clippers led by Chris Paul at #1 (108.4 points per game) and the Houston Rockets led by James Harden at #2 (107.97). The Spurs played those two teams a combined seven times during the regular season, and the results are somewhat disconcerting. Overall, the champs went a dismal 2-5 against them, allowing an average of 104.8 points per game. It’s important to note that the two wins the Spurs had were both against the Clippers while the Rockets swept all four of their games. As with any sport, it’s all about the matchup.
However the original diagnosis stands. The San Antonio Spurs struggle with offensively explosive teams. That means the Cleveland Cavaliers really are their biggest threat.