Since the three team trade that sent Dion Waiters to the Thunder, in exchange for J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert from the Knicks, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been near unstoppable. With a record of 29-10 since the trade, Cleveland is rolling. And that is mainly because of what the trade did for the Cav’s bench.
It is pretty hard to come off the bench and produce as much as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving do, but Coach Dave Blatt has been adjusting the lineups so the two superstars are complemented sufficiently by the right players. Having a player like Iman Shumpert on the bench, who can give LeBron a blow in guarding the opposing best player will be huge come playoff time. LeBron’s average of 36.3 minutes per game takes its toll on your superstar. Even the King needs a break every now and then. Shumpert has the capability to give quality defense minutes so LeBron can be fresh at the end of the game.
But to be honest, Irving and James are in the game for the majority of the time. So having those role players to complement the two is huge. James Jones, Tristan Thomson, and Kendrick Perkins all possess attributes that, when paired with James and Irving, allow for success on both ends of the court. Whether it is Kendrick Perkins taking over for Mozgov protecting the rim or Tristan Thomson getting out in transition with J.R. Smith the Cavs have found the perfect supplement to their starters.
The Cavs bench is last in the league in scoring. But they average just 15.9 minutes a game (second least in the NBA). This proves that the production is there when they are in the game. Their entire bench is the definition of role players who put up quality minutes every night. The Cavs have been a fun team to watch since their recent trades. So watch for them to roll right into that no. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs come this April.
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