Last night, LeBron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving combined for 71 of the Cavaliers’ 116 points. James and Irving scored 23, while Love scored a game-high 25. Those 71 points helped lead Cleveland to a massive 38 point win in the Eastern Conference Finals over the Toronto Raptors. After this Game 5 blowout, I got to thinking, how have the Wine & Gold fared when the Big 3 scores 65 or more combined points?
My research made this answer very clear…the Cavs have fared exceptionally well when Love, James and Irving are on their game.
The first game I found was from January 30 of this season against the San Antonio Spurs. In this game, Love, Irving and James combined for 71 points, which resulted in a 14 point thrashing of the always tough Spurs. The final score from that game, 117-103. Then I found a game from the day before the Spurs game, January 29, against the Detroit Pistons. In this game, the Big 3 combined for 77 points and beat the Pistons 114-106. During the regular season, this recipe worked out well.
But how about the postseason? That’s when it really matters. Does the 65+ theory still work?
Without a doubt.
The Big 3 have scored 65 or more points in 8 out of their 13 playoff games. In those five games that they haven’t scored 65 or more points, the Cavaliers have a record of just 3-2.
So the simple recipe for success in Cleveland, have the Big 3 score 65 or more points. Logically, this makes sense. If Love, Irving and James score 65, the rest of the team only needs to score 40 to reach 105 points. If you divide that out saying 7 other guys will be on the court throughout the game, that is only 5.7 points per role player, which is more than doable.
Going into the Finals, this recipe for success will become even more important, as both Oklahoma City and Golden State can score the basketball. If just one of the Big 3 are off, it is going to be an uphill battle for the Cavs.
If the Big 3 are hot however, the Wine & Gold will be nearly impossible to beat.