Over the past three finals runs for the Cavs the one big complaint has been the bench. It hasn’t taken a basketball expert to see how incompetent the Cavs look at times when LeBron isn’t on the floor. I mean Deron Williams name will be followed by either a laugh, eye roll, or some type of rant laced with curse words from Cavs fans for eternity. How could it not be when he shot 2-16 from the field, 1-9 from 3, totaling for an impressive 5 points appearing in all 5 games last June.
The 2017-18 season seems different. The Cavs have won eight in a row and have won 9 out of their last 10 since LeBron dropped the famous Arthur meme. The key for the Cavs has been LeBron, somehow in his 15th season in the league, he is still showing why he is the best player in the league and continues to add to his case to be the best ever.
But, what can’t go unnoticed is the bench. With the injuries to Tristan Thompson and Isiah Thomas and the mystery of Derrick Rose, the bench has stepped up and helped carry this Cavs team to this impressive run through November.
Three guys have been the catalyst for the bench during this run Dwayne Wade, Kyle Korver and Channing Frye.
Everyone knows who Dwayne Wade is, everyone knows he will be in the Hall of Fame one day for his run with the Heat. This season may not be talked about when discussing his legacy but that doesn’t make what he is doing any less special. During this run, Wade has averaged just over 12 ppg including a 23 point performance against the Clippers on Nov. 17th. Wade has also played over 20 minutes in each game with the exception of games against Charlotte on Nov. 15th and Detroit on Nov. 20th where his minutes hovered around 19:30.
Here is his plus/minus over the past eight games.
Nov. 11 @DAL – -2
Nov.13 @ NYK- + 13
Nov. 15 @ CHO- + 7
Nov. 17 vs. LAC- +19
Nov. 20 @ DET- + 13
Nov. 22 vs BRK – + 8
Nov. 24 vs CHO – + 14
Nov. 27 vs PHI- + 15
In this eight-game stretch, Wade has averaged double-digit points off the bench five times. Three of those five have come in the last three games against Brooklyn, Charlotte and Philly. Scoring in the double digits is nothing to Wade but taking into account his age with all the injuries he’s suffered what he is doing thus far is impressive.
Korver was off and on last season after being acquired from the Hawks last January but he has seemed to find his comfort this season. Over the win streak, Korver is 23-54 from three giving him a 3 point percentage of 42%.
The team seems to thrive when Korver is on the floor. Similar to Wade Korvers plus/minus has been in the positives for every game except the game against the Mavericks on Nov. 11.
Nov. 11 @DAL – -5
Nov.13 @ NYK- + 8
Nov. 15 @ CHO- + 12
Nov. 17 vs. LAC- + 25
Nov. 20 @ DET- + 21
Nov. 22 vs BRK – + 10
Nov. 24 vs CHO – + 12
Nov. 27 vs PHI- + 25
Korver is living up to the expectations when he came to Cleveland. Korver doesn’t have to have to have the 21 point game like he did against the Knicks on Nov. 13th. As long as he is able to come off the bench and knock down a few threes and play solid team defense like he is known for, the decision to resign Korver last offseason will look better and better.
CHANNNNNNIIIINNNNGGGGG (Richard Jefferson voice)
Fan favorite Channing Frye has been HUGE off the bench especially with the Thompson injury. The Cavs lack depth in their front court and it was a huge concern when Thompson went down on Nov. 1st. Frye’s plus/minus has been spectacular as well.
Nov. 11 @DAL – -2
Nov.13 @ NYK- +20
Nov. 15 @ CHO- +14
Nov. 17 vs. LAC- -4
Nov. 20 @ DET- +5
Nov. 22 vs BRK – +1
Nov. 24 vs CHO – +12
Nov. 27 vs PHI- +23
At the minimum, a competent bench could play a huge part for the Cavs. We all know the Cavs are going to go as far as LeBron takes them, but if the bench can step up and just stay above water while LeBron is on the bench in the playoffs the Cavs will go a long way.