David Blatt: ‘There’s no discussion about the MVP’ without LeBron James
The Cleveland Cavaliers clearly were a motivated bunch on Thursday night as one of the hottest teams in the NBA hosted the Golden State Warriors, one of the best teams in the league, at Quicken Loans Arena.
When it was all said and done, LeBron James led the way, scoring a season-high 42 points as the Cavs held off the Warriors 110-91 to win for the 18th time in its past 20 games.
Not only was it a statement win of sorts for the Cavaliers as a whole, it seemed like James wanted to make a personal point of his own. Given that as was the case last season when Kevin Durant out-dueled him for the MVP award, Golden State’s Steph Curry seems to be the darling of the experts and analysts, and at this point, arguably is the presumptive and prohibitive favorite to be named the league’s most valuable player, possibly much to James’ chagrin.
Along with his 42 points, James added 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals in a complete performance. Curry, meanwhile, struggled, going 5-for-17 from the field, scoring 18 points in his showdown with fellow superstar.
After the game, both Cavs head coach David Blatt and J.R. Smith went to bat for James regarding his MVP credentials.
“If you ask me, there’s no discussion about the MVP if he’s not involved in it,” Blatt said, per an ESPN report.
“I think he took it a little personal between a lot of MVP chants that he’s not in that,” Smith added.
James, on the other hand, tried to downplay any notion that he was extra motivated for this game due to any sense that he feels slighted when it comes to MVP talk.
“Wherever I end up at the end of the season, that’s what it is,” James observed.
With the current hot streak, one that coincided with James’ return to the lineup after sitting out eight games over a two-week period in late December-early January, the Cavaliers now sit at 37-22 after a lackluster, scuttling and surprising 19-20 start.
James said after the game Thursday that it simply took a little time for the Cavaliers to gel, saying the team “never pointed fingers” during the early struggles and “kept it all internal.” The fact that reports surfaced about locker room tiffs between James and Kyrie Irving — although he later praised the point guard for his great play at the end of January — indicated that not everything was well behind the scenes.
Still, James insisted just over a week ago that the team had a championship-caliber roster, mere months after expressing frustration over the growing pains involved at arriving where the team currently stands.
More than 2 hours before tip, and Lebron James is the only one practicing. A report coming up at 6. pic.twitter.com/hX0Pzbu9vd
— Dave Holmes (@DaveHolmesTV) February 26, 2015
James’ name obviously merits inclusion in the MVP discussion, and whether it was intentional or not — along with the fact he showed up two-and-a-half early to warm up — his performance Thursday night certainly made a statement.