Cavaliers’ Extended Minutes Haven’t Hurt Them in Playoffs


The NBA Playoffs have been a little underwhelming. Did the Cleveland Cavaliers hurt themselves in playing big minutes?

To sum up the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs so far: injuries, injuries, more injuries, and everyone under the sun criticizing the Cleveland Cavaliers.

What are they criticizing the Cavaliers for this time? Because instead of their stars underperforming, they are now over performing.

The Cavaliers have taken heat since their 4-0 series sweep of the Detroit Pistons due to the fact that their stars played such high minutes each game. Well, it is true the LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love did play a large amount of minutes during the first round. But on the other hand, the Cavs are the only team to sweep the series in the Eastern Conference, and one of only two teams to sweep a series in the entire First Round (the other not being Golden State).

During this year’s playoffs, it is a concern for stars to get hurt. Especially, when players like Stephen Curry, Blake Griffin, Isaiah Thomas, and Chris Paul have already all gone down with significant injuries. What most misunderstand however, is that the Cavaliers are putting less wear and tear on their big three than the rest of the NBA by actually playing them extended minutes.

First, no one realizes that besides LeBron James (41.3 MPG) no other Cavalier holds a sole place within the top 10 in minutes per game during this postseason. Regardless though, there’s more logic behind the Cavaliers’ minutes than that (well, actually it’s pretty common sense based).

The Cavaliers big three averages 153 minutes per NBA Playoff series this season. The only other team to sweep a series in the opening round, the San Antonio Spurs, averaged 109 minutes per series between their top three players by minutes. For the Cavaliers, there second round opponent (either the Boston Celtics or Atlanta Hawks, series tied 2-2) can have three players average roughly 241.8 minutes total by the end of the series. That makes 153 minutes look pretty acceptable.

While the Cavs’ stars are sitting home resting and preparing, each team in the Eastern Conference is still battling for the opening series victory. Through four games, the Cavaliers did use their key players for a lot of minutes, which could have been risky. But by sweeping the series it acts in their favor for these players to recover while other teams still play.

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That’s the common sense of it. Yes, the Cavs ran a risk of having their starters exhausted if the series ran more than four games and injury could have most certainly been a risk later in the series. It didn’t matter though because they have proven all season long that they are the best team in the Eastern Conference. With their big three in the game most teams can’t beat them and Coach Tyronne Lue understands this. That is why playing LeBron, Kyrie, and Love for extended minutes wasn’t a risk.

The motto is win. For each and every team in the NBA Playoffs, the motto must be win. For the Cavaliers, winning means playing their key players. It may not always lead to a sweep in the series, but for an opening round trying to build momentum early, letting your stars be stars is a solid foundation to playoff success.

Obviously, this doesn’t go for the entire playoffs. Right now though, it’s time to stop criticizing the Cavaliers. Their stars are going to be much more rested than the rest of the playoff teams come the Conference Semi-Finals.

Are you okay with how many minutes the Cavs played in the 1st Round?