Let this incredible LeBron James pass remind you the Cavs will be fine

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LeBron James pulled off one of the most unlikely passes you’ll ever see on Tuesday. (AP)
LeBron James pulled off one of the most unlikely passes you’ll ever see on Tuesday. (AP)

Tuesday was a bad day for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The news of Kevin Love’s arthroscopic knee surgery and six-week absence added another complication to a busy few weeks for the defending NBA champions and, in concert with the Toronto Raptors’ trade for Serge Ibaka, appeared to open up the Eastern Conference race far wider than it had been just a few days prior. The Cavs remain favorites to play in a third-straight NBA Finals and still boast two active stars in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, but Love’s surgery certainly brought more reason to worry.

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As ever, the best tonic for that uncertainty is LeBron. The best basketball player on the planet excelled in Tuesday’s visit to the Minnesota Timberwolves, putting up an efficient 25 points (10-of-14 FG), 14 assists, and eight rebounds in Cleveland’s 114-108 win.

He also had the best highlight of the NBA’s light three-game schedule — this no-look pass through the legs of an unprepared Andrew Wiggins:


Wiggins ends up looking pretty silly on this play, but it’s hard to criticize him too much for the goof. Perhaps no other player in the league would even attempt this pass — it’s a no-look, cross-body, two-handed bounce pass through a waiting defender. The question to ask isn’t why Wiggins couldn’t stop it, but how LeBron even decided it was a thing to do.

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To Wiggins’s credit, he more than made up for this embarrassing moment over the rest of the night. The Wolves wing scored a game-high 41 points (16-of-29 FG) to help keep his team even with the Cavs through three quarters. Wiggins went just 2-of-7 from the field in the fourth quarter as the Wolves scored only 15 points to let the game slip away, but he was instrumental in keeping the hosts so close to begin with.


Ultimately, though, there is no one who can control a game like LeBron James. His tremendous play was a reminder that, no matter how many players go on the shelf, the Cavaliers will have an advantage over their conference rivals simply due to his presence. When he’s around, that which might not otherwise work makes sense. Channing Frye showed that he can fill Love’s spot in the starting lineup with 21 points and 10 rebounds, Irving gladly took on a large share of the shots (although he went only 10-of-27 for his 25 points, and recent 10-day-contract signee Derrick Williams played the role of energy guy off the bench and finished with 13 points and six boards in 23 minutes. It’s far from an ideal situation for Cleveland (and almost certainly not enough to win a title), but it should work for a month or more.


As our Dan Devine wrote earlier Tuesday, asking LeBron to play 40-plus minutes per game might not be sustainable over a long period. On the other hand, LeBron has made a lot of doubters look foolish over the years. He can’t do everything for the Cavs, but he’ll probably get enough done to ensure they’re fine.

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Eric Freeman is a writer for Ball Don’t Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at efreeman_ysports@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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