It’s been an incredible week in Cleveland, or as it’s lovingly referred to, “The Land”.
After a three game skid that had folks in the media wondering what was going on with the defending world champions, the Cavaliers are now playing the best basketball they have played all season and are currently enjoying a winning streak with an average win margin of close to 30 points.
Of course you have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love on the roster, but they will all tell you that three men cannot win a championship, much less a game.
The bench for this team has cemented their “gritty” reputation. From sharp shooting veterans like Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, James Jones, and Mike Dunleavy the Cavaliers are as well balanced as they have ever been.
When JR Smith went down with an injury last week in Toronto, some were ready to throw the towel in. DeAndre Liggins wasn’t one of those people.
The D-League Champion and former Cat stepped up to the task of filling in for Smith on the road against conference rival Toronto and helped Cleveland close out the win that broke their losing streak.
This week, he has shown the world what many in the bluegrass have always known he could do.
He was given Smith’s position in the starting line up for Cleveland in Madison Square Garden against the Knicks tallying six points, two rebounds and two assists in the Cav’s 126-94 victory. Before the game Cavalier’s head coach Ty Lue walked around the locker room and told the media to look over at Liggins.
“Look at him. Ready to bite a m***** f*****.” Lue said as he praised Liggin’s quiet focus.
Liggins followed that up with five points in twenty six minutes in Cleveland’s Hardwood Classics night 114-84 blowout of the Miami Heat. The next night he saw time on the court in Cleveland’s victory against Charlotte.
“He’s doing the same thing he’s always done, just the biggest difference now is he’s playing with the starters and he doesn’t have to handle the ball as much. He doesn’t have to make plays. So now he can just do what he does, and that’s defend, maul people on defense.” Lue told ESPN reporters post game.
After impressing so many in the Northeast Ohio market, ESPN sat down with Liggins and talked with him about the resurgence he is experiencing playing in The Land.
“Even before that in the summer, being at Kentucky with the guys — I was going through actual practice with them like I was still there. It was exciting. It just brought back a lot of memories and it was good just to stay in shape and things like that. Playing with the Kentucky guys and working on my game and working on my shot because I know I’m a 3-and-D guy. I know my shot can be better right now, but I have confidence in it to knock down open shots.” Liggins told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin.
Liggins has also had more than just obstacles to overcome on the court this season, as his cousin passed away last week.
“Right now it’s just a lot of hidden emotions. I haven’t really [processed it]. For me, it’s like, I can’t believe it. A person like that can be gone that quick. We talked every day.”
Liggins will take the court again tomorrow against Andrew Harrison and the Memphis Grizzlies.
You can read McMenamin’s full conversation with DeAndre here —-