Are The Cavs Only Trying To Get Past The Regular Season Before Turning It On?
Right after the Golden State Warriors won their first title in 40 years at the Quicken Loans Arena, the Cleveland Cavaliers were instantly hailed as the odds on favorites to claim the title this coming June. It didn’t matter if they only played the role of bridesmaids to the Warriors, because everyone knew how badly depleted the Cavaliers’ lineup was in the Finals when they still won two games.
Nine months later, the tides have changed. Golden State is now considered untouchable by many and Cleveland is still trying to find consistency.
The Cavaliers currently sit not-too-comfortably atop the Eastern Conference standings, two games ahead of the Toronto Raptors. The Cavs also hold the third best record in the entire NBA behind the Golden State Warriors and the San Antonio Spurs. If the season ended today, the squad would hold home court through the entire Eastern Conference playoffs. This team looks very good on paper, but no one can confidently say that they already look like championship material.
There seems to be a ton of controversy and hearsay surrounding the Cavaliers these days. There were speculations that Kyrie Irving is unhappy in Cleveland and is looking to force his way towards the exit soon. There were also rumors about the allegedly non-existent chemistry between LeBron James and Irving. Kevin Love wasn’t spared as well with talks that he would be traded before the NBA trade deadline hit. He is still with the team. But the most controversial story of the Cavs` season is arguably the timing of David Blat`s firing.
These speculations and drama are normal with any LeBron James-led team. But the play on the court is the one thing that matters.
However, the Cavaliers clearly have not been playing up to their full potential as of late. They are 7-3 during their last 10 games. But what’s more alarming is the inconsistency that was unveiled by two glaring losses recently. One was on the road in Washington with LeBron James sitting out. The other was against the Memphis Grizzlies who notably were without four of their top players in Mike Conley, Marc Gasol, Matt Barnes, and Zach Randolph. That was followed by the 19 point drubbing the Cavs suffered at the hands of the Miami Heat, a game where they were down 33 in the fourth quarter and the loss to the Nets on Thursday in which they allowed a 14-0 4th quarter run to end the game.
Are the Cavaliers just bored? That seems to be the look of things. Anytime you lose to a Memphis team who are without their stars at home you have to be bored. When the Cavaliers are bored they tend to not focus and, in turn, make silly mistakes. Especially, turning the ball over.
A glaring stat in the game on March 7th was the Cavaliers committing 25 turnovers which consequently led to 30 points scored by the Grizzlies. The Cavaliers have a huge payroll yet LeBron James and Kyrie Irving seemed to be the only players that showed up in the Memphis game.
While the Cavs have had stretches wherein they looked absolutely splendid on the hardwood, these games drag them back in huge ways. This team is already equipped with the personnel that can take on any opponent, but what’s lacking is the consistency and the championship mettle. Cleveland has a tendency to play to their opponent’s level and, when they lose focus, forget about moving the ball. Time and again, too much isolation plays have caused more harm than opportunities.
On Thursday, the Cavs other guys didn’t come through. LeBron James scored 30 points on 13-16 shooting, but J.R. Smith, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love combined to shoot 14-46 from the field for 32 points.
While it’s true that LeBron James takes his game a few notches higher in the playoffs, the Cavs can’t rely on that. Even James himself and the veterans needs to emphasize this to his less experienced teammates and keep everyone on their toes.
The team has to become more congestive and play as one unit if they have any hopes of hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy come June. With 15 games left in the season, the Cavs have time to right the ship.