Cavs drop to No. 2 in East after loss to Spurs but LeBron James' history is on their side
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost more than just a game in their embarrassing 103-74 loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday. Cleveland also lost their season-long hold on the No. 1 seed in the East and are now in the No. 2 spot, a half game back from the Boston Celtics.
After the loss to the Spurs, LeBron James wasn’t too concerned with the Celtics passing the Cavs in the standings. For James, he believes that the Cavs just need to play better overall and wherever they are in the standings, doesn’t make much of a difference.
From ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne:
“That’s fine,” Cavaliers star LeBron James said when informed Boston had passed Cleveland in the standings with the 103-74 loss. “It matters more that we play better basketball than where we’re at. If that results in the 1, 2 or 3 seed, we need to play better basketball. That’s all it comes down to. I’m not worried about anything.”
The Cavs do indeed need to play better basketball. They have gone 5-5 in their last ten games and are just 6-9 for the month of March. Cleveland’s defense has also been atrocious, giving up 108.1 points per 100 possessions, which is 23rd overall in the NBA. These are all warning signs of Cleveland possibly being vulnerable and less likely to defend their title. Yet despite this, James is still not worried, which may be because his past history supports his confidence.
James has led his teams to the past six straight Finals and during that stretch, both the Heat and Cavs were the No. 1 seed in the East only once respectively. Miami was the No. 1 seed in 2013 and Cleveland last season. In other years, teams like the Chicago Bulls, Indiana Pacers, and Atlanta Hawks were No. 1 in the East, giving them hope that they could truly take down James in the playoffs with their home-court advantage. But that didn’t happen. The Heat beat the Bulls and Pacers and the Cavs dominated the Hawks, sweeping Atlanta in four games. In fact, James’ teams only lost three times in the playoffs when they weren’t the No. 1 seed, going 12-3.
The Cavs will more than likely shift into a different mode during the postseason, almost hitting a switch that will make them become re-engaged and reach their full potential. But the Celtics could possibly present James and the Cavs a new set of challenges in the playoffs and so could the Wizards and Raptors. However, Cleveland has two other All-Stars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love and a ton of talented depth with players like Deron Williams, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, and Kyle Korver. Plus the Cavs have James, who has shown in the past that even if his team doesn’t have the No. 1 seed, it doesn’t really matter.
The Cavs could also very well still finish with the No. 1 seed in the East. They have been playing poorly but could string together a few more wins to close out the season and move ahead of Boston. That’s also based on the Celtics faltering a bit down the stretch, which doesn’t seem too likely given how Boston has been playing as of late. But even if they don’t, the Cavs have James, whose success in the postseason isn’t predicated on where his teams finish in the standings.