The NBA season is an 82-game grind. It is a marathon, not a sprint. Coaches have to monitor player minutes and make sure they are well rested going into the playoffs, which is when games become way more important. You do not want to see a team peak too early in the regular season and run out of gas towards the end and take an early exit out of the playoffs because of it.
This Cleveland Cavaliers team is actually in an eerily similar position at this point in the season compared to where the 2013 NBA champion Miami Heat was at the same time back at the start of the 2012-2013 campaign.
Through 17 games this year, the Cavaliers boast a 13-4 record. At the start of the 2012-2013 season, the Miami Heat were 12-5 through their first 17 games. Now, both of these teams have something in common. That something is that both teams started games off very slow. Because of these slow starts, LeBron James has called out the Cavaliers on a few different occasions after games for their lack of effort.
As an NBA team, you do not want to have slow starts in games because you fall in a hole early and have to fight and waste energy just to get back into the game. However, even with the slow starts to games, that Miami Heat team won the championship to conclude the year. Additionally, with all their talent, they went on a historic run just before the All-Star break.
With a core of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, that Heat team reeled off 27-straight wins before losing 101-97 in a road game against the Chicago Bulls. This year’s Cavaliers team has arguably a better core with James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love. Health is definitely a factor, but you never know when a team can go on a run like that of the Heat’s. As much as it is not a good thing to start off games slow, this could be a blessing in disguise for the Cavs as they see themselves surrounded by championship or bust expectations.
Injuries have plagued them going all the way back to last year and they are desperate to be 100 percent healthy. With only 17 games completed on the young season, they are still not fully healthy which means they will be getting core players back later during the season. Once they can work Irving and Iman Shumpert back into the rotation, one would think that they would start to hit their stride.
As mentioned previously, you do not want to peak too early in the season. When the Heat went on their run, it lasted from early February to late March. Moreover, they went on an eight-game winning streak to end the season. Playoffs start in April so it was the perfect time for them to go on each of those winning streaks because that momentum carried over into the playoffs. They swept the first round series against the Bucks, won their second round matchup with the Bulls in five games, and it took them seven games to win both the Eastern Conference championship and the NBA championship.
Therefore, when comparing both teams, if these slow starts are any indication of things to come, the hope is the Cavaliers can get healthy and gain momentum going into the playoffs when the time comes and the season ends similar to that of the 2012-2013 Miami Heat team, with a championship parade in June.