55 games into the season and we see the Cleveland Cavaliers sitting rather comfortably in the standings considering the slow start to their season. This team has grown a lot and transformed into a totally different group before our eyes. Contributing to the upward curve that the Cavs are enjoying thus far aren`t only the new additions; LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have both stepped up while Kevin Love, despite all the criticisms, is still giving out highly productive numbers and of course, Coach David Blatt has steadily adjusted to the NBA life.
There`s nowhere to go but up for the Wine & Gold so we have outlined five goals that the Cleveland Cavaliers need to meet before the playoff starts.
5. Coach David Blatt Needs To Regain His True Fire
A lot has been said about Coach David Blatt this early. He`s been heralded as a genius then people asked for his head. His leadership has been put to question and he`s tried hard to get LeBron`s approval. Blatt`s adjustment to the NBA coaching intricacies has been a wild ride so far.
Despite all these things that are happening around him, nothing can take away the success he`s experienced over his coaching career. A coaching career that saw him get recognized for his fiery demeanor on the court. He`s a no nonsense coach who doesn’t care if he`s talking to the team`s best player. At least that was the David Blatt that the world outside the NBA got to know. However, he`s slowly showing glimpses of his old self. He`s already benched Kevin Love for an entire fourth quarter a couple of times and lately he`s even benched LeBron James for an extended stretch. For the Cavaliers to grind their way to the finish line, they need someone to light some fire underneath them and Coach David Blatt, the old David Blatt, is poised to be that person.
4. LeBron James Needs To Average 32-34 Minutes Per Game
No other player has probably played the most basketball over the last few years than LeBron James. He is one hell of a physical specimen, but he’s still human. In fact, the 36.6 minutes per game that he’s averaging this season is already the fewest of his career, but he’s not getting any younger. Not that he`s an old player already but he plays a lot of minutes every game and he continues to play until May, which could still be the case this season, so if there`s an opportunity to rest him then by all means give him a breather. He`s the best player in the world and this Cavalier team has gone through so much only to see another shortcoming in the hands of a fatigued LeBron.
In his first 29 games, LeBron averaged around 37 minutes per contest. He took two weeks off to give his body a much needed rest and the next 16 games saw him play 34 minutes on average. That`s a good trend if you ask me.
3. Win The Central Division
The team`s ultimate focus is on winning the title in June but the war is won by winning a few battles here and there and one important battle lies within their own Central Division. Winning the division is not for decoration. It guarantees the team a top three seed in the playoffs. It is something that would be of great importance as playoff series are often decided by minute details which teams capitalize on and seeding is by no means a small detail making it an even larger factor in the team`s chances of advancing.
The Chicago Bulls currently sit atop the Central Division with a slim lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers. There have been a lot of opportunities to take over but there will be plenty more as the season progresses and it will be a tougher grind from here on.
2. Help Down Low
Timofey Mozgov has been heaven sent for Cleveland but as good as he is, the team can’t rely on one bottle of vodka throughout the whole party. The Cavs need a backup center in case anything forces Mozilla to sit. Brendan Haywood just isn’t enough. I hate to say this because Haywood seemed to be a good locker room presence but he`s a trade piece and nothing more.
Either Emeka Okafor or Jermaine O’Neal would be great for the Cavs and they wouldn’t be forced into anything because of Mozgov`s presence, which should work well for their bodies. Other than the two veterans, the Cavaliers could still take a flyer on other third string centers such as Jeff Whitey, Lavoy Allen, Meyers Leonard, and the likes.
1 – Top 10 In Points-Scored And Points-Allowed
The top two teams in the league right now are Golden State and Atlanta who both are among the ten best teams in scoring and limiting their opponents` baskets. The 2014 champion Spurs were 6th in both categories. The 2013 champion Heat was ranked 5th in both categories as well. The 2012 titlist Heat was 7th in points scored and 4th in points allowed. Even the 2011 Mavericks ranked near the same threshold as they were 11th in scoring and 10th in allowing baskets from opponents.
You get the point, right? As popular as those teams were for their offense or defense, they never forgot to excel on the other end as well. The Cavaliers are known for their firepower and rightfully so sit at number five in points scored but are way down at number twenty four in points allowed. It`s going to be a long climb for the Cavs but they are on the right track especially if we only take into account the numbers from their past sixteen games.