David Blatt Made the Right Choice

David Blatt was hailed as an excellent option for NBA head coaching by everyone around the league. Even back in 2011, some sportswriters expounded their belief that Blatt would be a fantastic fit in the NBA. His background was impeccable, with numerous awards and accolades coming from his time coaching in Europe.

How strange it was then, that he found himself in the position he was in less than two weeks ago. His current team, The Cleveland Cavaliers, couldn’t seem to put together a consistent game, and looked to be coming apart at the seams. The media was circling, with some even saying that his own assistant coaches were becoming mutinous, and putting words into the head coach’s mouth. Twitter was exploding with hot takes, with people saying he should be gone by the midway point of the season.

Blatt had two options. He could offer his team the carrot or the stick. It looked, for a bit, like he might choose the stick. Just a couple weeks ago, I thought this might be the best option for him. With social media and sports media circling, it seemed like his best bet was to make sure that those around him knew who was in charge. It appeared as though this might be his decision, as he sat J.R. Smith against the Kings for the final 5 minutes, and Kevin Love against the Suns in the fourth quarter, in back-to-back losses. Blatt gave off the image of someone who had decided to show those around him that he wasn’t afraid of losing if players weren’t executing his system the way he wanted.

However, Blatt managed to pull one over on the team, and it seems to have helped the pieces come together. Rather than putting his team through what many players assumed would be a torturous practice, following a miserable six game losing streak, they instead pulled up to a bowling alley. Blatt had decided to choose the carrot after all, to see if an improvement in team bonding would solidify them as a unit. So far, the results are hard to argue, as they have gone on a five game win streak. They have looked much improved on defense, and have started to look like they’re actually having fun.

After today’s win against the Thunder, they face three more teams over .500 until the All-Star break and they’ve already got wins against two of them. This team looks completely different from the beginning of the month, and the fact that the team is finally buying into Blatt and his system is as much a part of it as the new personnel and a healthy roster. It’s going to be exciting to see the heights this team can soar to, and it seems like David Blatt finally has some room to relax and enjoy the limelight.

Image courtesy of Geeksandcleats

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