It is the tradition as old as time itself. The Masters at Augusta may be a tradition unlike any other, but the tradition of media panic over a LeBron James team six months away from playoff time is the most consistent tradition of them all. Perhaps it is being exemplified more this year after a dramatic offseason. Couple that with LeBron being in the last year of his contract and the national media is having a field day. But for those true Cavs fans who have seen this every year since LeBron came back; it is about looking at the small details.
There is no questioning that the Cavs defense statistically hasn’t gotten better, in fact, it has only gotten worse. The Cavs are dead-last in the NBA in defensive rating at 112.4. (They finished 22nd last year at 108.0.) This has come as a surprise to many who expected an uptick in defensive efficiency after picking up solid perimeter defensive players like Jae Crowder and a savvy veteran, Dwyane Wade. However, if last Tuesday’s game was any inclination, those new pieces seem to be picking and choosing when to display their defensive prowess and that is a problem.
National media members were gawking over this new-look Cavs roster only a month ago. Now they are calling it old and slow. I call it experienced and bored. Perhaps they are correct, our roster does have a lot of miles on it. That is why it is extra important to make sure they stay as fresh and healthy as possible. Like it or not, the reality is the Cavs will continue to play lackadaisical until they can no longer afford to and then we can judge them. There is no reason give these games in November any more importance than what they are, games in November.
Oh, and by the way, the Cavs have yet to play with their second-best player. Isaiah Thomas has been progressing nicely. In fact, his rehab timetable has been described as “accelerating” by Cavs’ officials. The Cavs have been starving for consistent scoring outside of LeBron James. Kevin Love has gotten off to a somewhat slow start. To the surprise of many, Love is down in points from his average last year (19 to 17.5) and he is shooting worse from three (37% to 34%). There is little doubt that those numbers will end up averaging out to about the same, but none the less the Cavs need more from Kevin Love until Isaiah returns. Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Kyle Korver have provided big scoring outbursts on occasion, but none of them can be trusted on a nightly basis. If Isaiah comes back to what he was before his surgery, hopefully, he’ll provide the spark this Cavs team needs right now. Hopefully, that spark also carries over to more energy on the defensive end.
But until then we all as fans and media members alike need to take a page out of the Aaron Rodgers playbook and R.E.L.A.X. The Cavs will be fine. See you in June.
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