Spring is on the horizon, the weather is beginning to break in the state of Ohio, the pesky cold days are soon to be behind, and you have a Cleveland Cavaliers team that is on the brink of their second playoff berth since the return of Lebron James. Life seems to be all well at face value in Ohio. If the stats of the 2015-2016 told the story of this year, everything would look absolutely wonderful. The Cavs currently own the best record in the Eastern Conference, the usual teams that historically have played them tough seem to be in a struggle just to make the postseason, and the Toronto Raptors appear to be the lone team that may be able to challenge them in what looks to be a cakewalk to the NBA finals for the second year in a row.
One would never guess that this team, with a record standing at 44-17, would have been blown out by 30 points, changed their head coach within that same week, faced numerous reports surrounding their core not being happy with playing alongside each other, and a trade that sent away the last remaining player of the pre-Miami era of Lebron’s stint in Cleveland in Anderson Varejao. Life also remains complicated as the whole team with the exception of James and budding star Kyrie Irving seems to be available for trade, including 2014’s acquisition,Â Kevin Love. ESPN Analyst Stephen A. Smith has gone on the record recently with shocking reports saying that Kyrie Irving wasn’t too pleased with his current role with the Cavs. If that was not enough, days later he reported that Akron’s own Lebron James may not be fully on board with retiring in Cleveland. All the events, rumors and inner turmoil doesn’t seem to have rattled the team on court.
It’s been a rocky road this season for the Cavs, as Â expectations are always high with LeBron James on your team. The general understanding in Cleveland is that it is championship or bust. The franchise is making their best push to maximize the remaining window of Lebron’s career as an elite talent. Newly promoted head coach Tyronn Lue has his work cut out for him as the expectations are beyond high heading into the postseason. The team appears to be healthy, at full strength and even fresh as they’ve found numerous spots to rest the Big 3 (Though games without James doesn’t appear to end well as the Cavs are 3-12 when LeBron sits).
Although this season has had it’s up and down, there is hope for Cavalier fans as it was a well-known case that the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors had their share or troubles in stints during last year’s finals run. Golden State did need 6 games to beat an unhealthy Cavalier team so this year if healthy, Cleveland should very confident. The finals rematch this season resulted in a Christmas Day barn burner, and a very ugly blowout on MLK day, which prompted the dismissal of former Cavs head coach David Blatt. Lue reportedly demands more respect and accountabilityÂ and as a former player and assistant he is no stranger to NBA basketball. To Blatt’s credit he did take the team to the Finals last year and his team was number one in the conference at the time of his termination but Lue always seemed to have a better relationship with players and he has more NBA coaching experience than Blatt. If Luke Walton’s temporary handling of the Warriors at the season’s start was any indicated of how a fresh mind can help a team, there is
If Luke Walton’s temporary handling of the Warriors at the season’s start was any indication of how a fresh leader can help a team, there is reason to believe the Cavs will fare better off with Lue at the Head. We’ll see if Lue’s bond with the players on the team is strong enough to push the Cavaliers to the level it will take to defeat the eventual Western Conference Champion.
Will the mid-season shake up prove to be a setback for the Cavs Championship run or will the shake up get Cleveland over the hump? Stay tuned to Cavs Pulse!