Cleveland has seen their ups and downs so far in a shaky end of the season stretch they’re literally stumbling to the playoffs.
The dynamic duo of Kyrie and Lebron has performed and after a big win over the second place Celtics the Wine and Gold seemed to be rolling again, but after losing to Atlanta’s reserves and blowing a late lead to Miami, Believeland is officially alarmed. Injuries have plagued the lineup. Starters Iman Shumpert and Tristan Thompson have missed significant time, key reserve Kyle Korver has also struggled to stay healthy and these loses have disrupted team chemistry.
In theory the defending champs should be even better this year after adding one of the best marksmen in the league, Kyle Korver, and scooping up veteran point guard Deron Williams to replace Matt Dellavedova. David Griffin even attempted to add depth in the front court by signing Larry Sanders but the once promising big man hasn’t been the same since returning from a short retirement stint. This team will need more from the role players guys will have to make open looks when teams lock in on the big three.
A major factor will be the defensive effort when all five guys lock in they can really strap up on the opposition. Lebron James will have to be the anchor on the defensive side. He will have to set the tone for the other guys to follow. Transition points will be key as well, as this squad is full of athletes and they are dangerous on the break. J.R. Smith, Shump, and Deandre Liggins are all capable finishers on the wings. Kevin Love will have to reestablish himself as a legitimate weapon. The stretch four along with Korver will be counted on to space the floor.
In the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs they will be matched up with a scrappy Indiana Pacers team. The Pacers are obviously overmatched but won’t lay down. Both franchises are very familiar with one another. Cleveland is still the favorite to rep the East side in the finals but it could prove tougher than most think. Washington and Boston have been matchup problems for the Cavs this season. In their last contest John Wall and the Wizards scraped by King James and co.
Presumably, if everything goes as expected, we’ll witness a rematch of last year’s championship series. The Cavs star power will outshine a collective group of less talented teams, and the obnoxiously stacked Golden State Warriors will prove to be too much for a rebranded Spurs franchise.
If this is the case Cleveland will have to reach a level of play that hasn’t been seen from them in 2017 championship form. It will take a “Lebron like performance” from James to keep the Cavs close, but to complete a repeat Irving and Love must play their best basketball. All 12 guys will have to completely dedicate and sacrifice for the mission at hand can they give absolutely everything they have to do the unthinkable.
We’ve seen the core of this team defy the odds. It’s in these players but the challenge is much bigger this season. Tyronn Lue has to tighten up the issues and get his guys back to just playing the game.
Only time will tell but if they can pull it together in time. We could see another historic run for Believeland or maybe they don’t overcome the kinks and fail to live up to the championship standard.