As much as I want to see a Trilogy between the Warriors and Cavaliers, it won’t be happening.
While most people don’t believe the Cavaliers have what it takes to defend their title, I think it’s safe to say most fans have confidently booked the Cavaliers into the NBA finals. Before the playoffs start, I must plead my case on why they LeBron will be watching the finals at home…on his couch.
This has been a crazy up and down season for the Cavs. Sure, they’re the team that has been through it all, whether it’s injuries, roster changes, or firing their head coach midway through the season. Yet they always seem to bounce back when the playoffs start. We’ve seen it time and time again, and it would simply be preposterous to bet against the Cavali — LeBron James. However, this season is a very different scenario for the cavaliers and they have never been down this road before.
We all remember what happened last June when the Cavaliers made their epic comeback from 3–1 down to win the NBA finals. (unfortunately the internet created an overused meme out of it.) They made history achieving a feat that no one has ever done and proved us all wrong for counting them out. (except the loyal citizens of “The Land”.) They truly showed us that anything is possible.
However, I believe the 3–1 comeback was a disservice for them, and ever since game 7 a lot has changed for the cavaliers. No, I’m not talking about roster moves like the loss of Matthew Dellavedova, or Tristan Thompson dating Khloe Kardashian. (nothing ends well for Kardashian lovers.) I’m talking about the mental makeup of the Cavs, which I think has made a complete 180 from the 2015–2016 season. The Cavaliers changed from a hungry team seeking to win their first franchise championship after losing to the Warriors in 2015, to a presumptuous team that plays like they can just walk to the NBA finals. They approach their games with a “3–1” mentality, thinking they can just beat anyone just because they took down the 73 win warriors in a “Rocky-esque” fashion. Personally it looks like this team has lost their sense of urgency, and it was evident in the final stretch of the regular season. Instead of improving and fine tuning their defense and starting to look like a playoff team, they have taken multiple steps backwards. They were a lousy 12–15 after the All Star Break, with their defensive rating sinking to 21st in the league, and most importantly sliding to the 2nd seed in the eastern conference. While Coach Tyronn Lue claims that they waiting until the playoffs to unleash their defense, via Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.
“We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get and then we will see what happens.”
They were still a lousy 12–15 after the All Star Break, with their defensive rating sinking to 21st in the league, and most importantly they slid to the 2nd seed in the eastern conference with an underachieving 51–31 record. Plus, it doesn’t help that LeBron James is averaging the most minutes per game in the NBA at 37.8 minutes (hopefully he doesn’t get playoff cramps) and trolls like Iman Shumpert are talking crazy.
The Cavs don’t have a strong résumé this year, yet everyone is still picking them as the favorites out the East…it boggles my mind. While, there aren’t nearly as many strong teams in the Eastern Conference as there are out West.(It’s been like this ever since LeBron joined the Heat in 2010.) I believe there are still teams like the Celtics, Wizards, and Raptors who can take down the Cavs. The Toronto Raptors, who could potentially see the Cavaliers in the second round, have the best chance of sending the Cavs home early this summer. With the addition of an elite perimeter defender in PJ Tucker, and an athletic rim protector in Serge Ibaka. (who is an extremely versatile defender in pick and roll situations), They have transformed the Raptors into a defensive juggernaut. I think the Raptors can put out multiple lineups to slow down the Cavs high powered offense and prevent LeBron from making his 7th straight finals’ appearance.
The Cavaliers, will take on the Pacers tomorrow as they begin their campaign to “Defend the Land.” (By the way LeBron will have to see this guy again)
If they do prove me wrong and make it out the Eastern Conference then props to them. Just know, I will be watching them lose to the Golden State Warriors, at home…on my couch…without LeBron 😦
“It’s me against me”