What’s Wrong With The Cleveland Cavaliers?
Nick Gilbert, son of Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, is apparently the franchise’s good luck charm. The teenager, who made the bow-tie famous in Cleveland, represented the Cavaliers for the last few years on NBA lottery night and came away with two first overall picks – in 2011, and 2013. Kyrie Irving and Anthony Bennett were those two picks, and in between these drafts, the Cavs also picked SG Dion Waiters and PF Tristan Thompson.
After being fired at the end of the 2010-11 season, Mike Brown was brought back in April 2013 to coach this young, talented Cleveland team. Everyone in Northeast Ohio was excited about this hiring, and had high expectations from the team. The expectation at the start of this season was clear – make the playoffs. No, no one mentioned anything about the Cavs winning 55 games and suddenly turning into a contender of sorts. Just make the playoffs, whether it’s the 7th seed or 8th. That, according to many fans, would be a huge win for the Cavs, who were coming off of three horrendous seasons P.L. (Post LeBron).
The current roster is talented, without a doubt. Kyrie is an All-Star. He’s a stud. Sure, he has games with incredibly dumb turnovers and has not been totally healthy in his career, but overall, he has been special. Anderson Varejao is a bundle of energy, and a surefire double-double machine. His rebounding skills are among the best in the league. The two #4 picks, Waiters and TT, are coming into their own quickly and have shown glimpses of exceptional ball handling skills quite often this season. The trade for Luol Deng was supposed to bring much needed leadership and seniority to the roster. His addition helped when the Cavs went 3-2 on a tough road trip recently, but has had no impact since. Jarrett Jack and CJ Miles are two players who can easily score 10-15 points on a daily basis. All the ingredients of a playoff team are there – unfortunately they haven’t been mixed well enough to produce a flawless recipe.
Somewhere, somehow there’s a disconnect between what the Cavs are saying, and what’s happening on the floor. Mike Brown has looked frustrated several times at post-game interviews, and apparently there have been issues in the locker room among a few players. Andrew Bynum was suspended indefinitely by the Cavs for conduct detrimental to the team. There were reports of a locker room fight between Kyrie and Waiters, which both players subsequently denied. The team record is 16-30. Surprisingly, as of today they are only 3.5 games out of a playoff spot in the pathetic Eastern Conference. This team that started the season talking playoffs has become a laughingstock of the league. They have lost 5 of the last 6 games. Earlier in the season, they had two losing streaks of 5 and 6 games respectively. There hasn’t been much consistency. A typical 10-game stretch for the Cavs would look like this: WLWLLLWLWL. They are 25th in points per game, and second to last in field-goal percentage. The offense has been painful to watch most of the season. Anthony Bennett has been a total disaster, a sheer embarrassment. I’m a diehard Cavs fan living in the NY/NJ area, and was at the Cavs-Knicks game last night at MSG. Needless to say, I was left shaking my head in utter disbelief. My inbox was flooded with messages from my buddy in Cleveland, a fellow hard-core Cavs fan, and I must say, those messages were interspersed with a lot of r-rated words about the Cavs performance over the last few games.
The Cavs are better than this. They should be. They have the talent, the size, the speed, and now a leader in Deng. But, chemistry is a tricky thing. It seems as if Mike Brown has not yet figured out the perfect combinations and match ups, no matter who the opponent is. It takes time for a young unit to gel under a coach they have never played for before, but Cavs fans will not be patient for long. It looks like the team is falling apart in front of us. Sadly there is no one on the team that has an in-your-face attitude, someone who can fire up the team with one loud message, someone who can get in people’s faces and call them out, someone that can lead by example.
Cleveland sports fans are used to being patient. Heck, they live and die by the phrase: ‘There’s Always Next Year’. But the question as far as Cavs are concerned is: can this be fixed, and how soon? Dan Gilbert has been patient so far, and the GM Chris Grant who has been criticized by many for his boneheaded moves (drafting Bennett gets the top spot there), clearly had other things in mind. This is not where they thought the team was headed.
Time is running out, and hopefully the Cavs get their act together in the next couple months and take the first baby step in their process of being a competitive team – make the playoffs. Wait, did I hear someone just laugh at that? Playoffs? You talking about playoffs??
Keep the faith, Cleveland!
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Proud Cleveland Browns, Cavs, & Indians Fan.
Sports on my mind 24/7/365.