The Cleveland Cavaliers are a victim of excessive expectations.
They won 24 games last season, and yet, some people were projecting them to win between 45-50 games this season, an incredible leap considering the wine and gold didn’t add a “franchise” type player over the summer.
They did add Mike Brown as coach, a man with a winning legacy in his time in the NBA, but a guy who has had one of the game’s best players on his roster every single year he has been a head coach in the NBA.
Sort of a Phil Jackson-lite, so to speak.
We always wondered how Jackson would do if he didn’t have Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal or Kobe Bryant on his team. Now, Brown may show us what would happen in his place.
Brown has a sterling reputation as a defensive coach, and one look at last season’s Cavaliers would show you the wine and gold needed to change their mindset about playing on that end of the floor.
Offensively, Brown needs help. His best offensive team in his previous stint in Cleveland was when John Kuester was on the staff handling it.
This year’s team looks like Brown’s early teams with LeBron James when the attack was little more than give the ball to James and hope something good happens. Except that Kyrie Irving isn’t the player that James is.
This isn’t to dismiss the play of the team thus far, nor do we insinuate that the Cavs will be a failure this season.
It’s only nine games in, and actually the Cavaliers are on a 41 win pace because they’ve lost all their games at home and lost all the road contests.
Brown’s team is also one with several new players (Andrew Bynum and Jarrett Jack) getting key minutes, another (Anderson Varejao) returning from injury, and still others (Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller) in just their second year in the league.
They are still getting to know each other and also getting better as players.
However, that doesn’t mean that the offensive scheme doesn’t mean to be changed.
When the Cavs have the ball, the offense is mostly run and pick-and-roll, and if that doesn’t work, then they look for someone to take the opponent off the dribble and go to the basket where he can score or pass to a wide open teammate.
That’s as simplistic of a scheme as you can get.
There is little motion away from the ball, nor are any screens set away from the ball to free someone up for an open look.
That may not seem like a big deal, but in close games against good defensive teams, you have to be able to execute offensively. There has to be a plan, and right now we don’t see one.
And we also don’t agree or believe the coach’s statement that they worked only on defense in training camp. High school and college coaches put in offenses and defenses in a four-week time period.
We don’t believe there was no opportunity to at least put in a workable motion offense to this point in the season.
It’s much too early to get discouraged about this basketball team; they’ve played only nine games. But people need to realize they may have been overly optimistic about this year’s Cleveland Cavaliers.
This isn’t a top tier playoff team in the Eastern Conference, and getting to that point was an unrealistic goal.