No doubt it has been a crazy week for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
They’ve lost three of their last four, including a loss on Christmas Day at Miami, and then received a beatdown a few days later at home to the lowly Detroit Pistons.
Then, rumors started to fly that the management wasn’t happy with the job coach David Blatt is doing, and that LeBron James apparently talked to Dwyane Wade about an on-court reunion if things didn’t get better with the Cavs.
And yesterday, it was announced by the club that James will miss two weeks with lingering back and knee issues.
With James out, there is the usual Cleveland doom and gloom in the air, with people feeling the dream season they envisioned for the wine and gold is slowly slipping away.
First of all, remember that even with LeBron on the sidelines, the Cavs still have two all-stars on the court in Kyrie Irving, who is having his best season as a pro, and Kevin Love. It’s not as though they are the Philadelphia 76ers.
This should allow and encourage Love to take more of an aggressive role offensively. So far, the former Timberwolf has seen to struggle to find his niche with Cleveland, so this will give him an opportunity to do just that.
Hopefully, it will also make Dion Waiters be more aggressive too, at least in the concept of the offense. Waiters has gone back and forth this season, either shooting too much or not enough. Now, the Cavs need his points and he should try to score more, but not do it in the one on one style he has used too much this season.
In fact, it would be a good opportunity for Blatt to move Waiters back in the starting lineup.
James’ absence could also improve how Blatt’s offensive system flows.
This isn’t to say that LBJ is circumventing the coach’s game plan, rather we think Blatt has moved away from his motion based attack to accommodate the four-time MVP’s ability to take pretty much anyone in the league off the dribble.
Now, without him, perhaps the offense will stay with the passing game more often. We have noticed in several contests that moving the ball gets Cleveland the lead or back into a game, and then the squad reverts to isolation basketball and they have trouble.
The stretch early in the fourth quarter against the Heat was a perfect indication. The Cavs tied the game, then missed nine consecutive field goals, most without running offense, and couldn’t recover.
This is where Blatt can put his stamp on the team. He can go in the locker room tonight and tell this team it doesn’t matter if James is out, there is still plenty of talent on the current roster to continue to win while he is out.
As for James, many have suspected that he hasn’t been healthy since training camp, and this is a good opportunity for him to heal up and come back strong for the rest of the season. And when he does, the coach needs to do a better job managing his minutes.
He shouldn’t be playing more than 35 minutes per game.
It would be nice if the Cavs had the best record in the Eastern Conference right now, but it is more important if they are playing their best ball in March and early April, heading into the playoffs.
We think a lot of fans think the post-season starts in the couple of weeks. We haven’t even reached the halfway point of the season.
If this is the best the Cavs can do, then there is a problem. However, we feel they will get better as the season goes on.