The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the NBA’s hottest teams over the last two months, winning 23 of their last 28 games.
However, they may not have had a better week in that span than this one, as they blew out perennial playoff team, the Dallas Mavericks and then beat the defending champion San Antonio Spurs both in their respective buildings, in a three-day span.
The Cavs are now two games in front of both Chicago for the division lead and a top three seed in the East, and also two games in front of Toronto for the second seed in the conference with only 15 games remaining.
Yet, the question most local media types have is about David Blatt, the first year (don’t want to get on his bad side) NBA coach, but the veteran of the professional basketball wars overseas.
The local media is always asking the national media if Blatt will be a liability come playoff time.
Our comment is we will have to wait and see, but many NBA title teams have been piloted by guys we don’t believe are great coaches.
Heck, Erik Spoelstra won 43 and 47 games in his first two seasons as a head coach with Dwyane Wade, but when LeBron James and Chris Bosh showed up, his lowest winning percentage was .659 and he was at the helm for two champions.
James is in Cleveland now, and Bosh is out of the season, and Miami’s record is 29-36.
Our point is that Spoelstra isn’t really a difference maker as a coach, but only 13 men have coached two NBA title teams and he is one of them.
It is more about the talent on the roster, and no one can debate the Cavaliers have a very talented team.
We can’t judge Blatt until the playoffs because in our opinion, because the NBA regular season is so long, coaches have to concentrate mostly on their teams do best.
Yes, they do make some adjustments based on the scouting reports for that night’s opponent, but mostly they are focusing on what they do well. For example, the Cavs like to get up and down the floor quick and not be forced to settle into a half-court game.
The playoffs, though, are different, because coaches are faced with the challenge of playing the same team a possibility of seven times in a row.
That familiarity allows them to game plan against what the opponent does well. And seeing what happens in each game and taking that away, and on the other hand, coming up with an alternative when the other team takes what you did well in the previous game away.
That’s the essence of coaching, game planning, and scheming.
Unfortunately, we won’t know how Blatt makes these tweaks from game to game until we get to that point. His reputation is that he does this very well, and has had very good success in the playoff series in Europe.
While he gets criticized for some odd lineups, particularly at the end of games, it shows that he is willing to try some different things to win games. It could be that he is looking down the road to see what works and what won’t work in the post-season.
Until then, he should get a lot of credit for incorporating three new players that arrived in the middle of January, and getting them to gel this quickly.
The Cavs have won a lot since the deals, and all three of the newest Cavs (J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mosgov) are key contributors in making the wine and gold one of the best teams in the East.
When the playoff start, here’s hoping the new NBA coach can erase all the remaining questions.
And then several NBA teams will start looking to the European leagues for new coaches.