The Cleveland Cavaliers have hit their first bump of the season, having lost three straight, heading into tonight’s game at Quicken Loans Arena against the Portland Trailblazers.
Two of the losses were by wide margins.
The Wizards came into Cleveland a week ago and never trailed in handing the Cavs their first home loss of the season, and Saturday night, the Miami Heat dominated the wine and gold, who held LeBron James out to get some rest.
The other loss was in overtime to New Orleans, a game the Cavs should have won in regulation, and then ran out of gas in the extra session.
The bigger concern for basketball fans in Cleveland should be that right now, the team seems very tight, they aren’t playing the free flowing game we saw early in the season.
What are the reasons for this? Here are some theories we have.
First, the Cavs seem to have Warrior envy. Everyone is well aware that the defending champions are 22-0 and are the talk of the NBA.
Their start is an NBA record. That means it has never happened before.
Besides the Warriors, do you know how many other teams have better records than David Blatt’s team? One. The Spurs are 17-4.
That means the Cavs have the third best record in the league.
Should they attention to what Golden State is doing? We guess, but outside of the two regular season games between the two teams, the Cavaliers won’t have to face the Warriors until the NBA Finals.
And that will be in June.
The Cavs need to relax and have fun and play their brand of basketball.
The second theory is perhaps some of the players are a little tight because of the impending returns of Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, which will mean some alterations in how playing time is doled out.
Obviously, James and Kevin Love won’t be affected by this, and neither will the other big men like Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao.
But the playing time for the backcourt will definitely be altered.
J.R. Smith will probably get some minutes at small forward, but no doubt Shumpert will cut into his minutes.
And both Mo Williams and Matthew Dellavedova’s time will decline, more likely Williams because the latter can be counted on to be on the floor in the fourth quarter because of his defensive ability.
Perhaps the uncertainty is weighing on these players and they haven’t played as loose as they did earlier in the campaign.
The last theory is the leader’s determination to win a title. LeBron James is very focused and has passed this on to the rest of the team.
No individual pre-game introductions and various team meetings.
It’s okay to have a single mindedness in this regard, but it’s a long season and the players need to have some fun as well.
Perhaps Blatt can take them bowling again on the next road trip.
Look, there will be plenty of time for the Cavaliers to put their nose to the grindstone, but during a six month season, you have to have some fun as well.
This is a very talented basketball team. They just need to relax and play and the victories will start to come again.