Sometimes, we think Cleveland doesn’t know how to handle it if one of their teams wins.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are proof of just that.
The wine and gold just finished their longest trip of the season, a six game trek in which they won five of the games, yet all anyone wants to talk about is the one they lost, at San Antonio, one of the NBA’s best teams, by four points.
That’s right, four points.
They lost to Golden State, the league’s darlings right now, in Oakland, by six points.
Both losses to these elite teams were by under ten points. And remember, the Cavs defeated Oklahoma City at home by four, without Kyrie Irving.
After the Spurs lost, the media and fans alike started with the age old remedies for the Cavaliers’ “struggles”, such as the coaching of David Blatt, and the play of Kevin Love.
We said this all last season. Whenever Cleveland loses, you can be sure that either Blatt or Love or both will be blamed.
It’s really ridiculous.
First of all, the Cavaliers have the best record in the Eastern Conference by four games over Toronto, and yet have played the least amount of home games of any East contender.
Cleveland has played 16 contests at Quicken Loans Arena. The other teams in the elite four, the Warriors, Spurs, and Thunder, have played 19, 23, and 24 at their arenas, respectively.
We wonder what the records will be when the home/road splits even up for the top four squads in the NBA.
And what would people say if the Cavs had played Golden State and San Antonio at The Q first and won both games, and then lost on the road? We don’t know if David Blatt’s crew will beat either in Cleveland, but what would be the narrative if they had or will?
And let’s remember that outside of the top three teams in the West, so can make a pretty good argument that the East is tougher top to bottom.
As for the criticisms of Blatt and Love, it is getting to be a tired cliche.
Yes, the Cavs sometimes go away from the ball movement they use when they play so well, and it shows up against good teams. However, we don’t believe Blatt tells them to play isolation basketball. It’s the confidence that LeBron James and Kyrie Irving have in their own ability.
Games like Thursday night should remind the team’s two best players they need to move the ball.
Also, the key to playing Golden State is to control the tempo, and the isolation game helps in that regard. So, you will see more of it tomorrow night than you would like, to be sure.
What Blatt and his staff have done is make the Cavs an excellent defensive team. Cleveland ranks second in points allowed and 11th in defensive field goal percentage.
As for Love, he is never going to average the 24 points per game he did in Minnesota with the Cavs. Up north, he was the number one scoring option.
He does average 17.6 points and almost 12 rebounds per night. Is he a great defender? No. But, we will freely admit he can’t stop Tim Duncan near the basket. So, the Cavaliers will have to defend that differently the next time they play the Spurs.
The one thing we will criticize Love for is his shot seems flat right now. He missed several good looks against the Spurs, and for the Cavs to win games like that, they need the former UCLA standout to make open shots.
He has three months to get that straightened out.
Remember, last year at this time, the Cavs were 20-21, and remade their roster with the deals for JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov.
The point is there is a long way to go for Blatt and his staff to correct the things that need to be smoothed out before the playoffs.
Until then, enjoy the regular season, and stop panicking every time the wine and gold lose a game.