The Cleveland Cavaliers fired David Blatt on January 22nd with a record of 30-11. This means Tyronn Lue has now been at the helm for roughly six weeks, and the wine and gold have a 14-6 record with him at the helm.
What, if anything has changed?
The most obvious thing is the scoring is up. Cleveland has scored more than 110 points in half of the games with Lue as the head man, while they did the same just nine times in Blatt’s 41 contests as coach.
On the other hand the defense seems to have slipped. The Cavs have allowed more than 100 points in 11 of Lue’s 20 games at the helm, compared to only 17 in the 41 where Blatt was running the show.
Some of that is due to the faster pace the Cavaliers want to play at, but there is no question that the defense, particularly on the perimeter, has taken a step in the wrong direction.
And the other question that needs to be answered is whether or not Cleveland is better off playing faster. Based on the won-lost record, the answer appears to be no.
The one thing that we thought Lue wanted to change with this team was some toughness, making the players accountable for what occurred on a game by game basis.
That is still a work in progress.
In the last couple of weeks, we have seen Kyrie Irving remove himself from a game due to a bout with bedbugs in an Oklahoma City hotel, a deplorable effort without LeBron James on the road against Washington, and several players complaining about the need for “an enforcer”.
This has to drive Lue insane.
The odd thing about the Irving issue was the team did rally and despite having only eight players available scored a huge win over the Thunder, one of the league’s best teams.
But it doesn’t say a lot for Irving’s toughness that he took himself out, especially with Mo Williams out with a knee issue and Matthew Dellavedova on a minutes restriction due to a balky hamstring.
Put this together with Irving’s seemingly indifference on the defensive end, and you have a problem for the head coach and the organization.
It didn’t help with the giant egg laid against the Wizards. Let’s face it, even without James on the floor, Cleveland has two “max” players in Irving and Kevin Love, so to get blown out is inexcusable.
Particularly when the effort seemed to be lacking, something JR Smith addressed to the media after the game.
However, the weirdest issue is the players bringing up the loss of Kendrick Perkins in the off-season, someone who barely played when he was here.
That made us sit back and think the players need to just shut up and play. They seem to be worried about things that could and have gone wrong, rather than having the mindset that they are very talented and should be able to win a title.
The team did take a positive step on Saturday when they fell behind against Boston early, but then overcame the deficit to win the game going away, and against a quality opponent.
Maybe this could be the thing that pulls this team together and pulling in the right direction.
On the other hand, someone might get a hangnail tonight, and the wine and gold will focus on that.