Since the beginning of the calendar year, the Cleveland Cavaliers seem to have been beset by injuries, which makes people nervous about the prospect to repeating as NBA champions.
It started with JR Smith’s thumb, which has him out until what looks like the middle of March. The question with this malady is will Smith have enough time to round back into shape, more of that meaning will his outside shooting be up to standard come playoff time in the middle of April.
Smith’s shooting and defense were of tremendous importance in the run to the title a year ago, so the seriousness of this injuries cannot be understated.
Then came the Kevin Love situation. First it was his back, which caused him to miss a few games, and now comes the revelation that the all-star forward has some knee problems, and it would not be surprising if he needs to miss about 3-4 weeks of action, which would put him out until the middle of March too.
And we haven’t even mentioned Iman Shumpert’s sprained ankle, which has put him out for a week, and at this point, it would be in the Cavs’ best interest to keep the guard out of action until after the All Star break.
With these injuries to key players, it is kind of amazing the wine and gold are still sitting at 37-16 and with the best record in the Eastern Conference by two games over Boston.
While no injuries are timely, these comes at a particularly bad time because the schedule is very heavy with road games in March.
After a road game tonight and a game vs. Indiana at The Q tomorrow, the Cavaliers start the post break slate with three home games.
Then, starting on March 1st, seven of the next eight games are on the road, and included in that span are games against Boston, Atlanta, Houston, and a home/road back to back against Miami.
It doesn’t get any easier after that. Following two home games against Detroit and Utah, Tyronn Lue’s squad goes back out west for games with the Clippers, Lakers, and Nuggets, then stopping in Charlotte before heading home.
At the very least, that portion of the trip could be concerned with getting Love and Smith back in the groove for the playoffs.
Besides all of the schedule and injury problems, remember that the trading deadline takes place next week, and it wouldn’t be a shock if GM David Griffin makes some sort of a move at the deadline to bolster the Cavs for the stretch run.
That puts Lue squarely in the middle as the guy who has to bring this all together, and he needs to do it while still winning games.
Over the past three years, and we include the year David Blatt was in charge, the Cavs have done a great job integrating new players into their culture, a tribute to both the coaching staff and the team’s leader, LeBron James.
Look at how quickly Derrick Williams has seemed to fit in being here not even a week.
Tristan Thompson summed it up the other night when he said the Cavaliers bring in guys who do one thing really well, and allow them to do what they do best.
The biggest thing is getting everyone in full gear when the playoffs start in the middle of April.
There isn’t any evidence to suggest this organization can’t do just that.