The first week of the NBA season is a time for weird things to happen.
That’s why we aren’t too concerned with the performance of the Cleveland Cavaliers thus far.
Tyronn Lue’s team has struggled out of the gate, losing two of their last three, against a trio of teams expected to be also-rans this season, the Magic, Bulls, and Nets.
If we get to game 15, and the team is 8-7 and still struggling to show any consistency, then we may have some serious questions.
Remember that the Cavaliers have eight new faces on the roster, and three of those players, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, and Isaiah Thomas, have been battling injuries.
Rose might be more important to the team than originally thought. The Cavs opened with two straight wins, but he left the latter of the two victories late with a sprained ankle and hasn’t played since.
In his absence, Lue tried Jose Calderon against Orlando, and as expected, the veteran struggled, particularly on defense.
So, the coach turned to LeBron James at the point, moving Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup. That unit struggled on the defensive end as well, mainly because they struggle to defend the quickness of a traditional point guards.
Rose is supposed to return to the lineup Saturday night against New Orleans, and it will be interesting to see how his presence on the court affects the other players.
Lue has been highly critical of his defense, but last night, Jae Crowder played just 20 minutes, and Tristan Thompson was on the floor for just 22 minutes.
Those two are the wine and gold’s most accomplished defenders, so if Lue wants a defensive presence for his team, it should start by giving these two players more time.
Particularly Crowder, who can shoot the three and stretch the floor on offense.
On the other hand, we said a week ago that with all the new players on the roster, we knew it would take some time for Lue to develop a rotation that works, and that process was set back a week by the absences of Rose and Wade.
Having James miss most of the pre-season with a sprained ankle didn’t help the situation either.
And yes, we know the Cavs are the oldest team in the league, but that number is skewed by the presence of Channing Frye (34), Calderon (36), and Kyle Korver (36). Out of that trio, only Korver figures to get a lot of playing time this season.
If you take Frye and Calderon out of the mix, Cleveland is very similar in age to San Antonio, Golden State, and Houston, the next three teams in this category.
Oh, by the way, those teams are all title contenders, just like the Cavs.
Our point is we don’t want to hear how the defensive problems are due to age. The players getting the bulk of the playing time aren’t or shouldn’t be on their last legs.
We trust Lue to figure this out.
Let’s see what happens when Rose is back and Crowder gets more time on the floor. If the Cavs win the next three games, and look good doing it, these last three games will be forgotten.