Doom and gloom surrounds the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Click on any link and you’ll hear a negative story about what the Cavaliers are currently going through. LeBron James has no idea whether Tyronn Lue will survive this, which sounds strange since it’s common knowledge that his influence put him in charge in the first place after predecessor David Blatt was deemed to be in over his head.
Despite getting Isaiah Thomas healthy, the Cavs are an absolute disaster. All positive momentum that was expected to be garnered by getting the primary piece in the Kyrie Irving deal into the lineup never materialized. Tristan Thompson returning also had no impact. In fact, he’s reportedly on the trading block and the word is that him becoming a distraction due to his connection with Khloe Kardashian has been an issue the team hadn’t envisioned dealing with.
There is certainly a lot to be concerned with if you’re a Cavaliers fan. LeBron James won’t even talk postseason, saying that if the playoffs began today, he wouldn’t be surprised if the Cavs were bounced in the first half. Despite finally being healthy, Cleveland looks brutal despite remaining a 1-to-2 favorite to win the Eastern Conference, trailing only the heavily favored Warriors (5/12) as the most likely to win the title per the Westgate Superbook, coming in at 9-to-2.
Since Thomas got heathy to open 2018, the Cavs have gone 3-6 straight up, failing to cover in all nine contests. Oklahoma City came into Quicken Loans Arena and pulled off a 148-124 win, one of the most ridiculous results in NBA history. Thomas had no prayer of staying in front of Westbrook, which put the defense in a vulnerable position all afternoon. Privately, James is said to have told confidants that he’s worried his team can’t snap out of this.
Cryptic tweets have already made the rounds throughout social media, adding to the intrigue.
Dwyane Wade tweeted: “Look in the mirror and you’ll get all the answers you need.”
Isaiah Thomas dropped these two gems: “The best players/Teams have the shortest memory whether GOOD or BAD! They say it can’t storm forever. We will get it right!”
He might be right there, but the marathon means the trade deadline won’t come until after the Super Bowl, which guarantees that major dominoes will fall and things won’t look as they do today. The Cavs need major help and are said to have made Thomas available via trade.
The Cavaliers rank fifth in the NBA in scoring at 109.7 points per game, but come in at 26th of 30 in points allowed at 109.5 per game. After starts of 3-5 and 5-7, they bounced back to win 13 consecutive games, then 18 of 19. Since Christmas Day, they’re 4-10.
They’ve put themselves in a spot where Blatt, coaching the Turkish All-Star Game, took a shot, quipping that “I hope we don’t give up as many points as the Cavaliers gave up last night.”
Lue has to know his seat is warm, but he’s going to make someone come in and fire him, taking little responsibility for what has transpired.
“It’s the same group we won 18 out of 19 with also,” Lue said. “We’ve just got to play better. We’ve got to play better, we’ve got to be sharper and that’s what we continue to keep working on. It’s the same team that won 18 out of 19 and 13 in a row.”
Thomas (hip), Tristan Thompson (calf) and Derrick Rose (ankle), are all back in the lineup, but it’s worth wondering whether their absence wasn’t a reason why the Cavs took off given the struggles all three have faced.
The point guard spot was being filled by Iman Shumpert and then Jose Calderon when Shumpert went down with a knee injury that required arthroscopic surgery. Thomas, Thompson and now Rose have worked their way back into the rotation, but the Cavs have been dreadful with the trio in the mix. Shumpert is trying to work his way back, Crowder has been injured and has shot the ball poorly as a piece expected to step in and offer a ton on the wing next to James. He must improve.
Smith has not produced to his capability at either end of the floor, passing up open looks and struggling to defend to his potential. The Cavs have to get it together, but Lue is the individual with the hottest seat. He’ll have to figure out a way to stabilize his group or risk
We’ll see what transpires from here, but if you’ve settled on a No. 2 in the East, now is the time to try and cash in.