Looks like the rest is turning into rust.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a slump for the second time this season and questions are rising as to whether they should be worried about retaining their NBA Championship. The Cavaliers have not been great on defense this season, but have now resulted to being putrid on that end of the floor. March has been a rough month for the Cavaliers, similar to January where they’ve shown a lack of defense. Giving up 110.8 points per game in a month coupled with averaging 11 turnovers per game is not a recipe for success, it’s just bad basketball. The Cavaliers have now fallen to No.2 seed, and have displayed a lack of effort, resulting in their skid. With the pressure mounting to repeat as champions, are the Cavaliers in panic mode? Let’s discuss.
On last night’s episode of Monday Night Basketball, the Cavaliers were dismantled by the San Antonio Spurs 103-74. The end all result is the Cavaliers falling to the No.2 seed for the first time since the Nov. 2015. LeBron James was recently noted on the record as not caring about playoff seeding, but being on a losing skid like this one is something to worry about. Since the all-star break, the Cavaliers are 8-10 and have lost four of their last six games including being blown out twice. As James was informed that the Boston Celtics are now the No.1 seed in the Eastern Conference, James would simply reply “that’s fine”. Cavaliers Head Coach Tyronn Lue commented on plans to change the defense via Cleveland.com; “We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defense until we get there and then we will see what happens.” Maybe looking terrible to build propaganda is a part of the plan, we’ll have to see.
With “going small” in lineups being the norm in the NBA recently, the Cavaliers decided to go big, but this move has backfired because of their defense. The Cavaliers made moves to improve their image as being a “big man” team by acquiring Andrew Bogut, Larry Sanders and Deron Williams, but they have not made the impact that was originally expected. Bogut broke his leg, Sanders has just played four minutes in two games, and Williams has scored 7.2 points per game, okay as a reserve, but not great. All in all, the Cavaliers have gone “big” but they have also gone “soft”. Their overall defensive rating this season (a combination of all defensive statistics) is 22nd out of 30 via basketball-reference.com, whereas last season their rank was 10th of 30. What’s wrong with the Cavaliers? It would be offensive to say anything else but their defense.
Let’s be honest, being the No.2 seed in the Eastern Conference is not a terrible feat, it’s not like they’re below .500. So it is fair to say that the Cavaliers are not in panic mode, they’re just in a rut. But when you’re the team led by the “best player on the planet,” nothing but greatness is expected. Coach Lue has even considered resting his stars for the remainder of the regular season, keying in on the idea that seeding is not important to the Cavaliers. But personally, too much rest has created rust around the Cavaliers, but too each is own. Contrary to popular belief, teams led by James have done favorably better when being the underdog. As the No.2 seed in the 2012 playoffs, he captured his first championship with the Miami Heat, and most recently captured his third championship over the defending champion Golden State Warriors. It’s been said many times that you don’t worry about LeBron James until May and June, let’s see if that notion holds true as the regular season is coming to an end.