The Cleveland Cavaliers created the latest version of the NBA Super Team this past offseason when they signed free agent LeBron James, re-signed Kyrie Irving to a max extension, and traded Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love. While most experts, and LeBron James himself, preached patience, most fans of the team were expecting the Cavs to be a fine-tuned machine right out of the gate.
Then came the 1-3 record, which seemed to magnify all of the perceived issues that this team had, even with the Super Team mantra.
They couldn’t play defense.
They couldn’t protect the rim.
Kyrie and LeBron were isolationists.
David Blatt was in over his head, and couldn’t coach in the NBA.
Kevin Love had inflated numbers in Minnesota.
And the list goes on-and-on-and-on.
Yesterday, I preached patience for this Cleveland Cavaliers squad, who entered Saturday Night’s game against the Atlanta Hawks on a three-game winning streak. While they raised their record to above .500 for the first time on the season, the how left as many questions as when they were losing games.
LeBron James had been playing with a passiveness that left many wondering if their returning son was perhaps nursing a bad back, or if the lost weight had somehow sapped his early season endurance. Against the Celtics on Friday night, the Cavs were down by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, and that’s when things changed.
Kyrie Irving, the other #1 pick on this team, told LeBron to “get more aggressive,” and get more aggressive he did. The Cavs roared back in that come-from-behind victory to beat the Celtics 121-120, and while teams were wondering where this team was the first three quarters, were glad to see LeBron attacking the basket again.
Then came the Atlanta game.
The Cavs absolutely tore apart the Hawks in every way possible. LeBron had 32 points, seven assists and six boards. Kyrie had 20 points and five assists. But what really stood out were the team assists. Five players had five or more assists, and the team had 39 assists. This is a far cry from the team that only had six assists in a game against Utah on their recent West Coast trip.
In today’s podcast, Jim Pete pathetically goes it alone, but stands by the #EHC declaration that they’ll pod on a weekly basis…even if Jim has to do it himself.
Join Jim as he talks the Cavs’ perceptions, their win against the Hawks, their big match-up next week, and ends with a quick look at the Browns’ game against Ryan Mallett and the Houston Texans this Sunday.