With LeBron James back in Cleveland paired with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, the Cavaliers will be the heavy favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference next season. The top contenders play in the West though, so the question becomes does Cleveland have enough in year one to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
In James’ first year in Miami, the Heat lost in six games in the Finals to the Dallas Mavericks. Those were James’ pre-championship years.He now comes back home to Cleveland a two-time champion, already establishing himself as one of the top 10 greatest players in history. James’ vision for the franchise is not about winning five, six, seven or eight titles as it was in Miami – for Cleveland, he just wants one.
Will James and his new teammates win the title next season? We asked a few of our staff writers for the answer.
Phil Watson, Assistant Editor, @FurtherReview
No. I think, much like it did for the Big 3 in Miami, it will take a season for this Cavaliers team to get comfortable with one another. Outside of international play, Love has never played with superstar teammates and neither has Irving, so there will be some growing pains necessary. Much like the Heat in 2010-11, the Cavs could get out of the East on sheer talent, but might be a year away from challenging the best from the West.
Shane Young, Staff Writer, @YoungNBA
Nope, hang up those hopes. With Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, LeBron’s hometown gang automatically propels to the top of regular-season dominance. However, why should they be considered Finals favorites, when three members of the starting lineup (Love, Irving, Waiters) have never burned an ounce of sweat in the playoffs before?
There’s probably a 60-80 percent chance they’re ready — based off talent and offensive power alone — to reach the Finals from the East, but San Antonio, Oklahoma City, and even cohesive, defensive teams (Memphis) would fare well against them. Until Love answers the call and discredits his reputation of being a sad defender, the optimisim needs to be limited.
Placing huge expectations on this team is what will fuel the backlash if it doesn’t work out. Familiar, isn’t it?
Chris Reichert, Staff Writer, @Chris_Reichert
Well, if this is Cleveland vs. The Field then I’ll take the latter. However, this wouldn’t be unprecedented and really it hasn’t been that long since it happened.
Think 2006-07 Boston Celtics — they were a paltry 24-58, added two big pieces in Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and in 2007-08 went 66-16 and took home the championship. Connect the dots and it could certainly happen for Cleveland but they’re still Cleveland so I still doubt them.
They went 33-49 in 2013-14 and added the best all-around player in the world and a 25-year-old stud power forward in Kevin Love, so I think their chances a pretty damn good and it makes for an amazing story; however, I still think they need this first year to gel and get that chemistry before rattling off two or three in a row after that.
Gerald Bourguet, Assistant Editor, @GeraldBourguet
You know the saying: Cleveland wasn’t built in a day. It wasn’t built in 50 years either, which is the last time a professional sports team from Cleveland won a championship.
The saying goes something like that, but you get the point. While adding LeBron James, Kevin Love, Shawn Marion, Mike Miller and James Jones over the course of one summer obviously launches them into title contention in Year 1, don’t forget the Miami Heatles couldn’t get it done in their first season together, either.
The Eastern Conference is still relatively barren so a Finals appearance seems realistic, but even with such a high-powered offense I don’t see them beating whoever comes out of the West.