Cleveland Cavaliers Piecing Things Together

Nov 22, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) blocks a shot by Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 22, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love (0) blocks a shot by Toronto Raptors forward Amir Johnson (15) in the second quarter at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports /

To say the Cleveland Cavaliers have had a rough start to their season is a major understatement. After losing games they should have won and things simply not coming together right, the Cavs are back to .500 and looking improved.

After a dramatic offseason that produced one of the best teams in the league on paper, the Cavaliers responded to high expectations by playing extremely poor at times, perhaps leaving some fans in doubt whether LeBron James could truly bring an NBA championship back to Cleveland.

Anyone thinking that got way ahead of themselves, as the Cavs are pushing all the B.S. to the side and just playing.

After a four-game winning streak that saw the Cavs post at least 110 points each game, they followed that up with a four-game losing streak, scoring 100 points zero times.

Cleveland’s season seemed to hit an all-time low at this point, with seemingly everyone freaking out, wondering if the Cavs were really what we thought they could be. Twelve games into an 82-game regular season, we all started questioning the Cavs already.

Two games later, with two more wins, all those questions are being pushed aside … for now.

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Cleveland’s major problems all season have been sharing the ball and defending. With so much talent on one team, the ball can stick at times. As the Spurs showed last season, moving the ball can take you a long way, and as James saw San Antonio’s beautiful offense first-hand, you would expect him to preach passing.

The ball stuck early on, but it is moving much more now.

Defensively, the Cavaliers have looked much better the past two games. Against the hapless Magic, the Cavs held Orlando to just 74 points, and in the following game, they gave up only 87 points to the Washington Wizards.

Kyrie Irving specifically looked improved against Washington, holding All-Star John Wall to only six points (2-of-6 shooting), seven assists, and five turnovers. The Cavs as a team forced Washington to cough the ball up 18 times, leading to 24 points on the other end.

Who would have known playing strong defensively could benefit you offensively?

Kevin Love not fitting in was becoming evident, but he has looked much more involved in the last three games, averaging 18.7 points and 6.7 rebounds on 54 percent shooting.

Irving has been spectacular offensively the whole season, really, and has continued that play as of late. Irving has been a scoring threat along with a facilitator, recording less than four assists only three times in the month of November.

To finish off specifics on the “Big 3,” LeBron has been what he needs to be for this team the last two games: a leader. Entering the season with a young, inexperienced squad, James wanted to become more of a leader. For him, this meant playing more passive and passing the ball.

What he forgot was that he can still move the ball a fair amount when just playing his normal game. He’s recording more assists than Irving, having no less than four in every game this season and 10 or more in three games. James needed to lead by example, playing like the four-time MVP, two-time NBA champion he is.

In doing so, James has recorded stat lines of 29-10-8 and 29-4-11 in Cleveland’s recent wins over Orlando and Washington. So no, James hasn’t lost a step in his return to Cleveland.

While the “Big 3” has done well recently, the players surrounding them may be holding the Cavs back. Anderson Varejao has been great down low, but Shawn Marion–even with the experience he brings to the starting unit–has been rather absent offensively.

Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, both coming off the bench, played 30 minutes against Washington and have been the only consistent faces in the second unit.

Joe Harris and Will Cherry have gotten limited time recently with Matthew Dellavedova out, but Mike Miller is seemingly out of David Blatt’s rotation, Lou Amundson has all of the sudden gotten time recently, and James still has no solidified backup.

Rotations and playing time might be a problem for this team all season long unless they decided to make a trade to fill the holes in the second unit.

As the Cavs have already shown this season, we can’t really trust this team when they win. Even after stringing a few victories together, they could go drop a few in a row the following week. They do looked improved, though, but we should probably give it some time before making any more judgments.

There is no telling how good this Cavs team can be, meaning there is no point in comparing them to the 2010-11 Heat right now. They have 68 games left to play this season. As Aaron Rodgers said best, “R-E-L-A-X”.

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