Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron James hits biggest shot of the season


The Cleveland Cavaliers came up victorious in a much-needed morale booster against the Minnesota Timberwolves.  Could this finally be the game that gets the Cavs going for the rest of the season?

Finally, the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in the victory column.

It has been a long, tedious, disappointing [insert negative adjective here] season so far. There are only so many ways you can write about dysfunction before you sound dysfunctional yourself. They’ve suffered the same issues since the season began, and they boil down to effort and defense.

Anybody who knows basketball understands that the Cavaliers are too talented to have these nightly struggles. It just makes no sense why they play down to the competition or get blown out like a team in a rebuilding phase.

That isn’t the worst of it.

Every single day since the 2017-18 NBA season started, media outlets, touted sports writers, networks, etc. have tried to predict where LeBron James will go.

I suffered through “The Decision” in 2010.

It wasn’t nearly as chaotic as it is now. What makes it even worse is that these same accredited media outlets and beat writers have a no-doubt-about-it conclusion that James is gone at the end of the season.

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They rarely consider him staying with the team; it’s just an immediate doomsday scenario.

That right there shows me the bias and issue people still have with James in a mid-market like Cleveland, and not in a bigger one like Los Angeles or Houston.

ESPN‘s Chris Haynes wrote an article stating that at the end of the season, James would consider sitting down with the Golden State Warriors and signing with them. The next day with USA Today and other outlets, James said the story by Haynes was “nonsense” and a “non-story.”

He even told the media not to ask any more questions on his pending free agency. But we all know that will fall on deaf ears. But that’s still not the worst.

It’s gotten so bad, after the Cavs got embarrassed  by the lowly Orlando Magic on Tuesday, James had to dispel rumors of him waiving his no-trade-clause to leave the struggling club.

It’s been a circus that doesn’t seem like the tour is going to end anytime soon. Each and every word he says, new narratives are created about him having one foot out the door, or not getting along with his teammates.

However for at least one night, the NBA and Cavaliers fans were able to enjoy a team that didn’t dislike each other, and played together as a unit. It was refreshing to see after getting annihilated by the Houston Rockets on national television and losing by 32 points.

It was a game that didn’t include much defense from either team. Most fans thought they were watching an ABA game from the ’70s with all the offense on display. The Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves made a combined 40 3-point attempts in the game, which is a new NBA record.

That’s incredible, and here I thought the Rockets and Warriors broke that record by a mile in their last meeting.

James also set two new records, which is a nightly thing for the superstar. He is now the Cavaliers’ all-time franchise leader in rebounds with 5,905 boards. This puts him in elite company with Michael Jordan and Kevin Garnett as the only players in league history to lead their respective franchises in points, assists and rebounds.

This milestone is yet another indicator of the impressive career James has had, but the biggest moment of the night was still yet to come.

The game was a back-and-forth shootout between the two clubs. The Cavaliers were still playing their atrocious defense, but it didn’t hinder their offense, and Minnesota was making up for their bad defense with made shots.

Coach Tyronn Lue might have changed the whole outcome of the game by subbing in Cedi Osman — who played a great game on both ends of the floor — for Isaiah Thomas.

Thomas had been less than stellar on the defensive side of the ball so far, and that’s being nice about it. He had just been an all-around bad player since his first two great showings.

Osman’s defense was so good on Butler in the second-to-last possession, it led to James blocking his layup attempt into the crowd. If Thomas or anybody else had been on him, he might of won the game with that attempt. It just shows that a little defense can change the whole outcome of a situation.

Now for the moment.

Jeff Green was the outlet man. Kyle Korver set a screen on Andrew Wiggins, which allowed James to just have to worry about one man. Green passed it to James near the foul line, he grabbed it, faded away and bang — the ballgame was over.

I immediately went back to how I felt during the 2009 NBA Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic, when LeBron banked in the game-winning 3. Obviously, the stakes were a lot higher then, but the victory Wednesday felt like important. It was different.

This was a big “screw you” to all the national media bashing the team on a daily basis and getting a laugh out of it. It showed that James is still the best overall player in the NBA, and even more importantly, it showed that he’s just fine where he’s at in Cleveland.

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The crowd erupted like it was the playoffs, and we’re only in Game 52 in the beginning of February.

It was an amazing sight to see. This result meant everything… if even for just one night.

The question that I seem to find myself asking at the end of every article is: Is this the game where the Cavaliers finally turn it around?  Will this kickstart them to another win streak? After the trade deadline brought in so many new faces, it’s hard to say.

So many unanswered questions and uncertainty within the team. So many fingers are being pointed, even though we all know it’s Kevin Love‘s fault (What? Everybody else is doing it!).

All it takes is for the Cavaliers to look within themselves and put all their petty differences and agendas aside like they did Wednesday night, and win games. When did it start to become more about the drama than the game?

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I don’t have the answer to that, but if the Cavaliers can find the consistency to play like they did Wednesday (only with more defensive pressure), they could get this team back on track and become the dominant team in the East we’ve been expecting.