Gino Spadaro: May 10, 2017
We’ve all heard the saying “Things get worse before they get better,” well… that saying stands very true when talking about the Cleveland Cavaliers.
In all three years since the return of LeBron James, the Cavs have, at some point or another, faced struggles in the regular season, causing doubt among fans and analyst whether or not they have what it takes to win a title. But along with these struggles, each and every year, the Cavs have answered the bell and flipped the switch when it came time for the playoffs. In 2014, LeBron James looked as if old age was catching up to him. The Cavs started the year off 5-7, and then LeBron took two weeks off to rest, resulting in more struggles. Eventually, the Cavs acquired Shumpert, J.R., and Mozgov, and finished the season strong, devastating opponents on their way to the NBA finals. In 2015-2016, the Cavs battled issues off the court, such as rumors that the team wasn’t getting along and that LeBron and David Blatt weren’t seeing eye to eye. Despite these issues, the Cavs went into January with the Eastern Conference’s best record, and then suddenly fired their head coach, David Blatt, bumping Tye Lue to the HC position. The Cavs went on to finish the year as the 1-seed, and we all know what happened in the post season.
This year looks like much of the same. The Cavs faced a ton of bumps in the road this year throughout the regular season. Injuries plagued the Cavs for much of the season, not allowing them to play together as a full unit for the first time until the very end of the season. The Cavs had three separate months of combined losing records. In January they went 7-8, in March they went 7-10, and in April they went 3-4. Chemistry issues and defense seemed to be their biggest problem. According to basketball-reference.com, the Cavs allowed their opponents to score 107.2 PPG on 46% shooting while only scoring 110.3 PPG and shooting 47%. So just as the past two seasons, the mediocre performances that the Cavs were putting on display left the fans and analyst with one question, can they flip the switch when the playoffs come? It was looking more and more ugly for them, as the playoffs drew closer and closer and they showed no signs of improvement, unlike the last two seasons. But all of the sudden, as soon as the playoffs start, the Cavs we have been waiting for have shown up.
As of right now, Cleveland is 8-0 in the playoffs, which is the second consecutive year they have done so, making them the first team in NBA history to accomplish this feat. They not only swept the Indiana Pacers, but the Cavs also embarrassed the Toronto Raptors, who many people thought would give them some issues. In these eight games, LeBron James has been nothing short of sensational. As marked down by basketball-reference.com, LeBron is averaging 34.3 PPG-9.0 RPG-7.3 APG, which is one of his best post seasons of his career. Along with LBJ, the whole team has been on fire, averaging close to 115 PPG and shooting around 50% both from the field and from the 3-point line. The Cavs defense has also vastly improved. Although the Cavs struggled with limiting Indiana’s Paul George, they shut down Toronto’s two stars, Derozan and Lowry, with much help from J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert.
The Cavs have left their opponents in shock this postseason. Shooting the lights out from everywhere, and playing great defense. They are firing on all cylinders right now, especially LeBron, who is shooting close to 50% from three. When they’re playing this well, they seem unstoppable, which poses the question of if they will even lose a game in the Eastern Conference. At the end of the day though, they answered the biggest question many of us had. The Cavs can flip the switch, and this postseason they have given us every reason to believe they can repeat as NBA Champions.