Something isn’t clicking for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and as much as they’d like to believe that the regular season doesn’t mean anything, the problems they’re having which are a lot bigger than just the social media presence and behavior of LeBron James, with plenty of Kyrie Irving (but not him alone) falling into the blame pit too.
The Cavaliers lost 104-95 to the Brooklyn Nets, making it 21-10 since Tyronn Lue took over for David Blatt, who was 30-11 when he got fired. They said the locker room was happier and the basketball will be better, but the Cavaliers keep falling in games they shouldn’t be, even against teams that are nowhere near the postseason. The offense gets stuck too many times despite the talent and the defense falls asleep and shows zero intensity. With historic teams like the Warriors and Spurs on the other end of the Mississippi river while the Toronto Raptors are just behind, even the annual James taking it up a notch in the postseason isn’t enough to make the Cavaliers feel confident anymore.
James had a very good game with 30 points and 13-for-16 from the field. But he didn’t take a single shot in the fourth quarter, blaming himself for the loss. The Cavaliers trailed for almost the entire game, grabbing a four-point lead early in the fourth before going six minutes without scoring a single point as the Nets ran away with the game. Kyrie Irving finished with 6-for-22 from the field. Lue, who reportedly was angry at James for some of his actions last week which has resulted in James doing better on the floor, said that the Cavs problems right now are a lot more about other players than James. LeBron didn’t hide how unhappy he was with his teammates performance, and his.
Personally, I’ve maintained that the key to the Cavaliers success this season has more to do with Irving than James. Getting hot early and getting the defense to focus on him will open so many things for a unique passer like James, while opening up shots for Kevin Love (11 points, 0-for-5 from three) and the others. But there seems to be very little connection between James and Irving on the court. After every Cavaliers loss (already 21 of them this season) rumors keep popping up about how unhappy James is with what’s going on and specifically with Irving. Maybe it’s true, maybe it’s nothing, but Cleveland looked like a team that hasn’t learned anything from what hasn’t worked for them this season.
James can go for 30 points and more every night. He’ll do more in the playoffs if he has to. But the Cavaliers aren’t winning anything that way and who knows, maybe not even getting past a Miami Heat or Raptors team in the postseason that way. It’s on James too, who sometimes takes too much on himself before being left with nothing in the lungs for the fourth quarter. But the Cavaliers too many times don’t play like a team. Sometimes the hustle from Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson saves them or gives them an extra push. Sometimes it looks bad, as if the players don’t care anymore, like it did in the loss to the Nets.