Cavs Performance So Far
by Farah Sayed and Katie Doherty
Fresh off of an NBA championship, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been the team everyone has had their eye on this year. So far, the Cavs have had some excellent performances. Here is our take on the season so far.
At the beginning of the season, the Lebron James banner hanging downtown was replaced for a facelift. The new banner was identical, except it featured a small golden championship tag at the top of his jersey. The tag adds a new touch that represents his efforts in the NBA championship last June. Continuing on Lebron James’s achievements, he recently passed Tim Hardaway for 15th place on the NBA’s all-time assists list. He also holds a top 10 record for career points and a top 15 record for career assists. Lebron has quickly replaced all of the records held by past Cavaliers and is making a name for himself as one of the “greats of basketball”. He’s being ranked up there with Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Magic Johnson, and for good reason too. While many sports analysis and fans from rival teams (looking at you, Golden State) go on about how overrated he is based on the occasional choke, it’s tough to argue that he simply performs on the court in a way that shouldn’t be humanly possible. He’s bigger than most of his opponents yet moves easily through his defenders. James has averaged a 27.5 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 6.9 steals per game. This is an astounding feat considering how elite some of the other teams in the league are this year. He almost single-handedly took an overmatched Cleveland Cavaliers team to the 2007 NBA finals at just 22 years old, when they hadn’t made an NBA playoffs appearance in 8 years. There are rumors of giving him a lifetime achievement award and he hasn’t even retired yet.
Besides Lebron, other Cavaliers have given us some impressive performances this season. Kevin Love set the record for most points scored in a first quarter in a match against the Portland Trail Blazers. He scored 34 points and a total of 40 in the entire game, accounting for almost a third of the Cavs’ total points. Later, during the most important matchup of the season against the Warriors, the Cavs delivered an amazing performance. The Cavs trailed behind the Warriors for most of the game, but they made a 14 point comeback in the fourth quarter and managed to beat the Warriors by one point, thanks to our star point guard. Kyrie Irving made a last minute shot to give the Cavs an important win against their rivals.
In the recent Cavs v. Warriors game in Oakland, the Cavs suffered a difficult loss, but considering they have been on the road, homesickness and tiredness could have played a role in their below-average performance.With a 7 point deficit in the first two minutes of the game, it was easy to tell right away that this would be a tough game for the cavs. It was the first time that the Warriors had beat the Cavs since Game 4 of the NBA Finals last year. The most controversial play of the game came after Lebron made a fast break and was on his way to the basket when Draymond Green shoulder checked Lebron James and then proceeded to mock James’ fall to the fans in the stand. Green was issued a flagrant foul and the rivalry between the two has intensified.
Although the Cavs have showed some champion-worthy wins, the season has also come with some disappointments. J.R. Smith faced a left knee injury in early December, but recovered and was back out playing soon enough. However, he quickly found himself back on the DL after suffering a devastating injury to his right thumb during the Cavs victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. His injury required surgery and we likely won’t see him back on the court for at least 14 weeks. In addition, Chris Andersen, a new Cavalier playing center/forward, tore his right ACL right around the same time JR was injured, and will not be playing for the rest of the season. The Cav’s coach, Tyronn Lue, has noticed that Kyrie Irving, despite his incredible achievement in the year so far, is “out of rhythm.” In games against Brooklyn and Pheonix his shooting average dropped to a low 0.25. LeBron cites that the whole team is “tired” and could use some practice. It should be noted that the last time our Cavs fell into a losing slump, all it took was one practice to get the team flowing again to win the NBA Finals.
Another pressing issue that has plagued the team since last season is the issue with the officials. Lebron is often guarded very aggressively, many times with the defender drawing a foul. However, against teams known to play dirty (again, looking at you, Golden State) the officials are rarely calling fouls against these defenders. Lebron has also complained about how he believes that he is drawing “numerous unnecessary fouls.” This comes after he picked up his second technical foul of the season while playing the Utah Jazz. Utah’s Shelvin Mack fouled James and put him on the foul line after an “and-1” layup. While James got that call from officials, he was upset from his previous trip down the court, when he felt like Mack fouled him on another layup attempt and there was no whistle. James is just so big that sometimes players just bounce off him, appearing like that didn’t really impede his progress, when in fact they actually did foul him.
On the bright side, Dunleavy and Williams have been traded with the Atlanta Hawks for Kyle Korver, one of the best shooters in the NBA. He is still adjusting to his new team, but he showed a strong performance with 18 points against Sacramento. Kyle Korver could be the Cavs’ “secret” weapon for the rest of the season.
There are less than 130 days from now until Game 1 of the NBA Finals, with the Cavs leading the Eastern Conference, Cleveland has confidence that the Cavs and the Warriors will meet again in June (this would be the first time in NBA history that two teams would face off in three straight NBA Finals). This season has been filled with ups and downs, but with some key victories and some of the best shooters in the NBA on our side, this season will again be one to remember.
Featured Image source: