LeBron James wants us to dismiss the Cavaliers’ early season struggles, and it’s tempting to listen to him. The season is barely two weeks old, and at this stage in his illustrious career, James deserves the benefit of the doubt. But there are some worrisome signs.
The Cavaliers lost their third consecutive game Sunday, falling to the Knicks 114-95. It was a dismal effort for the defending Eastern Conference champions, who allowed Tim Hardaway Jr. to drop 34 points on them. Cleveland has allowed four players to score more than 30 points on them this month, which is the most in the league.
Sunday’s game against the Knicks was also Derrick Rose’s first game in four contests. He started at point guard for the Cavaliers, giving them their fifth starting lineup in seven games. Rose, 29, embodies the Cavaliers’ biggest hurdles to success this season. On the whole, it’s an older and borderline decrepit roster. The possibility remains their play could get worse, thanks to the seemingly inevitable injuries on the horizon. Dwyane Wade, for example, is averaging just 8.2 points per game and shooting 43.1 percent while he’s presumably healthy. One can only imagine how the 35-year-old guard might look once he starts contending with the wear and tear of a long NBA season.
Older reserves Jose Calderon (36) and Channing Frye (34) aren’t offering much in the way of help, either.
It looks like the success of James’ sidekicks will come down to the performances of his two ex-Celtics teammates, Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. Thomas, of course, will be out until at least January with his hip issue. Crowder has only averaged 7.3 points on 6.6 shots per game, perhaps prompting head coach Tyronn Lue to admonish newcomers for being intimidated of James.
“Guys have got to understand that LeBron, he’s a giving person, he’s a giving player,” Lue said, per Cleveland.com. “You’ve got to come in and play your game, and we’ll adjust. I think a lot of times we defer to LeBron, or guys are scared to be aggressive because of that. He’s not that type of player at all, so we’ve got to talk about that on Tuesday: guys being who you are, being aggressive and playing your game.”
Meanwhile, JR Smith, one of James’ most experienced wingmen, finds himself mired in a silly feud with Stephen A. Smith as the team struggles out of the gate. The bombastic ESPN commentator chastised Smith for wearing a hoodie on the bench, foolishly saying it reminds people of Trayvon Martin (like that’s a bad thing). Smith responded Monday with a series of tweets pushing back at Stephen A.
“Didn’t he have his own show before am what happen? Now he gone get kicked off this one too? Guess it’s back to the #DrawingBoard,” Smith tweeted.
There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, but right now, the Celtics are officially better than last year’s squad –– even without Gordon Hayward. At the same time, the Cavaliers appear on the verge of unraveling after a tumultuous offseason.
The power in the Eastern Conference still lies with the Cavaliers until further notice. But it’s shaping up to be a different kind of season. The Celtics are in position to pounce and assert themselves as legitimate contenders before the calendar turns to November.
Full article @ Despondent Cavaliers give Celtics sign that it’s time for new era in Eastern Conference
Source: GreenStreet Blog