Watch the Throne: Cavs Early Season Review
June 19th 2016 was great for many reasons. I was spending father’s day weekend with my closest family members on the beach while LeBron and the Cavs were preparing for the biggest game in franchise history. I have never lost my appetite for anything in life before, but I could not even focus on that fateful Sunday. Bron is my favorite player of all time. Needless to say, my stress levels were Fantasia at a book reading. Long story short, the Cavs did the impossible and defeated the vaunted Warriors in absolutely thrilling fashion 93-89, capping off an historic finals comeback to get Bron his third ring and silence critics around the world. The summer saw Cleveland become the lovable (depending on which team or players you pledge your loyalty) champs, from JR running around any and every town shirtless, to Kevin Love wearing the WWE championship in every picture. With all the Love (no pun intended) and happiness in the air, it would have been accurate in forecasting a championship hangover looming for the blissful Cavs.
Fast forward to mid-November and it has been all but for the defending NBA champions. Championships breed complacency as well as the disease of me. Player’s come back wanting larger roles, or more money because of their accomplishments. Tristan Thompson and JR (albeit it took until two weeks before the season started) received the luxurious contracts they *cough LeBron James cough* thought they deserved. At least they got it, right? But this ring seemed to serve a different feeling to this Cavs squad. Gone are the days of cryptic LeBron tweets about leadership and friendships. Gone are the conversations swirling around if Kevin Love fits on the Cavs. They genuinely seem to be having the time of their lives, thus far translating to the court. The Cavs have looked like the defending champs so far. They are scoring 108.5 points per 100 possessions (6th in the NBA) while only allowing 101.9 points per 100 possessions (good for 11th in the NBA). Chemistry and trust is the glaring difference. Kevin Love’s FG percentage is up and 3-point attempts are down suggesting they are getting him the ball on the block more. Kyrie Irving is looking every bit of the player that LeBron said can win a league MVP at some point in his career. The game has seemingly slowed down for Kyrie, allowing him to make even more ridiculous shots and even more mind-blowing dribbling displays. LeBron has been LeBron. Coasting on some nights until he decides its time to put the game to rest.
No particular moment of the young season has displayed this level of comfort more so than one 4th quarter in particular. Ty Lue unleashed a preposterous closing lineup of Bron, Channing Frye, Iman Shumpert, Jordan McRae and Richard Jefferson. Get this; it worked! That lineup has played 15 minutes together, scoring 125 points per 100 possessions while allowing 94.5 points per 100 possessions. The eye-opening 30.5 net rating would be good for tops in the league! Last season, Kyrie and Love would have made some subtle postgame comments in regards to playing the bench the entire 4th quarter, but not this season. Not these Cavs. Earning a diamond-studded championship ring brings about a certain aura. One team can boast having the crown, and the Cavs are showing that crown fits perfectly upon its head.
I’ll be checking in weekly to cover the 10-2 defending champs coast through the regular season. They have played some tough games against the Raptors (twice) and Hawks, both teams hoping to have some say on the east representative in the finals. The coming week sees Cleveland face the fading Blazers, the Harrison Barnes-led Mavericks (LOL) and then another date with the Joel Embiid’s next Sunday. Y’all be cool.