LeBron James came out and declared, to anyone listening, that his Cleveland Cavaliers are ready to make a championship run in the playoffs.
“I feel like we’re ready to make a championship run,” James said Saturday morning, ahead of Cleveland’s shootaround at Madison Square Garden in preparation to play the Knicks. “I’m confident in this team and I know we can make a championship run, and that’s all you can ask for.”
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the more intriguing storylines to watch unfold this season. Following last season’s ‘run’ to the NBA Finals, in which they ran out of enough healthy bodies to fight off the Golden State Warriors, the Cav’s reloaded over the summer. However, as this season began to hit it’s second gear, it became apparent all wasn’t right in Cleveland. Head coach David Blatt, midway through this season, was fired despite having the best record (30-11) in the Eastern Conference at the time. The Cav’s replaced Blatt with assistant coach Tyronn Lue, and while they’ve remained at the top of the east, something still seems to be off with this team.
The reason given, by Cleveland’s upper management, for Blatt’s firing was “a lack of fit with our personnel and our vision”. Well, that’s half right.
Personnel, along with a consistent struggle to get on the same page, have definitely been issues for the Cavaliers this season. Blatt was the logical fall guy for those problems, but if Cleveland again falls short of their goal to win a championship it won’t be Blatt’s name to kick around anymore as an excuse.
Are they hungry enough? There have been times this season where the Cavaliers appear to be sleepwalking through games, almost as if there’s a magical potion which will help them wake up in time for the playoffs.
Heading into Saturday’s game, against the Knicks, LeBron James is averaging nearly 30 points per game this week. The effort from James doesn’t seem to be the problem, it’s the effort and mindset of his teammates which recently came into question again. Do Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love want to win as badly as James does? It doesn’t always seem that way. Not when, with ten games left in the regular season, the Cavaliers lose badly to the Brooklyn Nets, one of the league’s worst teams. That’s right, the personnel; pretty much the same personnel Cleveland noted wasn’t the right fit with David Blatt.
James has reached the NBA Finals each of the last five years, he’s more than qualified to speak on what it takes to be ready for a championship run. However, this Cleveland Cavaliers team appears alarmingly short on what it takes to finish the race.
But wait, there’s more…
There needs to be an all points bulletin for Dwight Howard’s missing offensive game. While the Houston Rockets are relying heavily on James Harden to keep their playoff hopes alive, the countdown to this summer’s free agent soap opera continues to tick away. The latest in rumors has Howard reportedly interested in a return to the Orlando Magic, the team Howard arguably should have been in such a hurry to leave in the first place. When it comes to free agency and Howard — anything’s possible.
Robert Griffin III finally gets his chance at reviving his NFL career, the quarterback has signed a two-year deal with the Cleveland Browns. RG3 is a long way from the rookie who exploded onto the NFL scene with the Washington Redskins, he’s gone through adversity, a good part of that was self-inflicted. While Cleveland has not been the destination that turns heads for the right reasons, the hiring of Hue Jackson as head coach is a step in the right direction. If Griffin can soak up the knowledge Jackson brings to the table, it’ll only help his development as a quarterback which was stunted during his time with the Redskins.