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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Cavaliers’ Struggles Aren’t a Flash in the Pan

Lebron+James.

Lebron James.

The Cleveland Cavaliers were long touted as the leaders of the East. Even after the trade with Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving, people looked upon the Cleveland Cavaliers as the clear front runners of the Eastern Conference. So, now that we’re looking at their now intriguing 5-6 record, is this something that should evoke any real concern? Certainly. There is no question that they have dug themselves in a quagmire that highlights their deficiencies.

In terms of their offense, the Cavaliers are still elite. Ranking fifth in the NBA for offense, they aren’t exactly struggling. But the depth of offensive rating is actually very shallow. Look at it this way: There are only three players on the Cavaliers that average over 10. This speaks to the weight the scoring has on those three. Yet, only one of them eclipse 20 points, that being Lebron James.

Their offensive rating is being perverted by the stats. The truth is that James is carrying everything with all his might and no one is really helping. Kevin Love is averaging 17 points per game, which is nice, but when Irving was in Cleveland last year putting up 25 points per game and Love averaging the same 17, it begs the question: will Love step up? The offense is also extraordinarily stagnant. They do not move the ball. It’s James first, second, and third. As much as the fans love watching him score 57 point per game, it isn’t a sustainable strategy.

Whether the offense regresses or not isn’t the issue: it’s the defense. They aren’t in mediocrity like last year; they are dead last in defensive rating. That’s right. They are worse at guarding than the Brooklyn Nets, the Philadelphia 76ers, and even the Los Angeles Lakers—notorious in leaving the lane wide open. James and company cannot stop the ball from going in their own basket to save their lives.

For example, the Boston Celtics and Jabari Bird, the worst defender on the best defense team in the league. His defensive rating is an average 106. Now, compare it to the best defender on the Cavaliers, or rather, the one with the highest defensive rating. Surprisingly, it’s the newly acquired Ante Zizic who ironically came from the Celtics. His team-leading defensive rating is at 109 which is considered putrid. There is a three-point discrepancy between the best defense’s worst player and the worst defense’s best player. That is horrendous to say the least. James can no longer guard at the highest level consistently and the coaching gives them the most average instructions with no emphasis on switching.

One can certainly argue that this is a small sample size. While true, the trends are culminating in a way that raises all types of alarms. They had the same issues last year but weren’t deterred from the Finals because of Irving and James. Now, James is a year older and the coaching staff is as inefficient as ever. The Cleveland Cavaliers need to fire Tyronne Lue and understand that they are headed towards a mire that they won’t be able to climb out of.