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LeBron and the Cavaliers Are Doing Just Fine

The Cleveland Cavaliers were embarrassed against the Washington Wizards last night, but NBA fans shouldn’t be too concerned about the implosion of the defending champs just yet.

By Charles ManiegoPublished 6 years ago 4 min read

Last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers lost to the Washington Wizards, 127–115. In the game, the Wizards scored 71 points in the second half. With the loss, the Cavaliers moved to 47–25 on the season. The Boston Celtics are now 0.5 games behind the Cavaliers in the race for the No. 1 seed. Fire away the “CAVALIERS ARE IN TROUBLE” hot take cannon!

Just kidding. Don’t. The Cleveland Cavaliers are just fine.

Manipulate the stats all you want. The Cavaliers have not been a great defensive team in their most recent stretch. Allowing John Wall to drop 37 points and 11 assists is one thing. But allowing an abysmal offensive team like the Charlotte Hornets to score 105 is another. The Lakers — yes, the Lakers who are currently trying to out-tank the rest of the league — scored 120 points against the Cavaliers. Going further back, Cleveland lost to the Miami Heat two games in a row. The Cavs-Heat may be a potential 1–8 matchup in the playoffs that could brew a major upset, given the Heat’s recent track record against the Cavs.

But I don’t think there’s reason to worry.

The Cavaliers are the most talented team in the Eastern Conference. They have the best player in the entire NBA. I know. Basketball media has already covered the fact that LeBron should be the MVP. We’re just desensitized to his greatness. But it’s true! Against Washington, LeBron literally put the team on his back. He had a casual stat line of 24/11/8, and took charge in the second half when the Wizards looked offensively unstoppable. He also wore some David Ortiz-like goggles. Yet people still are worried that the Cavs may be in danger of being a bust in the playoffs.

Look at the Eastern Conference landscape. From a talent perspective, there is nobody that can contain LeBron enough in a seven-game series. Let’s take a look at the small forward/LeBron stopper candidates in the Eastern Conference:

Boston Celtics — Jae Crowder

Washington Wizards — Otto Porter Jr.

Toronto Raptors — P.J. Tucker

Atlanta Hawks — Thabo Sefolosha

Milwaukee Bucks — Giannis Antetokounmpo

Indiana Pacers — Paul George

Miami Heat — James Johnson

The biggest threat to contain LeBron is Giannis. Some players are not bulky enough to guard LeBron, while others are too slow to guard him on the pick and roll. Giannis is long enough and quick enough defensively to at least deter King James from being his usual self. But it may be unlikely that the Bucks even make it to face LeBron. Milwaukee currently holds the number six seed in the Eastern Conference. They would have to beat the Wizards (or Raptors) in the first round. With the way the Wizards have played recently, the play of one Greek Freak may not overcome John Wall and his deadly playmaking ability.

Alright. Enough with the LeBron love. The Cavaliers have as good a starting lineup as anyone in the league. Kyrie Irving (although he shot an inefficient 8-of-23 against the Wizards) still can roast defenders off the dribble. That includes John Wall. Irving is having a great March, averaging over 30 points per game prior to the Wizards matchup. Irving also has the clutch gene — he can take over at will with his ability to penetrate and finish freaky around the rim.

Kevin Love is back too! After his Valentine’s Day surgery (Love hurts sometimes), the Cavs’ starting power forward is still getting back into rhythm. Prior to his injury, he was having his best season as a Cavalier — averaging 19.5 points and grabbing 11.1 rebounds per game. It’s back to business for Love, who merely became a super role player in the Cavs’ first two playoff runs.

And that doesn’t even count the slowly returning-to-form J.R. Smith (we missed you J.R.!) and Tristan Thompson. These two are solid complementary players that know their roles within the Cavaliers’ system. The Cavaliers may not put on defensive clinics, but they have enough continuity and athleticism to get stops when they need to.

Even with Andrew Bogut’s Cavaliers career as long as a Twitter video (RIP Vine), the Cavs’ bench mob could still beat some starting lineups (of lottery teams.) That also doesn’t account for the potential of Larry Sanders. The pure number of shooters and playmakers on the Cavaliers should make any team sweat — and fawn the hot take flames.

So with ten games left in the season for most teams, the Cavs shouldn’t be worried. Their returning players just need to find their rhythm. LeBron and Kyrie may need rest and will likely sit out some games down the stretch — sorry Adam Silver. Even if the Cavs drop to the No. 2 seed, they may not even have to break a sweat until the Finals. But that’s a whole different story. NBA Twitter, NBA Reddit, NBA TV, and ESPN may be going nuts now by questioning if the Cavaliers are “legit.” But LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers know that this is just a minor road bump.


About the Creator

Charles Maniego

Basketball, Society, Science & Medicine. Unbalanced.🍦🔬🏀🤼 ✈🤷🤙🏽


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