For each of the past 2 seasons, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been considered a lock to be the team representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Those assumptions were easy to predict as the East has been a weak conference for several years now. Lebron James has single-handedly taken over control of the East with 6 straight NBA Finals appearances (4 with Miami and 2 with Cleveland) winning 3 championships. Now, heading into this season after Cleveland won their first ever championship in franchise history, it seemed they would be a lock to have the opportunity of defending their title in this year’s Finals. Not so fast. This season has been a bumpy road for the Cavs as they have been dealing with injuries and fatigue all season due to lack of real depth. Their bench production is one of the worst in the league averaging just 29.4 ppg and 5.1 assists which are both ranked towards the very bottom of the NBA. It’s hard to sit players like Lebron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love when your bench is unreliable to put points on the scoreboard. To make matters seem slightly worse, March was the worst month of Lebron’s career since his first month in the league in 2003 with a record of 7-10.
After the Cavs lost to the Bulls on Thursday , Lebron had this to say about the team.
“We’re just in a bad spot right now. Not disappointed with the effort. We’re just in a bad spot,” James said. “We’re going to try to figure it out. … I think the effort was there. I just don’t think the concentration for as close to 48 minutes is there yet. Which is unfortunate.”
“To be perfectly honest, we’re probably all over the place,” Irving said of the team’s mental state. “It’s no time to kind of back up into the wall and panic. I’m not panicking and I don’t think anyone in this locker room should panic. We’re going to be just fine. It’s ugly right now. It’s real, real ugly. But we’ll get out of this, we’ll be fine.”
On Friday, the Cavs ended March on a high note defeating the 76ers 122-105. Some would not find a win versus the 76ers a high note but the Cavs dominated the game from the 2nd quarter on after Lebron had his own 8-0 run to open the quarter. It was a great opportunity for everyone to find their game rhythm and for head coach Tyronn Lue to give his starters rest through the 4th quarter due to the Cavs developing a 30-point lead by then. On Sunday, they showed their resilience overcoming a double overtime thriller versus the Pacers coming out on top 135-130.
Many have lost all hope for Cleveland to make itto the NBA Finals but I have not. Regardless of a terrible month and potentially having to accept the 2 seed in the east, they have began to take the necessary steps in order to gain some type of momentum heading into the playoffs. On top of that, Lebron evolves his game when the playoffs arrive. In his career during the season Lebron averages 27.1 ppg, 7.2 rpg, and 7 apg. During the playoffs he averages 28 ppg, 8.8 rpg, and 6.8 apg. When you have a player like Lebron on your team who does not just elevate their game but also their leadership when it matters most along with 2 other players within the top 20 players in the league it is hard to go against them. Kevin Love and JR Smith recently returned from injury and are still looking for their rhythm. If they catch fire, the Cavs could be favorites to repeat rather than just make it to the Finals. For now, we just have to watch everything unfold but I expect the Cavs to be more than OK heading into the playoffs.