Today was not a great day for the Cleveland Cavaliers on the court. They were beaten again at home handily and by a team that was clearly superior. The Dallas Mavericks are completely healthy now so you might expect that one of the elite teams in the NBA could beat down the depleted Cavs. That is what certainly happened today at Quicken Loans Arena.
In the game the Cavs lost another of their stars and he will miss tomorrow at least with a sore and stiff back. Sound familiar ?? All of the Cavs stars have injured backs now. Fairly typical of Cleveland’s luck in professional sports. But none of these injuries should be serious and we should see Kyrie return fairly quickly with good treatment. Certainly Kevin Love has played well after recently leaving a game with back spasms.
Dion Waiters laid a humongous egg until he had a nice spurt near the end of his playing time. Shawn Marion stepped up a bit. Love was excellent. Miller did essentially nothing. Kyrie had a super tough game before he had to leave with the back pain. The effort was not awful but not exceptional. So this game did not exactly move the needle in the positive way based on the key areas I wrote about this morning.
As it turned out though, the real news of the day came from the front office. It seemed based on his media appearance that David Griffin was not exactly happy with the way the media had portrayed LeBron’s comments about Coach Blatt and that Coach’s status with the team.
When you look at the video it is pretty darn clear that Griffin was aggravated at the narrative and wanted to put it to rest permanently. Unfortunately, even a forceful GM rebuke won’t stop the speculation or the stories. Regardless of the outcome with the press, it was still an important step to come out against the baseless speculation that has surfaced over the past few weeks.
It is clearer now than it has ever been that the Cleveland Cavaliers have a fair amount of growing to do before they have a chance to reach the heights predicted for them by many before the season started. As I stated a few days ago, no matter where the regular season record ends up or the amount of times they have games like today, the Cavs will be a force to be reckoned with in the Eastern Conference if they end the regular season healthy. Their seeding in the tournament will mean little. It also seems clear to me that the amount of growth needed to reach an NBA championship this year is not likely to occur.
As Griffin said today the organization, the players, and their coaches need to be in this for the long haul. It will not be easy and it will not be quick. The fans need to understand this and support the team making prudent and logical decisions instead of panic or desperation moves. The Cavs do have the assets to get the pieces they need moving forward but it might not be this year that they can get the player mix they need. Dumping Dion and every other asset they have to get one player this year is not likely the wise move.
I know that having patience when the expectations were so high for this season is not an easy thing for Cleveland fans to stomach. I wish the team had been ready to dominate this year myself. But it should be fairly clear that this is not likely in 14-15. They could still be ready for a deep run in the playoffs if healthy. And you never know stranger things have happened. But an NBA championship in 14-15 might be a stretch for this new and developing team.
As far as the coach, David Blatt was arguably one of the most accomplished, if not the most accomplished coach in Europe over the past 10 years. As Kobe Bryant made clear in an article recently, European basketball teaches young kids to play the game the right way. It is a discipline that many American players would be wise to learn. If the Cavs can weather the storm of reduced expectations, they will find his wisdom and understanding of the game invaluable. He needs a little time to develop as an NBA head coach but there should be no doubting his basketball IQ and ability to adapt to the NBA game. Again, that darn word patience comes out.
Let’s give Coach Blatt and the Cavs a chance. They deserve that much and there will still be magical basketball going forward with this team and much of it will be this year. Enjoy the ride. It might just grow on you.