Notwithstanding the exciting overtime win against a team thought to be “tanking”, the Cavaliers have shown many of the same disturbing tendencies that we have seen during three mega loss seasons. The inexcusable trend continues to be a monumental lack of effort for 48 minutes. This now spans over a coaching change and multiple drafts with high draft picks. That does not mean I am overreacting to a few losses or believing the Cavs season is going into the toilet because of a 3-4 start. What I see is an ongoing trend that must end or the Cavs will not have Kyrie Irving or a winning team at all in several years. The time to send out the “all hands on deck” call is now instead of waiting until very little can be done to salvage the season and the Cavs future.
Am I being melodramatic about placing the entire Cavs future at stake here? I don’t believe I am and have a large sample size and an ability to read the body language of the players to support that contention. The reason why this is so critical and pivotal all revolves around the same thing that drives the entire NBA, star power. Kyrie Irving, despite his current faults as a player, is a developing star in the NBA. His visibility is rising and his importance to the Cavalier’s future is increasing as well.
One of the big things that happened to the last star that left is a development of a beaten attitude when his team blew opportunities in the playoffs that he viewed as his “birthright” to reach his championship destiny. As often happens when your view of the world is distorted by your own success, his belief was that this was the fault of everyone else around him from coaches to teammates and even his “posse”. That leads to a lack of effort and a beaten attitude, as was clearly evident near the end.
Kyrie, in a very different and possibly worse scenario, has shown signs of the same failings as his star predecessor. That is the irony of this entire situation. Since the major failure of the Cavs is a lack of consistent effort, especially on the defensive end, it will take the star to lead the team out of that. The team will follow in my opinion, but Kyrie must lead. The coach obviously can’t do it. Byron Scott marveled at the way effort varied despite the fact that he knew it was the only thing that wasn’t dependent on one’s talent. He felt that everyone could give effort and he couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t. Well Mike Brown, welcome to Byron Scott’s world.
The previous star never realized that if he dominated defensively and drove to the basket consistently to make his points and assists, he would have gotten what he wanted even in Cleveland. The current star has, in my opinion, a developing superior supporting cast but still doesn’t put forth the consistent effort needed to lead the defensive charge and offensive movement and consistency. He is prone to the same ball dominating approach on offense and his own unique varying intensity on defense.
That is not to say that the Cavs lack of success is all on Kyrie. Without Kyrie, we would have lost many games that we eventually won. But I believe the Cavs ultimate success IS on Kyrie. If he takes the lead and demonstrates consistent defensive effort and demands offensive flow and movement, the Cavs will be successful. They will make the playoffs and be a dangerous team when they get there. If he still looks to his teammates to lead the way, the Cavs are destined for a thunderous thud back in the lottery. I believe the time is now to get this done. If we wait to address the obvious later, it will be too late.
I have confidence that Kyrie and Mike Brown can make it happen but I will be looking for signs soon. I am hoping that playing hard for two overtimes and winning will help Kyrie and the team understand that they CAN put forth that effort for a regulation game. I’ll let you know if I see the transformation.