(Image source: NBA.com)
There’s an old saying, “if you’re not winning, you’re not trying.” The Cavs are arguably still winning, but they aren’t dominating as one would have hoped. The defending Eastern Conference Champs, still spearheaded by King James is still in the playoff hunt and is nestled in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference at the halfway point of the season. However, the absence of Kyrie Irving is noticeable, especially since the team they traded him to, the Celtics, sit atop the Eastern Conference at 34 and 11.
With losing — the Cavs are currently losers of four straight — comes animosity.
“Rotations are awful. IT (Isaiah Thomas) is so much worse than Kyrie defensively it’s insane,” said a league source. “There is not a great feeling anywhere. They need to limp into the All-Star break and get away from each other.”
Thomas, the trade piece meant to fill the hole at point guard vacated by Kyrie Irving in the deal to Boston, has been dreadful since his return from hip surgery. He’s shot 36.1% from the field, 23.3% from three, and 69.1% from the charity stripe — numbers reminiscent of a rookie point guard, not an All-Star such as Isaiah Thomas. His offensive numbers are arguably more important than any other point guard since his numbers make up for his inability to guard other players due to his short stature.
There are concerns that the league’s oldest roster cannot compete against younger teams. Currently, the Cavs have seven players over the age of 30 on the roster, including LeBron James (33),Dwyane Wade (36), and Kyle Korver (37). The team ranks near the bottom in defense, near the Kings and Suns.
With the Cavs loss to the Warriors 118-108, the team has lost seven of their last eight meetings against the defending champs. The Cavs have lost two of the last three Finals against the Golden State, a team which currently boasts the league’s best record at 36-9.
“I like our effort tonight,” James said after Monday’s loss. “If we continue on that, going into our next few games, then I like where we are.” Unfortunately for LeBron, moral victories don’t win championships. Although mediocrity can slide through a relatively weak East, LeBron will need to find another gear in the postseason and hope Thomas’ offense shows up if he wants to win his 4th NBA championship.