Blogtable: LeBron teams, then and now

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Miami 2010 vs. Cleveland 2014 | POR, TOR or WAS? | Tick, tick, tick in OKC


LeBron James (left) has played in 158 playoff games. Kevin Love, zero. (David Liam Kyle/NBAE)

LeBron James (left) has played in 158 playoff games. Kevin Love, zero. (David Liam Kyle/NBAE)

> Think back … what’s the difference, talent-wise, between LeBron’s first team in Miami and this Cleveland team? Can this Cleveland team be as good as that Miami one? As constituted, can it be better?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: Looking back at the 2010-11 Heat, there was a lot of ordinariness on that roster with LeBron James. But – and this is a Rick Mahorn-sized “but” – Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were more advanced as teammates, having played in 72 postseason games to Kyrie Irving‘s and Kevin Love‘s none. Erik Spoelstra already had coached 160 NBA games with two playoff appearances. And Mike Miller and James Jones, same as James, Wade and Bosh, were four years younger. Also, Udonis Haslem brought toughness that these Cavaliers could use. My sense is that Dion Waiters is a more talented but more headstrong “little brother” than Mario Chalmers was. And a final thought: The rest of the league might be past the shock and awe with which it regarded that earlier Super Friends edition – it was an unnerving assemblage of talent, shown to be fallible and beatable over time.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Talent, schmalent.  If it were just about raw talent, Tracy McGrady would be walking about with more rings than a Beatles drummer with tinnitus.  LeBron arrived literally on stage in Miami with two other guys who had talent plus the veteran game smarts and battle scars to be championship contenders.  I’ll drop another Sixties reference and ask the Jimi Hendrix question: Are you experienced?  Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love do not have a single playoff game on their resumes and have never before had to get in sync with another All-Star caliber teammate. When you ask if these Cavs in their first year together can be better than that Heat team, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh have every right to say, hey, you, get off my cloud.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: LeBron’s first team in Miami had Dwyane Wade, a great advantage in experience: Wade had already won a title. He knew exactly what it took. But the core of this roster in Cleveland can get there. It can be as good as Miami. While this is a wobbly start amid great scrutiny, it’s no more unsteady or under brighter lights than the Heat of James’ previous lifetime. “Spoelstra should be fired that first season because the Heat will never win with him,” … remember? In fact, the pressure was greater then as LeBron was being condemned almost everywhere outside South Florida. The Cavaliers can absolutely find their way. Maybe it will be a repeat of Miami and it will take a season. But, yes, it can be as good.

Kyrie Irving (David Liam Kyle/NBAE)

Kyrie Irving (David Liam Kyle/NBAE)

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: That Miami team had Dwyane Wade, already a certified NBA champion. If anything, Wade had to teach LeBron how to win, and now here is LeBron trying to distribute wisdom in Cleveland. Also, keep in mind Erik Spoelstra had taken the Heat to the playoffs without LeBron, while David Blatt is new to this NBA thing. All of that was/is in Miami’s favor in any comparison talk. That said … there’s plenty of time for the Cavs to prove themselves, in the end, as good as the 2011 Heat, although nobody seems to be saying that too loudly right now.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The biggest difference is that the Heat’s three stars were all two-way players. Dwyane Wade isn’t the most disciplined defender, but he’s an impact player on that end of the floor and much better than Kyrie Irving. And Chris Bosh is a much, much, much, much, much better defender than Kevin Love. His importance to the Heat’s pick-and-roll defense can’t be understated. At the point that the 2010-11 Heat were 9-8, they ranked sixth in defensive efficiency. The Cavs will get better defensively (they rank 19th through Tuesday), but given their current personnel, they won’t be as good as the Heat were on that end of the floor.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: The difference between the two is simple. The Miami Big 3 all had playoff experience and, in Dwyane Wade’s case, championship experience. The Cleveland Big 3 has no playoff or even winning regular-season experience outside of LeBron. And the fact that people overlooked that when they put the Cleveland crew together mystifies me. I don’t think this Cleveland group can be better. I think Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, at this stage of their careers, are as talented individually for their positions as you could want. But I don’t think they are better players than Wade and Bosh were in 2010.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: That Miami team operated as an established program committed to the values of defense and teamwork as set forth by Pat Riley. This Cleveland team has none of that. The Cavaliers spent the last four years without LeBron flailing for the kinds of answers that were taken for granted in Miami. Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving know nothing about what it takes to win in the playoffs. I don’t see how LeBron can do better now than his first team did in Miami, because this organization in Cleveland has so much more to learn from top to bottom.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: To me the most glaring difference is that the 2010-11 Heat played Mike Bibby at the point some. Mostly stationary by that point and not a great defender (who was eventually benched during the Finals), Bibby could still run a team and had loads of veteran savvy. Kyrie Irving is all guts and speed and quickness, but he lacks a certain steadiness this Cleveland team could use at the top. Not saying he can’t uncover that by the time the postseason rolls around, but for now he has work to do.

Aldo Avinante, NBA.com/Philippines: The main difference between LeBron’s first team in Miami compared to Cleveland is their overall NBA experience. Dwyane Wade was already a Finals MVP, Chris Bosh has led the Raptors to the playoffs in several seasons and they signed veteran players to complement the team. While in Cleveland LeBron will have to do the heavy lifting in terms of leadership chores. They have the personnel and talent to be as good as that team but it’s up to LeBron to nurture this young group into a mature squad.

Davide Chinellato, NBA.com/Italy: The 2010-11 Heat were way more deep than these Cavs. LeBron, Wade and Bosh were obviously the most talented players on that roster, but coach Spoelstra had a lot of options for the supporting cast. These Cavs have three phenomenal players in LeBron, Irving and Love, a good center in Varejao, a veteran in Marion, an interesting youngster in Thompson and … that’s pretty much it, at least for now with Miller, Jones and Dellavedova dealing with injuries. Once they’re back, coach Blatt will still need a rim protector and a wing defender. These Cavs need way more depth to be as good as the 2010-11 Heat.

XiBin Yang, NBA.com/China: On the paper, this Cleveland team could be great, and I do think LeBron and Kevin Love were a natural fit.The only difference is Kyrie, who just stepped into his fourth year in the league. Maybe he’s not explosive as Wade in 2010, but he can also go to the basket at will, not to mention he’s a much better 3-point shooter than Wade. As LeBron said, guys need some time to figure out how to play winning basketball. But the only question is, can Kyrie figure out how to sacrifice his ego before LBJ is past his prime? Per NBA.com/Stats, in the seven losing game of the Cavs, Kyrie’s got a higher USG (24.7%), and the team played a slower pace (93.22). Kyrie’s isolation is a good show down the stretch, but that’s not the type of winning basketball. They definitely could be better, only after Kyrie, who doesn’t have that kind of blood connection with the city of Cleveland, realizes that truth of the game.

Akshay Manwani, NBA.com/India: The difference is not so much talent-wise as much as it is about experience. The biggest advantage LeBron’s Miami had was that the stars and the coach, Erik Spoelstra, had significant postseason experience. Dwyane Wade had won a ring in 2006 and LeBron had made his way to the NBA Finals in 2007. That helped them navigate the turbulent waters of the rough start and turn into winners. Here, at Cleveland, besides LeBron, neither Kyrie Irving nor Kevin Love has ever been to the postseason. David Blatt is still learning the NBA’s ropes. So they have to come to terms with a winning mentality on the fly. Can they be better?   Sure, they can. For that to happen, Love must play the five spot a la Kevin Garnett in Boston and Brooklyn or Bosh with Miami. That would allow Cleveland to outrun their opponents, spread the floor and free up the paint for James. Also, instead of Love sacrificing his scoring averages and field-goal attempts, Irving has to sacrifice his scoring average and become more of a facilitator. Right now, Irving’s assists average (4.8) is at an all-time career low.

Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA.com/Greece: The big difference is experience. In Cleveland there is no Flash, no Bosh and no Allen. Love and Irving have all the potential in the world, but none of them have proven themselves in postseason basketball. Moreover they have a rookie coach who is trying the adjust in the NBA playing style. I am sure that the Cavs will get better, because they have the most important thing: talent. Don’t forget that back in 2010 when LeBron took his talents in Florida, the Heat had a 9-8 start.

Marc-Oliver Robbers, NBA.com/Germany: The main difference is the experience. LeBron had Dwyane Wade on his side. A superstar, Finals MVP and NBA Champion. In addition Chris Bosh, who came to South Beach as the All-Time Leading Scorer of the Toronto Raptors. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love might be as talented as Bosh and Wade, but they haven’t the experience yet. Both haven’t played any postseason game. This is the first time in his career Irving has teammates who are better than he is. He has to adjust his game and that needs time. The same with Love. He’s now only the third option. That’s quite new for him. Give them the time they need and you will receive a big outcome.

35 Comments

  1. Ryan Terry says:

    LeBron knows what he was getting himself into when he came back home. he should know he is the only guy the team can count on in the playoffs since Love and Irving haven’t had a shot to prove how they perform in the playoffs. LeBron needs to take over, they have an almost unbeaten record when he scores 25+ points, so he needs to start taking over. he shouldnt worry about Love and Irving getting their touches, LeBron cant score or shoot every possession, the ball will get to them at some point, but LeBron needs to take over if they want to have a shot

  2. Jimmy Buckets says:

    These international writers writing on our beloved NBA is insulting. It makes me wonder how much money Silver dumped overseas, funny thing is though im sure its a lot more than what they expect to get back. Get some new financial advisers.

  3. Diabolic says:

    Cavs need some serious depth to add to their extremely weak bench. They could also use a true center. Those are their 2 biggest obstacles to overcome in my opinion if they want to have a shot a winning a title.

  4. Steve Warren says:

    the thing was Dwayne Wade was a great leader he sacrificed his game for the blind to be the star in a meeting that they had they it was reported that he told them in order for us to win you have to be the leader. LeBron is not the leader did that wade is

  5. NBALogics says:

    These Cavs lack the Miami Heats Experience period, Lebron will stress him self out always having to deliver in series clinching games. In the finals every game is important. I see the spurs repeating, unless a freak injury happens to half their roster lol.

  6. freeze3000 says:

    Only one expert (Ian) mentioned Pat Riley, the architect? Spo works smarter than Blatt, and that is a characteristic that doesn’t come with experience, it’s just brains.————-

    Even though Love is much better than Irving, he should be the third option and play the five to create more options and more time at the other end of the floor, plus it’ll limit his mileage and help keep him healthy – something tough for guys that big.

    Irving needs an ego check. I have no suggestions for that one, as I don’t believe people change – he is predisposed to that.

  7. We da north says:

    I’m surprised no one is mentioning the word “athleticism” the 2010 heat were a sure bet because there big three was so friggin athletic that once they took off they could run teams out the building and once they hit play offs no one wants to play against Wade Lebron and a hard working bosh several games in a row. Kyrie and love are more finesse but less hard working and athletic which means they might out score u but they won’t necessarily outrun/outwork u.

  8. dave says:

    they need a bona fide rim protector to cover for Love’s weaknesses. only then will they be considered a legit contender. the problem is with the way waiters is playing, his trade value is next to zero. they could alternatively go for a 3&d player like iman shumpert.

  9. Marty says:

    No comparison at all to the 2010heat squad…not only missing players with postseason experience but this head coach as well..

  10. loam moody says:

    bob mcadoo

  11. Zeebo1221 says:

    Wade was the best player at his position and a top 3 player overall. Bosh was way better then Love in the perspective of all around player

  12. CLED says:

    This team has less talent.
    Dwayne Wade of back then was way better than Kyrie Irving of today and Bosh almost on par with Kevin Love. But more importantly, the other players were better at Miami. With this team it sometimes seem like only Lebron knows how to defend a player.

    This team has three things going for it:
    1. Lebron is in his prime but has more experienced than back then. You can see this by the way in which he tries to win games (team play rather than score on his own).
    2. Short of major injuries Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love should only get better for next few years.
    3. I think David Blatt is a better coach, despite having less NBA experience.

  13. Game Time says:

    This Cavs team was built with offense in mind and also a playoff series. Right now in the regular season while they build chemistry this team will look like a complete bust, but in a series where you have three guys in their primes who really can’t be stopped once they get going, that is what they had in mind for this team. The have their defensive players, but the rotations are screwed up, and roles are not understood yet. This is still a team that will cause damage in the East.

  14. I’d still have preferred to keep Wiggings rather than have Love. Also b/c we’d see a real dominant LeBron that would be closer to his old Cleveland days in what he would need to do, but also b/c the athleticism and defense would immediately be boosted. But I think regardless of how this team starts the year, they will at least finish in the ECF. Though as a Cavs/LeBron fan, I still don’t think they’ll win as my pick is still the Spurs.

  15. HNIC says:

    The main difference between the two…..one word “defense”.

  16. shotgun says:

    I’m actually very impressed with Kyrie’s defense lately. He’s playing with furious, explosive energy spurts on both ends of the floor, and he’s trying. I’d love to see him carry on that momentum and become a real pesky back court pressure defender, a-la Doron Perkins back when he played for Blatt @ Maccabbi. David loves those kind of players, and if he can get the Cavs to mesh together defensively and act as a unit, Kyrie can lead it in quickness and dexterity.

  17. I can see this topic NEUTRAL. Yes they can be a good team at the top but let´s see what is up next

  18. Daryl says:

    i know that experience is important and it seems like that is what everybody is pointing out on this matter but the game is not all about that.. it is more about hardwork and not quitting.. Cavs seems to be working with their team chemistry and i believe, unlike most of the comments here, Cavs will be on top of the East this season no matter how they started this season.. they can make it to the finals with th King being a great leader and Love accepting his new role.. Irving seems to be grooving just fine(it shows how he is adjusting with the way he performed against Wizards on the 2nd meeting).. The supporting cast have great talent and this will be a great basketball team..

  19. lgfelix says:

    EXILD: you’re totally wrong about this quote: “The main difference is each of Miami big three was more than capable of carrying a team by him self surrounded by decent roster to the Eastern final.” If Lebron made it to the NBA Finals earlier with the CAVS even with less proven players so why can’t this roster do it now ???? We all keep speaking our mind but we can’t know how good they will be… They have talents, skills, and a couple of experienced palyers. so we’ll see

  20. Sean says:

    The biggest difference between the stars is defense; Wade was coming off an All-defense second team(+All NBA first team), I think. Bosh is a terrific pick and roll defender. This Cleveland team has Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love (both of whom are among my favorite players), two All-Stars who are not very interested in playing defense which is especially bad in the case of Kyrie, the point guard is the most talent-filled position in the league. You leave those guys for 35-40 mins (Kyrie’s average), chances are they’ll torch you. Can they get to the finals like those guys did? Sure, they could. Though, they’ll eventually need to play actual defense, force guys to come at them with their best and still get stops.

  21. ExilD says:

    The main difference is each of Miami big three was more than capable of carrying a team by him self surrounded by decent roster to the Eastern final.
    This Clev team aside from LBJ a lottery team neither KL or Irving is set to lead a team to playoff time despite their talents

  22. Harriethehawk says:

    King Lebron will eventually win a ring in Cleveland. It’s his destiny. But just not this year. They aren’t ready and may very well need a new coach and some minor changes or tweaks to their roster to help propel them there.

  23. Carlos Davis says:

    I go with 2014 cavs…. And agree the big difference was D. Wade… He was willing to let Lebron control the tempo of the game and become s role player and that worked good for the team Lebron was the best point guard for that team… But Lebron is not the best point guard in the league…. He is on a team now with one of the best point guards in the league so Lebron should let Kyre control the tempo… And let Lebron be the best small foward in the league… Which he is…. Running off picks… Going coast to coast off rebounds and getying in post when possible…. Let Kyre run the half court set to be able to set Lebron and Kevin up for the plays that really matter…..when Kyre stats look like…22 pts…. 15 Ast….. Maybe 4 steals and Lebron gets his 30 sum pts… 8 to 10 rbs… And 8 to 10..ast.. And Kevin get his double double…. That team will be gold….,

  24. Kal says:

    what it comes down to after tonight’s win against the Wizards is…

    1) after another 60ish games of practicing playing together, can this squad beat the Chicago Bulls or Toronto Raptors in a playoff scenario?
    ya gotta think they can at least down an equally inexperienced Raptors squad and build off that to have a shot at the Bulls.
    …taking down a Western champion could be the wall and would make LeBron 2/6 in the Finals. OR it would be a cinderella ending, one of the most miraculous runs ever and a great story.

    2) does it matter? isn’t LeBron playing more for Cleveland than the rings? I think that’s become his legacy at this point, the guy who exposed once and for all the fallacy of the rings argument… an unjust loophole dating back to Wilt Chamberlain’s struggle.

  25. Antonio Perez says:

    lucky lebron he is in the weak eastern conference and not in the strong western conference

    because he wouldn’t even make it to the playoffs

  26. Gabriel P says:

    @ Stefanos Triantafyllos, NBA.com/Greece Allen wasn’t a part of the first team. Do you even watch basketball?

  27. fromthisseat says:

    I don’t think Irving has an ego, he’s just been the man at every level and has never had to share the ball. Definitely not as pure of a point guard as Chris Paul though. Not sure if Lebron will be over the hill until 35. Kobe is still dominant in his late 30s, though, I hate comparing the two.

  28. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    Miami started out 10-10 in 2010, they had to figure it out, same thing with the Cavs there trying to figure out who they are, it’s a long season so i can’t compare them right now i got to give it at least two years, it took Miami two years to win the championship, so less just wait and see. I believe by the time the playoffs start the Cavs will be one of the top 2 teams in the East, and Lebron will be one of the leaders in the MVP race.

    • DB says:

      that’s just incorrect. They started out 9-8 and then won 21 of their next 22. If the cavs go 30-9, then sure. Theycan use the chemistry excuse for now. The reality is they’re playing 4 on 5 on offense and 3 on 5 on defense.