Blogtable: Are Cavs in trouble?

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.


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VIDEOThe Cavs are trying not to wallow in the loss of Kevin Love

> After sweeping the Celtics, the Cavs have to field a completely different starting lineup in the next round that won’t include Kevin Love or J.R. Smith. Are the Cavs in trouble?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: I’d say “challenged” more than “in trouble.” J.R. Smith will be back in two games, and I expect the Cavaliers to do no worse than split those on their home floor in the conference semifinals. Love won’t be back and, sure, Cleveland will miss his floor spacing (that’s a bigger deal vs. Chicago than Milwaukee, as I see it). But the Cavs still have the two best players in the next two rounds at least — LeBron James in his prime and an all-growed-up Kyrie Irving, and their complementary pieces know how to work around them. I assume they’ll be playing 42-44 minutes of course.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comFirst of all, remember that J.R. Smith is lost for two games, not the entire series. I wouldn’t say the Cavs are in water way over their heads, just that it’s deeper, much rougher and full of more things that can bite them. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving will definitely miss Kevin Love’s ability to make 3s, open the floor and make it easier for them to drive to the basket. Assuming the Cavs face the Bulls in the East semifinals — and that might be assuming too much at this point — they have the bigs in Joakim Noah, Pau Gasol and Taj Gibson that can make life difficult. Hello, Tristan Thompson.  If a repentant Smith backs up all of his contrite words and returns for Game 3 with renewed focus and energy, it will be a boost. In the end, I think we see LeBron and Kyrie rise to the occasion and survive in a series that goes the distance. As far as going all the way without Love, well, that might be too much to ask.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: Yes, because the degree of difficulty is about to go way up if the Cavs play the Bulls in the next round, as I believe they will. This could all change with one game, of course — if Milwaukee gets another against Chicago, the mood will quickly change to the Bulls being wobbly. But if it is Cleveland-Chicago, it’s a close series with the Cavs at full strength. With the Cavs down two players, it’s a steeper climb. They are hardly done, but they are in more trouble.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Hard to imagine a team with LeBron James being in trouble for an entire series. Will it hurt initially? Yes, of course. Love and Smith were important rotation guys and Smith in particular an important defender. Still, you must consider two factors before throwing dirt on the Cavs: One, they won’t exactly see the 1986 Boston Celtics in the next round. Two, LeBron has a way of covering up for most if not all player losses. I’m still picking the Cavs to win the East, but not having Love will seriously damage their NBA title aspirations.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The loss of both certainly makes them more vulnerable at home – where they’re 22-1 since LeBron James’ hiatus – in the first two games. This has never looked like a championship team, but the loss of a major cog (Love) will hurt them against every opponent, and maybe on defense as much as offense. This team is not very deep and James will need to play more at the four to properly space the floor. Those lineups aren’t as strong defensively as lineups with him at the three. Assuming they get the Bulls in the next round, I’d call that series a toss-up.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: Trouble? Sure. But how much? I’m not sure it’s as severe as I originally thought it might be Sunday night in Boston, when I pondered the Cavaliers’ playoff future and whether or not it could end quickly in the conference semifinals. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving played so many nights without Kevin Love in the mix at crunch time that there should be no shock to their systems without him in uniform for the remainder of the playoffs. J.R. Smith, as solid as he’s been since joining the Cavaliers, will be missed but only for the first two games of the conference semifinals. The rest of the Cavaliers should be able to hold it down until then. Love’s absence for the long-term is, of course, troublesome. But not the season-killer it sounds looks like on paper.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: It’s entirely up to Chicago. The absences of Love and Anderson Varejao can be exploited by the Bulls’ big front line — but only if they are upholding their traditional defensive identity. If the Bulls are unable to renew their old form then Cleveland may yet overcome these latest setbacks.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: No, for one simple reason: The Cavs play in the Eastern Conference! Without Kevin Love the Cavs offense will lack some spacing and the stretch four threat he provided, as well as the ability to go small and use Love as almost a stretch five(!), but even without Love, the Cavs have two things going for them: LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. If they end up playing Chicago in the Eastern Conference semifinals, as long as they can total more than 80 points a game they should be in every game. On the other side of the bracket, Washington has looked OK, but I’m not sure Atlanta/Brooklyn is putting the fear of anything in anyone right now.

32 Comments

  1. nathaniel says:

    never trouble tha BULLS till the BULLS trouble the cavs

  2. bossmilotic says:

    look- its a division series. We play the Bulls all the time, so of course they are gonna play us tough. I could see them stretching us to 6 or 7 but i think we’ll come out of it on the good end as long as we keep gasol contained. That and as long as we dont sit there and settle for long j’s all game like we like to sometimes. Im looking at you JR Smith =/

  3. Kal says:

    Cavs are in trouble… but trouble in the playoffs can quickly flip into an opportunity to make history. … Or just get sent back to the drawing board for next year. We’ll see. … I’d agree with those saying there is a lot of pressure on Kyrie to step up. … Again, pressure, or maybe like… here’s your moment kid.

    But Bulls have a great shot at a run to the finals now ps. This could be the basketball gods smiling on them after all those years of injury..

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  17. Indiana'sownLarryBird says:

    It’s a big problem, Lebron is great, but it’s going to catch up with them at sometime, Love stretch’s the floor, takes big’s out the paint when he’s on the three point line, so Lebron and Kyrie can drive to the bucket, because Lebron and Kyrie are isolation players. Kyrie is inconsistent, he shoot’s a low %, he’s a good player, but he’s going to need to step up even bigger, alot of pressure on Kyrie.

  18. dave says:

    Maybe being an ‘underdog’ in a sense will help them. No fear or pressure for LeBron, since a championship will be more of a surprise than something that fans are expecting.

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  20. Bobby says:

    I’m a Cavs fan! The Cavs will be fine. We all knew it would of been a long shot to win the championship this year. Trust me that would be awesome! Kevin will be back next season. He’s gonna want to be back in the playoffs again. So look out next year.

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  22. carlos says:

    Guess every one forgets about timofey mozgov with love out I believe he’ll step up on both ends of the ball he was already doing it on defense and he’s a really Good player so expect him and tompson to contain gasol and Noah

  23. ericman1949 says:

    No trouble for Cavs. Thompson will make up for lost rebounds and score double figures. James and Irving will make up small deficit from Smith’s absence. The price to be paid will be in extra minutes James, Irving and Thompson must play for 2 games mostly. The cost may be losing against the bulls anyway. They areeither number 1 or 2 Iin the east anyway. If the Cavs payed any other team next but the Bulls, they could winn easily. The Bulls – Cavs series is THE series to watch until the finals.

  24. asdf says:

    The cavs can just do this, start lebron at the 4, put Jones at the 3. also jones wont kill the defense if he plays 20-25 mins a game.

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  27. 316 says:

    The bulls can’t even close out the bucks so wtf are they go do with the cavs

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  29. Keonte says:

    I think the cavs will overcome because of lebron and kyrie. These guys together create the offense in Cleveland.They both were in the top 10 of points per game.Plus they have defensive players like Tristan Thompson and Kendrick Perkins.

  30. dustydreamnz says:

    They could still win it, I’ve been disappointed by the Bulls. I wouldn’t be writing off the Bucks, every game has been close in their series vs Bulls.

    • Marc says:

      There might not have been any blowouts and these three games the Bulls have been disappointing but every game has not been close. The first game was won by 11 points. That’s a definitive win. Second game was won by 9 points. Again, nothing close about that – definitive. Hopefully, they can get their act together sooner rather than later. The sooner they get to the 2nd round – the better. I still take the Bulls over the Bucks but if they can’t take care of business in game 6, they’ll give J. R. Smith more time to heal and will look less imposing.