Blogtable: State of Cavs as playoffs approach?

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: Lessons learned from Warriors-Spurs, Round 2? | Giannis’ future as a point guard? |
State of Cavs as playoffs near?



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> The Cavaliers were 30-11 when they fired David Blatt and they’re 20-9 since. What exactly has changed under new coach Tyronn Lue? And who you taking in the Eastern Conference bracket, the Cavs or the field?

David Aldridge, TNT analyst: I’m not sure a lot has changed, though the Cavs occasionally flash some of the devastating potential they have when all their oars are pulling the boat in the same direction. I still think their ultimate success or failure this season will depend on whether Lue can convince LeBron to play at the four full-time, which allows Cleveland to get Iman Shumpert on the floor and is, IMHO, the Cavs’ best potential defensive lineup (and I say that knowing NBA.com/Stats ranks the Matthew Dellavedova/J.R. Smith/James/Kevin Love/Tristan Thompson quintet as their best defensive group). I still take the Cavs over the field in the east — unless you can guarantee me seven healthy games from Chris Bosh in Miami. That would be appointment-viewing Eastern Conference finals TV.

Steve Aschburner, NBA.comWhat’s changed is the Cavaliers can’t blame the coach anymore. They played that card when they fired David Blatt, shifting the onus from that moment forward onto the locker room, their three stars and LeBron James specifically. This is a sloppy, edgy, needlessly dramatic push they’re making to get back to The Finals — some of it due to their chemistry and flaws, some of it the result of being relatively ignored in a Warriors-and-Spurs season, some of it inevitable whenever James is involved. But the Cavaliers are going to get there, facing whoever’s still standing from the West. No other East team is beating them four out of seven, regardless of the level of hand-wringing or angst around Cleveland.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Nothing, except their defense has gotten worse and their head coach is not as condescending. The Cavs remain the overwrought drama queens of the NBA and, yes, I’m taking them against the East field.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: I’m still taking the Cavs, only with more pressure to succeed than before. (Which is saying something considering the expectations that had been in place.) They’re saying the mood in the locker room is much better, and that matters. Maybe it will matter more in the playoffs because it hasn’t translated to the regular-season standings. David Blatt produced results — a competitive showing in The Finals last June while severely shorthanded, the best record in the East this season at the time of the firing. If the Cavaliers go backward in the playoffs that’s a new set of pressure on the new coach.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: The only thing that has changed under Tyronn Lue is LeBron James’ goofy tweets. Otherwise, this team is the same-old, same-old, capable of looking super and stinky in the same week, and even that means nothing right now. It’s all about the playoffs for the Cans and I still give them an advantage in the East over everyone because they still have LeBron.

John Schuhmann, NBA.comThey’ve been almost as good as the Warriors offensively since the coaching change, but their defense has regressed. When two of your three “stars” are defensive liabilities, it’s tough to be a consistent and elite team on that end of the floor. The challenge for Lue will be finding the right combinations to complement LeBron James, especially in The Finals, where the Cavs are going for the second straight year. As improved as the top half of the Eastern Conference has been and as much I look forward to the East playoffs this year, I can’t take the field.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: They’ve certainly looked like a different offensive team under Lue. Kevin Love has looked more comfortable and they’ve been able to incorporate Channing Frye into the mix with relative ease. Their defensive slippage has been a bit alarming, especially for a team that prided itself on being proficient in that part of the game. But I didn’t expect some major spike from the 30-11 wave they rode under Blatt. Bottom line, these Cavaliers know just like we all do that their season will not be measured on wins and losses between November and April. The true measure of this team comes from mid-April until late June. It’s that simple. And yes, Cleveland gets the nod over the field.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com Lue was promoted with orders to make changes to a winning team. Clearly those changes have been backfiring, especially on defense. Even so, I’m still picking the Cavs to reach The Finals in spite of themselves. What is most clear, based on the recent backslide, is that these players had little right to be blaming Blatt for anything. It’s still too early to make final pronouncements, but right now it looks very much like Blatt was the grownup in this relationship.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: To be honest, they don’t look all that different to me, other than perhaps playing with a little more pace. We aren’t entirely privileged to knowing how things were in that locker room before Blatt was deposed, but my guess is the biggest change post-Blatt is in the locker room dynamic and around the organization. And sure, the field may be closer to the Cavs than they were a year ago, but I’ll still take the Cavs.

11 Comments

  1. Z fletcher says:

    Just leave the air conditioning on and lbj is good to go

  2. Al says:

    wow… “the field”? Clearly a very biased article. Toronto has had the 2nd best record in the East for most of the season and are giving Cavs a run for their money for the 1st spot. They’re also 2-1 against the Cavs. Oh, and forgot to mention – they have the 2nd best record in the NBA against the top 12 teams in the league! (2nd only to the Warriors and ahead of Spurs)

  3. Aaron Brookes says:

    If the Pacers drop to eighth seed then the cavs have a problem getting past the first round, George will focus on keeping Lebron out of the games and I just cant see past this round for the Cavs.

  4. Bibong says:

    Defense wins games and their’s has deteiorated by a lot, since Blatt was fired.
    It’s not really Lue’s fault (well maybe just a bit) – it’s the players and management’s fault.
    You can’t give 84 million dollars to a player like Tristan Thompson (LeBron’s own fault here) and expect that to make him better on offense, or give max to Love and expect that to make him better on defense.

    The basic problem there is that they have too many players who think highly of themselves and just won’t make the necessary concessions that most players on championship teams do. This ego issue got them in trouble in the first place, but it wasn’t resolved by firing Blatt. The players still have the same ego issues.

    The bright side of it, is that it only takes a small mental change to resolve this.
    Sadly, I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

  5. arshdeep97 says:

    They are forgetting about the raptors who took the season series between the cavs 2-1. Raptors finally have experience on their team compared to the last two seasons and are definitely east contenders if Demare Carrol and valanciunas are healthy

  6. Roger Tornga says:

    I wouldn’t count Miami out. They seem to have Cleveland’s number.

  7. Lebron James is thw ruler of the Leastern Conference. Unfortunately…..

  8. Jackitup says:

    The field. The field is only the Rapters. Are they to scared to mention Toronto. When D. Carrol returns Cleveland will go down. He is a LBJ killer.

  9. Bodjee says:

    Lebron took the Cavs to the Final last year without much help! The question is, can he do it again?