NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: LeBron cautions of ‘long process’ ahead for Cavs — A glance at the NBA history books will tell you that when LeBron James got started on his last championship-seeking venture, in Miami, the Heat got off to a 9-8 start despite having a startling lineup laden with three All-Stars. James is in Cleveland now and the Cavs are off to a 1-2 start after losing 101-82 to the Portland Trail Blazers last night. After the loss, James told ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin and other reporters how the high expectations for the Cavs have to be tempered with the reality that Cleveland must first break a lot of losing habits forged over the last few seasons:
“We have to understand what it takes to win,” James said. “It’s going to be a long process, man. There’s been a lot of losing basketball around here for a few years. So, a lot of guys that are going to help us win ultimately haven’t played a lot of meaningful basketball games in our league.
“When we get to that point when every possession matters , no possessions off — we got to share the ball, we got to move the ball, we got to be a team and be unselfish — we’ll be a better team.”
After starting the game 10-for-10 as a team against the Blazers, Cleveland went 21 for its next 75, finishing with a dismal 36.5-percent clip from the field. James was bad (4-for-12), but the Cavs starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving (3-for-17) and Dion Waiters (3-for-11) was even worse.
Irving and Waiters were on the team the last two seasons, of course, as the Cavs racked up a combined record of 57-107.
James did not call out any teammate by name, but seemed to be referencing Irving’s and Waiters’ play when reflecting on what needs to change in order for Cleveland to start playing the right way.
“There’s a lot of bad habits, a lot of bad habits have been built up over the last couple of years and when you play that style of basketball it takes a lot to get it up out of you,” James said. “But I’m here to help and that’s what it’s about.”
Cavs coach David Blatt deflected the blame from James on a night when the four-time MVP finished with 11 points, seven rebounds and seven assists along with three turnovers.
Even though James went scoreless in the second half en route to the least amount of points he’s scored since Dec. 5, 2008, he managed to extend his double-digit scoring streak to 575 games, tying Karl Malone for the third longest such streak in NBA history.
“I don’t hold him responsible,” Blatt said of James. “We have to help him get looks. It’s not only about him. It’s about helping him get looks. That’s what I feel like.”
Blatt chose to point the finger at the Cavs’ defense, or lack thereof.
“I don’t think we brought any type of mindset to defend,” Blatt said, later adding, “We never took a stand defensively tonight at all.”
The question is, just how long will it take before the Cavs start to play like the team that many predicted would be in the championship chase come June?
“Hopefully not too long but it could go on for a couple months until we’re all on the same page, we know exactly where we need to be both offensively and defensively and we buy in on what it takes to win,” James said. “I think a lot of people get it misconstrued on what it takes to win (by thinking) just scoring or just going out and trying to will it yourself. This is a team game and you have to rely on your teammates as well. So, we will get an understanding of that as the time goes on.”