Two games into the young Cavaliers season, and the Cavs have produced two very different teams. Game 1, the highly anticipated and celebrated return of the King, was a let down as LeBron looked emotionally drained and his overall game lacked the typical dominance we have all come accustomed to over the years. It was easy to see that the team had not fully grasped coach Blatt’s complicated offense just yet, and the defense looked unprepared. The overwhelming talent on the team kept the Cavs in the game throughout, and in the waning minutes they still had an opportunity to come away with a victory. Uncharacteristically, the New York Knicks bench however, produced a string of mid range jump shots that kept the surging Cavaliers at bay.
After the game it was a whirlwind of self blame, as LeBron took it upon his shoulders, followed be Kyrie and coach Blatt. It was clearly evident that this team was not only a talented team, but a true team, where the leaders took personal responsibility for losses, and vowed to get better.
The next mornings shoot around was cancelled by coach Blatt, and the team was called in for what looked to be a normal team meeting. Instead the entire team reaceived a tongue thrashing by their new head coach. He called out their desire to be great, their willingness to defend, their sharpness, and their heart. No man was left untouched as even the King was called out for his sloppy play.
“He just got on us,” James said when asked about Blatt’s message. “He got on us from the time we started our meeting to the time we left. And it’s great. For a team like us, we need that. I love constructive criticism. I never took it personal. It’s just an opportunity for us to get better, and it definitely put a fire into us.”
On Friday night, the Cavs went into Chicago and brought a level of energy and drive that had not been seen from a Cavs team in 4 years. From top to bottom, the team played together, unselfishly passing up the good shot for the great shot, and played Chicago the way Chicago plays teams. With reckless abandon, the team dove for balls, clawed and scraped pulling down 52 rebounds compared to Chicago’s 42. Tristan Thompson shined off the bench with 12 offensive rebounds.
Tristan on his 16 points, 13 rebound performance:
”I would have gotten more, but K. Love got the rest of the defensive boards.”
The Cavaliers pulled out a victory against the other Easter Conference juggernaut that most experts believed they weren’t ready to beat. The Cavs are a work in progress, but with as much talent as there is on this team, once can only assume that they will figure it out quickly. When they do, it will be a season for the record books. Coach Blatt, a rookie in his own right, is making all the right moves off the court and it looks like his on the court decisions seem to be paying off as well. I look forward to seeing how the team grows into this offense and defense and how the stars on the team find their roles. Its going to be an exciting season.
This might be the year the LeBron legitimately can average a triple double for the season. Of course that will only happen if Tristan, Love and Andy leave any rebounds for him to get. Not a bad problem to have.
Credit all authors of images used in both article and as cover image : Kaan Gencer