Do not let social media fool you. No matter what kind of adversity the Cavaliers are facing in the locker room right now, it will not matter once the postseason begins.
Sports critics and basketball fans alike love to degrade Lebron James, and whatever team he may be on. But the fact of the matter is, James almost won the NBA Finals last year without Kevin Love, and point guard Kyrie Irving only played one game before getting injured which kept him out for the rest of the series. This season, the Cavaliers are healthy, and despite their noticeable differences as a team, they have a very realistic shot at getting back to the finals this season.
James has sat out a total of five games this season, most of them healthy scratches to rest. Despite what the critics say, those nights off were calculated by James and the coaching staff. The Cavaliers still sit atop the Eastern Conference with a three game lead over Toronto, and a nine and a half game lead over the third place Atlanta Hawks.
The Cavaliers would have to have a catastrophic meltdown in the last three games of the season for them to lose the first place seed. The meltdown is not likely to happen statistically, as two of the final three games remaining on their schedule will be played in Cleveland. If the Cavaliers can hold onto first place, they will have home court advantage throughout the playoffs. They have the best home record of any team in the Eastern Conference, posting a current home record of 32-7.
The Cavaliers roster has every piece you’d want on a successful basketball team. First, James leads the Eastern Conference in scoring with 25 PPG on the season. James is also eighth in the league in assists per game. Then, you have Love, who is 12th in the league in rebounds per game, but at the same time can shoot the three-ball consistently. Then there is Irving, the team’s facilitator, who can score at a high rate, averaging 20 PPG this season.
Additionally, the Cavs have two solid rotating big men down low in Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov. Thompson, who averages over nine rebounds per game, often adds the lengthy athleticism that is becoming today’s NBA center. Finally, you have J.R. Smith, who stretches the floor with his three-point shooting ability. This team is athletic, able to shoot the ball from the perimeter consistently and are also able to work the ball into the paint. Overall, this team is a matchup nightmare, and will prove to be throughout the playoffs with any team they face off against.
If the Cavaliers end up being the No. 1 seed, they will have relatively easy first and second round match ups. As long as the Cavaliers have James, Love and Irving running the show at full health, it will be hard for any team in the league to beat them. This team and its players may have their differences, but nothing brings a team together like working towards a common goal. Look for that as James and company begin their march for another ring.