The Overreaction: Game 5

What other team is every Cavs fan most interested in this season? The answer, of course, is the Brooklyn Nets. The floundering Nets were (are?) expected to finish in the bottom 5 of this year’s NBA standings, and the Cavaliers own their first round pick. That means every Brooklyn loss is a Cleveland win.

Game 5 of the Cavs season — Cavs vs. Nets — therefore holds extra drama.

Speaking of drama, these guys (the ones from Cleveland) are a struggle to watch. Why? That, my fair reader, is part 1 of tonight’s overreaction.

Reasons the Brooklyn pick is going to be irrelevant due to the Cavs’ pick actually being higher in the draft. AKA the Cavs suck.

  1. Nobody on this team can do anything right except LeBron, and he can’t do everything right all the time. LeBron James and Kevin Love combined for 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 7 assists (all LeBron) in the first half. They also combined for 9 (nine!) turnovers. Nine turnovers! Korver had 2, Tristan and JR each had 1, but LeBron had 5 and Love had 4. That added up to 13 turnovers for Cleveland and they force…hang on…checking the box score again, 4. They forced 4 turnovers from Brooklyn. Did I mention that Brooklyn’s best player, D’Angelo Russell, sat this one out? Did I mention that their 2nd best player, Jeremy Lin, also sat this one out? Did I also mention that the Nets led the Cavs at half, 55–53, despite shooting 9% worse from the floor? It didn’t get much better for the rest of the night. The 4th quarter was interesting, but still kind of bad.
  2. If JR Smith doesn’t get right, the Cavs might have some issues. Smith started the season with a 4–7 performance from deep and made 5 of his next 33 attempts from beyond the arc, including missing all 8 tonight. His performance and his ability to stretch the floor is exceedingly important for the future of the Cavs. The fact that he’s a known shooter means that he’ll get the respect from opponents, but it would be nice if he could just make a shot too. He had a wide open look with 35 seconds left and a chance to take the lead, and he back-rimmed it. It was hard to watch.
  3. This is the laziest team in NBA history. They know they’re more talented than most of the teams in the league, so they have no interest in trying. I get it. I really do. But oh my god are they lazy. Nobody has any interest in hustling, nobody has any interest in moving on defense, and nobody creates a shot except LeBron. It’s flat-footed, stand-around, watch guys shoot basketball. They have so many bad habits that they belong in a Highlights for Children magazine. Those bad habits are theoretically going to disappear in the playoffs, but not all of them actually do. These little mistakes get magnified against good teams, and while the Cavs may only face 1 good team in the playoffs (and it may be in the Finals), that’s enough to not win a title. Last year’s Warriors dominated the Cavs in the Finals and plenty of those dumb little lazy habits were blown up into big, legitimate problems. The same thing is already happening this season. The Cavs finished with 22 turnovers. That’s not a sign of good habits.
  4. These guys are depressed. Look at the body language of the Cavaliers in tonight’s game. They’re either all nursing injuries (JR might be, LeBron seemingly is [though it doesn’t show on him], Crowder looks like he is, Love maybe) or they’re all just on a hangover from summer. As depressed as they are, they’re equally depressing. Win or lose, they are not currently a lot of fun to watch, except for those 3–5 minute stretches when they just go absolutely wild and hit four 3s in a row.
  5. The Cavs allow someone pretty obscure to dominate them for long stretches of games. It’s kind of ridiculous. Lauri Markkanen and Kay Felder ripped 3s all night vs. the Bulls. Allen Crabbe couldn’t miss vs. the Nets. The entire Orlando Magic couldn’t miss on Saturday. Oh, and Spencer Dinwiddie joined Crabbe tonight. Spencer Dinwiddie. Allen Crabbe at least makes sense because he was a draft-night trade from the Cavs, which is a shame. Kind of.

Reasons the Cavaliers will reach the Finals for the 4th straight year and make all the regular season boredom worthwhile.

  1. LeBron James. Duh. As mentioned above, he can’t do everything all the time, but he can do everything most of the time or anything at any time. There aren’t really ways to describe him anymore that accurately capture his greatness. His passes are obscene. His drives to the hoop are unstoppable. His body is blush-inducing. His hairline is…questionable. But other than that, what can you say about him other than he’s one of the best to every play basketball and does something every night that amazes you? He’s been shooting extremely well so far, too. So if he’s shooting well and you have to respect that, well, it leads to easy buckets at the rim. Also, while he’s lazy on the other end, he is blocking a lot of shots so far this year. What an exciting trend. Maybe LeBron wants to be all-NBA defense again?
  2. The bench is apparently very capable of turning games, or at least keeping the Cavs in games when the starters inexplicably can’t do anything right. JR and Crowder are very clearly off, but Korver has been drilling 3s and Jeff Green is trying to make me feel silly about doubting him. There are enough guys outside the starting 5 that can get to the foul line and get open looks that it’s pretty refreshing to see. Also, there’s more of an offensive identity when LeBron is resting than when he’s out there. That’s confusing. But the bench runs around screens, trying to get Korver open looks. I like that.
  3. The Cavs are so talented. They are at least still competing — and occasionally winning games — despite playing awful basketball. They really do have enough talent to not actually try, yet still win 40–45 games in the regular season. It’s absolutely ridiculous. If you think they’re putting in a genuine effort, you’re not watching. If you think they’re coasting for whatever reason and are trying to prove some kind of point to someone (or maybe they’re just following LeBron’s “regular season doesn’t matter” lead), that feels more accurate. The Cavs are unquestionably obscenely talented. Furthermore, they may be able to only play hard for 8–10 minutes per game and still win. That’s how good these guys are. What’s weird is seeing which lineups are the ones that are effective in those 8–10 minutes per game.
  4. Flashes of defense are outrageous with these guys. In the 4th quarter, the Cavs forced a 5 second violation on an inbound pass after nearly forcing one and making the Nets take a timeout. How often does that happen in a regular season game? Not often, right? Especially not often when the teams are a projected title contender and an expected lottery team. What a league.

So…the Cavs lost to Brooklyn. They now have the same record. That pick is looking quite a bit worse. But maybe not worse than the Cavs look in general.