Don’t criticize LeBron James for caring.
Nothing has stopped the Cleveland Cavaliers’ skid. They’ve lost seven of their last 10 games, capped off by the Cavs’ 133-99 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Thursday.
Last week, they played against the lowly Sacramento Kings and Utah Jazz. Surely, that would turn things around? Nope.
Isaiah Thomas returned to the court after missing the beginning of the season with a hip injury. That’s got to get things going, right? Nope. He had four points in 25 minutes on Thursday night.
During the 10-game span, the Cavaliers’ point leaders have included LeBron James, Kevin Love and Jeff Green. James posted 39 points in Cleveland’s loss to the Bucks on Dec. 19 and 14 assists in the Cavs’ loss to the Kings on Dec. 27. Nothing has been enough — nothing is working.
So when the Cavaliers went down big against the Raptors, James stepped into the mix during a timeout. He tried to inject a shot of emotion and energy into the listless Cavaliers. He began a sideline rant. It wasn’t yelling and screaming for yelling-and-screaming’s sake. He appeared to be doing some coaching.
The internet didn’t love LeBron’s decision to step in to coach. The internet doesn’t like much of what LeBron does. It’s not LeBron’s job to coach the Cavaliers, but it’s certainly his job to lead them on and off the court.
The Cavaliers needed someone — aside from LeBron and maybe Kevin Love — to start caring. LeBron, who has had the highest player impact estimate on the team in the last 10 games, appeared to be looking for that someone on the sideline to start fighting for wins.
With one of the league’s worst defense, the Cavaliers are a shell of the team which got blown out in last year’s NBA Finals. The expectation is that they’re going to get their act together, because LeBron’s teams always do by the playoffs. The expectation is probably correct.
In the meantime, the Cavaliers can’t just wait for the turnaround to happen, because it has happened so many times before. LeBron seems to be the only player who recognizes that.