It was dicey before the blockbuster trades. Cleveland at one point lost 11 of 15 games, played no defense, their role players stunk, there was a massive divide in the locker room, and the cloud of LeBron possibly leaving after the season was generating constant chatter.
That all went away with the trades. They went 19-9 excluding the final game of the regular season, but most importantly, Cleveland beat Eastern Conference foes like Toronto (2x), Milwaukee, OKC and Anthony Davis’s Pelicans. Order had been resorted. Their bulletproof aura was back. Sure, the defense was still ranked 31st in the NBA, but at least the role players were contributing, the bickering was gone, and their swagger was back.
All of this is why the 18-point defeat at the hands of Indiana in Game 1 should serve as a wake-up call to every Cavalier not named LeBron James. They don’t play again until Wednesday, so the Cavs will have to endure at least 72 hours of ‘NO WAY THE CAVS ARE GETTING OUT OF THE EAST’ chatter. This is much better than if they had won the game, like everyone expected.
Exhale, Cleveland. The Cavs will be fine (well, this season, anyway). It would be the greatest upset in the NBA since LeBron entered the league if Cleveland lost the series to Indiana. Yes, bigger than rallying from down 3-1 to beat the Warriors.
This loss will be a serious wake-up call to the likes of Jeff Green (0-7, 0 points in 27 minutes), Hill (one assist in 19 minutes), and Clarkson (six shots in 21 minutes, six points).
Kyle Korver was limited to four minutes due to a sore fit; Jose Calderon can’t shoot; who is making three-pointers on this team? They were a pedestrian 8-of-34 on three-pointers, a pathetic 23 percent. I fully expect LeBron to get in the faces of players like Hill and demand better defensively vs Victor Oladipo (32 points, 6-of-9 three-pointers).
It’s unthinkable that the Cavs would lose this series. Win in six or seven? Sure. LeBron has never lost in the first round in his career.