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CLEVELAND — They had hoped issues can be higher after an evening of bonding. The total Cleveland Cavaliers group had their collective fingers crossed Halloween occasion hosted by LeBron James would permit the struggling reigning Eastern Conference champions to play looser, to speak higher, to instill extra belief. Wives had been there. Girlfriends and pals flew in. Kyle Korver, dressed as Willy Wonka, arrived with a human golden ticket and two Oompa Loompas.
The pondering was that their preseason was rife with distractions and lineup modifications, however a number of hours of laughing, dancing, snapping and importing movies to Instagram can be simply the trick to get the workforce headed in the appropriate path.
If Sunday’s double-digit loss to the New York Knicks was deemed “unacceptable” by head coach Tyronn Lue, one other loss—a 124-107 drubbing by the hands of the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday—helped issues none.
It was their fourth straight loss and fifth in a six-game stretch estimated to be the second-easiest within the NBA this season. A bunch of high-fives was disseminated earlier than the tip, however the end result was one other defense-optional contest that ended with the Cavaliers’ strolling off the ground with their heads down. Their chief was probably the most upset of all of them.
“The other game, we got our butts kicked,” Lue mentioned postgame, making an attempt to sofa their newest loss. “In this one … I’m seeing improvements. We just have to sustain it.”
When requested about any constructive takeaways from their most up-to-date loss, James merely shook his head in disgust.
“We need to get in better shape, be mindful of what’s going on,” James mentioned. “There are a lot of things we can do.”
James has been aggressive on the offensive finish all season, scoring 25.6 factors per sport whereas doling out eight.9 badists. He has 5 double-doubles on a really younger season. Defensively, nonetheless, the Cavaliers are falling sufferer to a nightly barrage of fast-paced, transition offenses from groups which are youthful and taking part in hungrier.
It was simply six months in the past when the Cavaliers swept the Pacers within the first spherical of the NBA playoffs solely to have the latter commerce away its famous person in Paul George.
Throughout stretches of Wednesday evening’s sport, the Cavaliers made runs, however the beginning unit was as soon as once more dominated by a roster of opposing gamers who would barely register one family identify.
Internally, the workforce believes that whereas turnovers have been expensive, missed nook three-pointers are resulting in lengthy rebounds with a would-be defender caught within the nook. The eye take a look at coupled with an offensive effectivity rating that places Cleveland in the course of the NBA, nonetheless, reveals one thing completely different. The final three video games have been misplaced by a mixed 58 factors with the Cavs favored in every contest, and opposing groups are scoring from the three-point line with ease.
“We have an opportunity to be good,” James mentioned, rife with frustration. “Unfortunately, we’re trying to learn on the fly. We’re trying to make the right play. It’s just not working out.”
“We have to defend for a whole game, and we haven’t done that yet,” Kevin Love mentioned. “We have to get better.”
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What the Cavaliers have is the oldest roster within the league, each on common and on a minute-weighted foundation, falling sufferer to their very own methods of drive-and-kick kinds of play. Not solely are they getting misplaced in transition, they’re often discovering themselves misplaced, collapsing the lane solely to depart shooters open outdoors the arc. Not serving to issues would be the absence of their most versatile choose and roll defender in Tristan Thompson, slated to overlook the following three-to-four weeks with a left calf pressure. Lue will now be compelled to maneuver Love (who has the bottom defensive plus-minus of all fundamental rotation gamers to date in 2017-18) again into the middle spot with uncooked gamers like Ante Zizic and equally tough defensive choices like Channing Frye probably incomes taking part in time.
Lue wish to play with tempo, but when practices and sport circulate have proven something, it is that they proceed to battle with their bodily conditioning and the flexibility to maintain runs.
This six-game stretch that noticed the Cavaliers pull out one win, a come-from-behind victory in opposition to the Chicago Bulls, was simple on paper. But the schedule will take a flip in a short time with a stretch that options the upstart Milwaukee Bucks, in addition to a four-game street journey because the Houston Rockets wait within the wings.
To James’ level of “learning on the fly” with out the flexibility to apply for stretches at a time, the workforce faces some headwinds due to new league guidelines that function an earlier begin, shorter preseason and a month of November that has a sport each different day nearly all of the best way. That permits little time to string collectively practices and sport plans with sure groups in thoughts.
Lue, who held an extra-long apply that included a 90-minute air-it-out session Tuesday, has thrown round a number of counts of statements that deserve a bit extra clarification. Several days earlier, the Cavs head coach mentioned a few of his gamers had been taking part in “intimidated,” solely to backtrack a bit and broaden that he was discussing a consolation degree that takes time to construct for gamers alongside James for the primary time.
Following Sunday’s loss to the Knicks, Lue referenced the workforce’s “spirits” being down. When requested by Bleacher Report to broaden, Lue mentioned that off the court docket, the workforce has nice chemistry and a fantastic bond. On the court docket, nonetheless, they’re taking part in like a number of people slightly than a workforce.
“We need to enjoy the game together,” Lue mentioned. “Having fun. Right now, guys are not having fun. We need to get our chemistry right.”
As it stands, improved chemistry for the Cavaliers will take rather more than an evening of costumes, badtails and camaraderie.
All quotes obtained firsthand.