The Cleveland Cavaliers play the Miami Heat on Wednesday and it will mark their 15th game of the season. Their record currently stands at 4-10 and it appears most Cavs fans have begun to go into all-out panic mode.
While some of this panic and frustration is certainly validated, other parts of it have become a bit dramatic. Were the Cavs overly hyped in the offseason? Probably by some outlets. The additions of Andrew Bynum, Jarrett Jack, Earl Clark and the number one overall pick called for a lot of optimism though, especially after enduring three miserable seasons.
Still, fans need to remember that all of these additions, along with a new coach, take time to cultivate. I predicted 44 wins for this team a few weeks before the season started, but right after felt I should have probably left room for chemistry issues. This is a very young team with a new coach, new system and new role players.
The main thing that scares me about this slow start, however, is that it isn’t because of chemistry issues. So far, most games have been tough to watch on both ends of the court. The Cavs currently rank 26th in the league in points per game with 93.2 and 23rd in points allowed with 101.6.
Kyrie Irving got off to an abysmal shooting start, Dion Waiters lost his starting job already, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao have been inconsistent, Jack has looked like an awkward fit for large stretches thus far, Anthony Bennett is struggling to find his rhythm because he can’t find minutes, undrafted rookie Matthew Dellavedova is currently starting and has been our best rookie so far and we still don’t have a concrete starter at the small forward position.
Does all of this cause for concern? Sure. But to me, it still seems a bit early to panic. There has been a lot of trade talk going on this week and I have been intentionally avoiding it. There are still several players on this team I’d like to see develop more before I even think about trading them. We’ve seen Thompson begin to make big leaps so far in his third season and I’d like to at least give Waiters the same chance. Chris Grant took both of those players because he saw their upside, and I’d like to give that upside a chance to be realized before bailing on them so soon.
The same should go without saying for Bennett. I still would have rather taken Nerlens Noel, even if he had to sit out most of this season, but Bennett has a ton of potential and let’s hope he gets a legitimate chance to showcase it soon. The same sentiment should go for Grant and his picks. All of the calling for Grant’s head after three weeks seems a bit absurd. There’s no doubt that the Waiters and Bennett picks were questionable, but why not wait and see if they develop, like Thompson has. There’s no denying Grant has done some very good things throughout this rebuild and I personally think he deserves more time for his gambles to be assessed.
The good news is there’s a chance we might just get all of the drama and chaos out of the way in the first month of the season. We are just over a sixth of the way into the season and, due to slow starts by majority of the Eastern Conference, the Cavs are still only 1.5 games back from a playoff spot. To me, this is very encouraging news. There are realistically only two contenders in the East (Pacers and Heat). The Cavs have plenty of time to turn this thing around and still win 40-ish games while earning a playoff spot.
This all starts Wednesday against LeBron James and the Miami Heat. Assuming (hoping) that the Cavs woes have been partly because of chemistry issues, the next month is a perfect opportunity to turn things around. Starting with the Heat on Wednesday, the Cavs play 11 of their next 17 games at home. This is great news, considering the Cavs are only 1-8 on the road so far this year. This will also allow for more practice time and hopefully give the team a chance to grow more accustomed to Mike Brown’s system and each other.
Another positive sign moving forward is Bynum saying he’s starting to feel better about his touch and playing in back-to-backs for the first time against the Spurs last Saturday. He posted 16 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes in this contest. Bennett also shot 4-of-5 in that game and had nine points and 5 rebounds in 12 minutes.
There’s no denying that the game against the Heat on Wednesday could get ugly, seeing as they defeated the team in the Finals last year who just blew us out. One thing that will be interesting to watch, however, is how much passion the Cavs come out with and how much heart they play with for 48 minutes.
Passion is one of the many things that has been lacking from this Cavs team so far, which is a major reason why Dellavedova is starting. If the Cavs can at least compete with the Heat and not rollover like they did against the Spurs, then the next month or so could be a major turning point for this young team. If not, then things could continue to snowball and jeopardize this season fairly quickly.
Related Stories on Buckeye State Sports: