Trying to add a little perspective on the Cavaliers heading into the weekend back-to-back vs. the 76ers:
• A lot of people, too many, are making way too much of the losses. That’s not just fans, either. Some reporters are hopping on the Cavaliers Doom Train, too. The Cavs (2-3) have lost three on the road and won two at home. This isn’t uncommon in the NBA.
• The Cavs had a shot to win road games vs. the Bobcats and Bucks. It’s extremely early with a new coach (Mike Brown) and a new philosophy (actually defending this season). The idea right now is to give yourself a chance at the end. With the exception of the loss at the Pacers, the Cavs have been in every game for the majority of the 48 minutes.
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• The Bobcats were without Al Jefferson, supposedly their best player. The Bucks were without three starters (Larry Sanders, Brandon Knight and Ersan Ilyasova). That prompts the reaction, “Those are games the Cavs should win!” Maybe. But the Bobcats followed the Cavs game by beating the Knicks and Raptors. The Bucks lost their first home game (to the Raptors). It’s extremely rare for an NBA team to lose its first two games at home — which is what the Bucks would have done had the Cavs won.
• The point is this: We don’t yet know if the Bobcats and Bucks “stink.” Neither team does at this point. Both teams may be just hot, they may make it last the entire season. You don’t know and neither do I. So relax with all that.
• Besides that, how many people felt the Cavs should have beaten the Nets in the opener? The answer is not many. Bottom line: When you’re a fairly young team, with a new coach and new system, you lose some you should probably win and win some you should probably lose.
• Wonder how many fans and media types realize the Sixers beat the Heat, Bulls and Wizards to open the season? Then the Sixers lost to the Warriors by a bunch at home, then later to the Wizards. Bottom line II: At this time of year, what’s up is down and what’s down is sideways.
• OK, now for a little reality. It’s fairly evident Brown isn’t looking at wins and losses so much right now. He’s more concerned with how his team plays, whether the Cavs follow the plan, how well they defend. I’ll concede the Bucks game could be coined “a bad loss.” Not because the Cavs were defeated, but they failed to play with energy or exert themselves defensively for much of the game.
• Instead, the Cavs looked a lot like the Cavs of last year. They didn’t do what they were supposed to (until it was too late), and Kyrie Irving was electric, scoring 29 points. And they lost. That was the Cavs on their way to 24 wins.
• Now, nothing wrong with Irving performing like an All-Star. That’s actually the idea. But lacking urgency and not defending were staples of a team that’s finished last in the division each of the past three seasons.
• So, let’s all agree the Cavs aren’t perfect. But if you thought they were gonna win a title entering the season … well, I’m not really sure what people were expecting. As I tweeted earlier, I think most experts picked them to finish in the range of 40-45 wins. That means winning at home, and maybe stealing one or two on the road. Don’t know about you, but I kind of think that’s about the way things are already going.
• OK, now on to that Anthony Bennett guy. He can’t make a shot. Granted, that’s an important part of basketball. But that’s not the only part. Bennett has been a strong passer, rebounder and better-than-expected defender. There’s no questioning his passion or athleticism, either. But pointing out those things is less-than-trendy. It’s more fun to try to be cute while pointing out the negative (like people had done repeatedly with Tristan Thompson).
• Am I sold on everything involving the Cavs? No. Sometimes I wonder how much Anderson Varejao has left, if Dion Waiters will ever be a consistent shooting guard, if Mike Brown Version 2.0 will actually work. So yes, I occasionally question things, too.
• But I think it’s important to be patient, to give things time, to try to see things from more than one viewpoint — and mostly, to be fair. My job actually calls for that last part. You don’t have to be fair as a fan. The very word “fanatic” suggests otherwise. You have every right to be unreasonable, impatient, and when your team loses, miserable. Still, I advise against that.
• I’m no different than you. I grew up in Akron and live there today. I’m a Cleveland sports fan — Cavs, Browns, Indians, Gladiators, Canton Charge, whatever. I root for the home team. It can be painful. I hate being patient and I hate having to try to make sense of stuff every year. I want one of these teams to finally just win, baby. But I can tell you this: It doesn’t happen overnight.
• Basically, I trust the direction in which Cavs GM Chris Grant and Brown are taking this team. I think the Cavs have a fantastic collection of young talent. I have high hopes for Thompson, Waiters, Bennett and others. You can choose to believe otherwise. Nothing I can say can convince you I’m right. I’m not even sure I am. But I like my odds, and I’m sticking to them.