With 29 games to go, Cavs’ hereafter has arrived
Kyrie Irving is the All-Star Game MVP and the Cleveland Cavaliers are riding high.
Now, what are they going to do about it?
The Cavs enter the second half of the season as a team that hasn’t been able to stay out of the news — and up until about 10 days ago, it was for all the wrong reasons.
First came reports of a heated team meeting.
That was followed by some ugly defeats.
That was followed by Andrew Bynum being suspended … then exiled … then traded to the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng.
That was followed by a 44-point loss at Sacramento. But that came on the same swing through the West in which the Cavs won three of five.
That was followed by a five-game homestand. The Cavs won one.
That was followed by a brutal loss on national television against the New York Knicks, and later followed by a damaging defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Somewhere in there, a New York newspaper reported that Deng was miserable.
Oh, and general manager Chris Grant got fired.
Oh, and the Cavs won four in a row.
Oh, and Kyrie and Dion Waiters are suddenly pals. They supposedly were something other than that until David Griffin became acting GM.
Get it? Got it? Good.
All of that pretty much sums up the Cavs’ rearview mirror.
And guess what?
Not one bit of it matters today. Honest. It’s all totally meaningless. The only things of substance are this: The Cavs are 20-33 with 29 games to go.
It wouldn’t be hyperbole to call these next 29 games among the most meaningful in franchise history. Not because a championship is at stake. It’s not. That’s not realistic right now and that’s just fine.
But a lot of major decisions (again) will be made based on what happens from here.
Griffin wants to remain the GM; Mike Brown wants to remain the coach. So those are two ways the final 29 games really matter. Another is they will determine where the Cavs select in the draft. (Note: Owner Dan Gilbert isn’t real big on the idea of another super-high lottery pick. He’d rather win. Most fans seem to be right there with him.)
Also, let’s not forget free agency. This is a major summer for it. History tells us free agents prefer to sign with teams that have cash to spare and show promise on the floor. The Cavs are likely to possess the first (although we’ll know more after Thursday’s trading deadline). The second part remains up for debate.
As for a true identity, the Cavs have struggled to find one. Irving has been remarkable some games, a pass-first point guard on occasion, the dribbling and driving scoring machine we’ve come to know and love on others.
Sometimes, though, he’s just sort of out there. That’s OK once in a while, but it’s already happened too much this season.
Is that Irving’s fault? Is it Brown’s? Or does the blame fall on the so-called supporting cast?
Who knows, who cares, and when can the Cavs get started?
That really is the approach they must take. They must build off this four-game streak, where they’ve defended better, shared the ball more and worked to overcome some so-so (to be kind) individual showings.
Tristan Thompson looks improved, but still isn’t quite consistent enough. Same goes for Waiters. Deng looks worse than when he arrived from the Bulls. Anderson Varejao is (sort of) hurt again. Anthony Bennett is (maybe) coming around. Jarrett Jack has (overall) been a disappointment. C.J. Miles has (basically) been golden. Same goes (mostly) for Matthew Dellavedova. Brown’s offense (definitely) still has a way of making guys look bad.
What’s it all mean? How far can the Cavs go? Who will they be at the end of April?
Twenty-nine games remain. Let’s find out.