With clock ticking, Cavaliers need to make things right
Random stuff on the Cavaliers as they head into their first meeting of the season vs. LeBron James and the Heat:
• Yes, it's still too early to panic, but that's mostly because the rest of the Eastern Conference (sans the Pacers and Heat) stinks. But our focus is on the Cavs, and this much we know: What we've seen for the majority of this early season is unacceptable.
• I can't figure out if the Cavs lack talent, are still too young or have zero chemistry. I actually hope it's the third option -- because that is the one thing that can be quickly overcome. And the Cavs have some quick overcoming to do.
• Prior to the season, several members of the Cavs' brass cautioned not to overdo it in terms of expectations. The Cavs have a new coach in Mike Brown and lots of new faces. Also, key members such as Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson are still in just their second or third years. But no one expected the Cavs to win 60 games. Win 40-ish and compete on a regular basis? I don't think that's asking too much, considering the changes to improve the team.
• And if that's too lofty … well, tough. This is pro sports. You don't get a decade to make things better. As one NBA executive told me (not specifically about the Cavs), "Anyone can say they're gonna be good six years from now." Again, this isn't unfair. Even general manager Chris Grant will likely tell you he expects more than what this team is giving.
• Fans have been throwing some serious criticism in Grant's direction, especially given the early struggles of No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Bennett (more on him in a minute). Also, one national website held a poll of GMs, who said they felt Grant would be the first among their peers to be let go.
• After three years of finishing last in the Central Division, and a change of coaches, Grant is the only one who fans have left to blame. But all of that truly is an overreaction. Give the man, and this team, a little more time (like, the rest of the season) before calling for his job.
• No one ever made a movie about a team that plows through the opposition without a hiccup, right? Right. Instead, Hollywood focuses on stories about conquering adversity, about sticking with it and seeing things through after all seemed lost.
• Not really sure why I threw that in there. Maybe just to help you feel a little better. Maybe to help you realize that, hey, things aren't always as bad as they seem. Or maybe just because it sounded good. I don't really know.
• I'm constantly asked two things on Twitter and in my chats, and I'd like to put them to rest right now: 1. No, the Cavs aren't getting rid of Brown this season -- regardless of how it unfolds. So get that thought out of your head; 2. No, the Bulls aren't going to surrender and just hand Luol Deng or Jimmy Butler to the Cavs after the latest Derrick Rose injury. Teams are extremely reluctant to trade within their own conference, much less their own division. Besides that, the Bulls are a playoff team even without Rose. A team source told me they have no interest in playing the draft lottery.
• OK, back to the Cavs and reality. A 4-10 record is not the end of the world. Win four or five in a row, and in the East, you're suddenly the No. 4 seed. My concern is the Cavs have offered no reason to believe they can win four or five in a row. I mean, what have they done to make you think that's possible?
• I'm OK with a gruesome loss like the one at the Spurs over the weekend. As long as it only happens once or twice a season. But the Cavs have already lost like that twice (Spurs and Timberwolves) and we're not even 15 games in. They also fell behind by 27 points to the Wizards -- at home. That's enough, guys. Get it together.
• And I didn't even mention that thing against the Pelicans on Friday.
• Again, if this was the Cavs' first year losing games like that, you'd just have to be patient and "respect the process." Those days are over. Losing is one thing. Repeatedly getting pummeled like a 7th-grader in the ring with Mike Tyson is straight up shameful.
• I'm also OK with the Cavs scoring 93.2 points per game (26th in the league). But I'd be a lot more OK with it if the offense consisted of more than just Irving, Waiters or Jarrett Jack pounding the ball at the top of the key while everyone else watches. That's been the case much too often.
• It also seems like a regular occurrence for the fourth or fifth option on offense to end up with the ball late in the shot clock. So the Cavs are doing exactly what opposing defenses want.
• Still, 93 points is enough -- provided you play the type of tenacious defense Brown seeks. The Cavs made great strides in that area in the first week or two. Now, they're 23rd in points allowed (101.6 per game) and 22nd in rebounding (41.7). So yes, they've gone backwards.
• Has Brown lost the Cavs? I'm regularly in the locker room, and I promise the answer is no. Does the team have too many guys who try to take over on their own, as opposed to keeping the ball moving and making the simple play? I'm watching what you're watching, and the answer is yes.
• I've been disappointed with Jack. He looks to me like he tries to do too much. I've seen him commit the cardinal sin of offense by trying to pass after leaving his feet on at least three occasions. Jack can be very good, but he hasn't been nearly as heady or steady as most folks had hoped.
• And I'm not about to try to tell Brown how to coach, but I think the only way to fix Bennett is to let him play his way out of his funk. He's not gonna improve by sitting and watching and feeling anxious. It would be different if the Cavs were 10-4 and Bennett was impeding progress. We all know that's not the case. If Bennett truly is worse than some of these other guys have been, we've got some major issues.
• Do I still believe in the Cavs? I don't know. I know I want to, so therefore, I probably will. It only takes a big win or two to make everyone start feeling good and gain some confidence.
• Right now, though, the Cavs are right up there with the Nets and Knicks when it comes to East disappointments. The clock hasn't expired, but it is ticking. At some point, and soon, the searching needs to end and the finding needs to begin. The fans deserve better than what's being delivered, and if it doesn't change, this is the season the fans have every right to be livid. The Cavs have been bad long enough.