The Cavs got crushed by the Mavericks tonight. They are a deeper and better team. But that's not the story.
There's 81 games left in this season, which is obvious but worth pointing out at this juncture. Because at the moment the Cavs are getting worse and not better. They are going to need some time to get what is ailing them straightened out. Time they have, there is absolutely no reason for them or the fans to start to panic, but it isn't going to be easy and that's what we're going to talk about.
There's no use blaming the absence of Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic on this one, that's not what is really hurting the Cavs right now. Nor it is the inability of the front office to get a point guard. At this point in their history, the Cavs are fractured emotionally and it as plain as day both on the court and in the locker room.
There's been lots of stories written about this, many by me, over the last several months. None of it is new and none of what I am about to write is breaking news. But at this point, what is happening needs to be explained and I'm going to try to do it for you.
For the last two years, there's been mostly harmony here at Quicken Loans Arena. Danny Ferry and Mike Brown have fostered a family atmosphere and Dan Gilbert has funneled money into the franchise. Veterans were paid. Young guys were hungry. LeBron James was exploding. Mike Brown was teaching defense. The facilities became amazing. The operation is first class. Everybody was happy and excited and, for the most part, everyone got along. Playing as the sum being greater than the parts plus a superstar, the Cavs won 100 regular season games and four playoff series.
The natural progression of things has changed and the Cavs family is now feuding as they deal with the transition. Young players are holding out because they want their money now. Veteran players being eased aside are angry about playing time, some wanting more, some wanting to be traded. Mike Brown's attempts at teaching offense have been bumpy to say the least. The front office is keeping a closer eye on the future than the present.
All of this is combining and has been since the Cavs season ended last June. It was a storm on the horizon. It is the undercurrent of why the Cavs are playing sick since the start of training camp, because they are sick. It shows in they way they conduct themselves, it shows in what they say to the media and to their family members about the team, it shows in the effort and focus level they are putting out on the floor for the last month.
LeBron James, who has a good of a feel as anyone, has said two things of interest to me in the last week. One is "If we don't get this fixed, we're going to keep getting blown out." He's right about that one. And "'I'm not going to allow our team not to play well. I won't let those guys not work hard in practice or not work hard in games." That one is going to be an extreme test of his powers based on what is going on right now.
Paul Silas always used to say, and I refer to it all the time, that "In the NBA, ain't nothing going to be a bed of roses." That and his line: "Happy wife, happy life" couldn't be more true. So the Cavs are going through the thorns right now and it is to be expected. In some ways, they are going through a backlog of thorns from the last two years.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out, and I'll be attempting to describe it to you. There's at least five months to watch the drama unfold.