By ZACHARY WOHLEKING
Near the midpoint in the NBA season we are starting to get a good idea of what teams are excelling and are preparing for a strong postseason run and the teams that are already looking to tank and get a high draft pick in the offseason.
However, there are also a few teams in the middle. These teams have been mediocre thus far and have not performed up to their preseason expectations as some have minor holes or flaws here and there that hold them back from being real title contenders. It has been surprising that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of those teams. Although the Cavs have struggled in the early part of the season, they still may have time to turn things around, as the Cavs still hold a high position in the Eastern Conference standings. To say they are not struggling however, is a blatant lie. If you have not been keeping up with Cleveland as of late, they are 4-6 in their last 10 games and for the season have an abysmal under .500-win percentage on the road. They are just 1.5 games ahead of the Miami Heat who have been an afterthought by most NBA teams this season sitting at 29-19 for the season.
So, what caused this tear in the sails of these ex conference champs?
A mixture of bad coaching, tension between players, injuries and pure laziness has all contributed to Cleveland’s struggles. Head coach Tyronn Lue does not have a grasp on the locker room, plain and simple. Lebron is leading this team and it can be seen in huddles, the locker room, player discussions and in game footage as he is a big vocal contributor in any decisions made by the team. This is nothing new though, but a leader that is a non-player would help this locker room come together. Next, we have the players themselves, last week the Cavs held a players only meeting to discuss teammate Kevin Loves commitment and work ethic after he left a game due to “sickness”. Meanwhile point guard Isaiah Thomas still has not had a game where he is completely healthy since coming back from his hip injury. With 2 of their best players not at 100%, and the rest of the team having subpar years in terms of stats, it is worrying for fans.
In all honesty here though, we are all just pulling for stories and drama to talk about surrounding LeBron James. In the last seven years, a LeBron James led team has made the Finals, every year. And every single year in recent memory, reports and stories come out about LeBron’s team and how they are struggling during the regular season, and time and time again they not only reach expectations come postseason play, but sometimes even surpass them. It’s always around this exact time too, with close to 50 games played, reports always come out saying LeBron’s team is struggling or there is drama or there is some type of scandal or players are fighting when really, we don’t know what really goes with these guys, they might just be riding out the long season and gearing up for the playoffs where they know with LeBron they have a shot at the title. So has this team been shown some legitimate adversity? Yes of course. But it’s something they will overcome again just like in years past and when the playoffs start and the Cavs make it to the championchip for the LeBron’s eighth straight Finals, no one is going to remember the “struggles” the Cavs had at the 50-win mark during the regular season.