Are the Cleveland Cavaliers just coasting and not boasting?
The NBA regular season is coming to a close, and the big question is “can anyone beat the Golden State Warriors?” The Warriors who lost a 3-1 lead to the Cavs in the championship series last year, have since added Kevin Durant and who have the league’s best record by far – having lost only 15 games for a .815 winning percentage?
In fact, the top three teams in the Western Conference – the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs and Houston Rockets – will all finish with better records than anyone in the East, where the Cavaliers have skidded to second place behind the resurgent Boston Celtics. But Cleveland’s three straight losses at the end of the regular season came after the Cavaliers blew out the Celtics in Beantown to prove they are capable when the playoffs begin next week.
Despite their poor play down the stretch, the Cavs and LeBron James claim they will be ready to defend their NBA title when the play-for-pay rounds begin. As the second seed, they would open against seventh-seed Indiana, barely a .500 team. Boston, which must defeat Milwaukee tonight to wrap up the No. 1 seed, would play either the Bulls or the Heat, either of which will wind up the regular season 41-41. So it seems like Cleveland can indeed turn it on and get back to the NBA Finals.
Are the Cavaliers’ woes serious or just a championship hangover to start the playoffs? With Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and basically the same supporting cast as last year, they could turn it on and have a chance against whichever team survives the brutal Western Conference playoff. James may be looking at that dogfight on the other side of the bracket and figure those teams will beat each other up and not have enough left to handle the Cavaliers.
If you are a Cleveland fan, the concern is for real. The Cavs came from 3-1 down last year largely because Stephen Curry played hurt in the Finals. And now he is healthy with a better supporting cast thanks to Durant joining Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. After an 82-game regular season, let the playoffs begin.