Sports. Honestly. Since 2011

How the Cavs Turned it Around

Four months ago, the Cleveland Cavalier’s offseason experiment with Kevin Love was beginning to look like a failure, with the possibility of winning a title diminishing right before their eyes.

Today, four months later, the Cavs have re-invented themselves and are now heading towards a possible NBA title come playoff time, playing extremely quality basketball and fixing many of their mistakes earlier in the season. There are many factors in play for their newfound success, but here are some of the most notable ones that really turned the Cavs season around.

LeBron James – This team is nothing without LeBron James, they go wherever he takes them. With James out of the lineup with an ankle injury, the Cavaliers turned into one of the worst teams in the league, losing 9 out of 10 games with some tension on the horizon between Coach David Blatt and his players. When James returned to the lineup, the Cavs began to win games against tough opponents, including the Thunder, Clippers, Warriors, Trail Blazers and Bulls. His performance this season, averaging 26 points per game, 7 assists per game, and almost 6 rebounds per game, has played a crucial factor in Cleveland’s most recent performances, and he will need to perform to such levels come playoff time for the Cavs to see success.

Trade acquisitions – When they started struggling more and more in early January, the Cavs decided to trade away players from their roster in order to acquire better shooters that can help them score points. What resulted was them trading Dion Waiters for J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. The move has paid off greatly for the Cavs. Now they have lethal outside shooters than can free up more players and be versatile through many angles. To finish their acquisitions, they signed Kendrick Perkins, a great defender when guarding the rim along Timofey Mosgov and Tristan Thompson. These new additions to the Cavs roster have helped them in many areas in which they struggled earlier on in the season.

Great ball distribution – The Cavs were not having success in distributing the ball effectively. It seems as if everyone on the floor wanted to create their own shot, playing individual basketball that did not help the team. It also alienated some players, making them take bad shots and causing turnovers. With the combination of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving finally gelling, along with the cooperation of their teammates, they have succeeded in creating some very important ball distribution. They look more fluid when distributing and are no longer taking unnecessary shots that cost the team many games. With their new distribution mentality, anchored once again by James, they become a more versatile team that can score anywhere on the floor, especially on the three point line. They need to be deadly from beyond the arc in the playoffs and that is another area where the J.R. Smith acquisition helps.

Better defense – Lebron James was not defending with the tenacity he had in the past when the season began. Players like Love and Irving also began to defend rather mildly.  This lead to the team losing more and more games. Following James taking a few weeks off, he came back more aggressive at the defensive end, and his teammates followed. They now defend much better, and with the acquisition of Perkins they can protect the rim more, becoming more physical and imposing on players who attempt to attack it. Their defensive efficiency has gone up and they are playing better in one on one match ups, another important factor for the playoffs.

The Cavs have a 49-27 record and currently are the 2nd seed in the Eastern Conference. If they continue playing great fundamental basketball with LeBron James leading the way, they can begin the playoffs in great position to capture an NBA Championship. Many factors have to come into play, including Irving and Love’s performance, whom have never played a single minute of a playoff game, but with their talent and win-now mentality, they are one of the few teams that have a great chance to get it done.


Main Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images


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