Keeping Up With the Cavaliers
Have you heard about the latest episode of Keeping Up With the Cavaliers? It’s a doozy. Here’s a quick recap: last week the Cavs held a team-only meeting. During this meeting, his teammates (namely, Isaiah Thomas) called out Kevin Love for leaving the game, sick, during their embarrassing loss to OKC. He left early in the game and missed practice the following day. Some of Love’s teammates accused him of faking his illness, which is very likely and very mature of them. Not.
I manage a bar/restaurant. Now, I don’t know about you, but if one of my employees is sick I don’t want them at work. I’m never mad if one of them needs to take time off to heal or recover because I know they’ll come back 100%. The team may struggle without them and have to make up for the loss, but that’s temporary. Sure, players have played through bigger issues – Michael Jordan’s infamous “Flu Game”, and Thomas himself, playing through the death of his sister and hip injury last post-season. This, however, was a regular season game. Not the NBA Finals or Playoffs.
What’s Kevin Love Got To Do With It?
The Cavaliers are seemingly coming undone. They’ve lost 10 of their last 16, and several of those games were complete blowouts. They lost by 28 to the Timberwolves, by 34 to the Raptors, and by 24 to the Thunder. Yikes.
The best players get looked at through a microscope when things go wrong. It’s easy to look at the players with the highest salaries and judge whether or not they’re playing up to their contract. Kevin Love is the second highest paid player on the team, behind LeBron James. James is still himself and is playing like an animal even in his 15th year in the league. Naturally, people are more than willing to rip into Love and say that he’s not playing up to his contract, but is that even true? He’s shooting 46.3% from the field (40.4% from the 3-point line), averaging 9.6 rebounds and 18.2 points per game. His stats aren’t as good as they were in his prime in Minnesota, but remember, he’s also on a team with LeBron James now. Kevin Love’s performance in game 7 of the 2016 finals was perhaps the reason the Cavaliers took home the championship.
Why doesn’t the team look at Tristan Thompson, the third highest-paid player on the team? He’s averaging 5.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and .3 blocks per game. Whether it be the Kardashian curse or not, I’d say Thompson is certainly performing waaaay below his contract. Why aren’t Jae Crowder, Iman Shumpert, or J.R. Smith taking some of the heat for the unraveling of the team? Yes, Thomas has only been back for a small stretch of the season, but he doesn’t look at all like the player he was in Boston. What’s Love actually got to do with it?
Can the Cavs’ Season Be Saved?
I think, instead of using Kevin Love as a scapegoat for their frustrations, the team needs to look internally instead of pointing fingers. Love is a liability on defense (unless it’s on Curry in the finals, apparently), but everyone already knows that. He’s not going to be a great rim-protector, he’s not going to be a shot-blocker, so the team shouldn’t expect that of him. He’s going to make 3’s, get rebounds, be aggressive in the paint and space the floor efficiently. He and James work well together and he is clearly the second-best player on the team. There are trade rumors circulating around Love and I’m not about it. He’s dreamy and he’s proven himself as an asset to this team. I think some positive strides can be made – we’ve seen it happen time and time again with the Cavaliers. The team needs to get their sh*t together, create a non-toxic environment and communicate or else it’s going to be the Celtics and Rockets* in the finals. I don’t want a LeBron-less finals.
* I’ve already expressed clearly that I’m a Warriors hater. I don’t want them to be in the Finals. I’m manifesting it in any way I can. Leave me alone.