Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Krunch Time With Katelin: Why We Should/Shouldn't Panic About the Cavs

By Katelin Marshall, @KatelinKnowsCLE

The Cavaliers just finished up a tough month of January where they went 7-8. It marked the first time since 2006 where a LeBron lead team had a month under .500. Even with that being said the Cavs and their fans should panic to any crazy level but there are a few areas that should have them a bit concerned.

So why should the Cavs be concerned?

1. The Cavs have been beating themselves up this past month. In many of these losses they've committed a ton of turnovers and missed free throws. For example, in their 116-112 OT loss to the Kings on January 25, the Cavs shot 17/34 from the free throw line and committed 18 turnovers. Or even in their loss against the Mavericks. The Cavs shot 71% from the line and committed 17 turnovers compared to the Mavericks who only committed 9 turnovers. Obviously the Cavs are one of the most talented teams in the league and these issues usually end up fixing themselves but their might be a correlation between free throws and turnovers and the second reason why the Cavs might be concerned.

2. The lack of a playmaker outside of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. This might be the main concern going forward for this team. And its just not for the playoffs but during late March and early April when the Cavs will be resting guys like Irving and James. An addition of a playmaker would help ease the minute load for James and Irving. James is averaging 37.5 minutes per game which is leading in the NBA. At 32 years old the Cavs would love to cut down James' minutes by a few especially since the calendar is getting closer to April.

Unfortunately for the Cavs, their help probably won't come until the trading deadline or later (buyout season). There are a few names the Cavs might/are targeting. Guys like Rondo, Deron Williams, and TJ McConnell would fit perfectly. They are all guys who can create shots for themselves and for others, Adding one of these players with the second unit of Shumpert, Frye, Korver, and Jefferson would give LeBron and Kyrie and opportunity to stay fresh for the 4th quarter. Also it pairing one of these guys with LeBron or Kyrie will give them and opportunity to play off the ball, opening up the three-ball for the Cavs' sharpshooters.

With all (or most) of the concerns being aired there are a few reasons why the Cavs shouldn't worry about this rough patch.

1. The Cavaliers are the defending champions and should be given the benefit of the doubt. LeBron is working on going to his seventh straight NBA Finals. He knows how to get his team back on track (if you really think they jumped track...I guess).  This team is a veteran championship team and LeBron and company seem to pick their spots at times. January games matter to lottery teams but for teams like the Cavs, Warriors, and Spurs these games don't really matter. If anything, this is the time of year where teams are trying to get healthy and assessing their situations before the trading deadline. So many this struggle is more of a blessing than a curse.

2. The Cavs aren't 100% health wise. The loss of J.R, Smith and off and on injuries to Kevin Love are putting guys like James Jones and Deandre Liggins into rotation. Usually injuries are one of the reasons to be concerned but with this team it isn't. Even Kevin Love's back aches shouldn't be a problem during the playoffs. And the lack of a scorer and defender like Smith really hurts the Cavs right now. But with Smith back before the playoffs and the injury being only his thumb, it shouldn't take long for him to get back into playing shape before the playoffs.

3. The past three years the Cavs have had January struggles since the "Big three" teamed up. The first year was the two weeks off for LeBron and the J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Mozgov trade. And last year was the firing of David Blatt and promotion of Tyronn Lue. The Cavs aren't going to make a drastic change like in years before but we know for a fact this team plays its best during adversity. Hell, they came back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA finals against the best regular season team in NBA history, so who really cares about struggles in January?

Just let me know when the playoffs start.

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