By Inigo ‘Naughty’ Zenicazelaya
THE more I watch the Cleveland Cavaliers make their stretch run toward the NBA playoffs, I’ve noticed three things that assure me the Cavs won’t even make it out of the second round in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
There will be no rematch with the Golden State Warriors in the Finals this year. (Yes despite recent injuries I like the Warriors to return and defend their title).
- Married to Lue for better or for worse:
Since taking over from David Blatt in late January the Cavs have not vaulted to the next level under former assistant, coach and now new head coach Tyronn Lue.
Upon taking over the club, Lue inherited a 30-11 win-loss record at the midway point of the season, Lue and the Cavs are 22-11 since for an overall record of 52-22 and the number one seed in the Eastern Conference. (With eight games left it appears former coach David Blatt will have the better record for half a season between the two).
All seems right in ‘LeBron Land’ to the naked eye, number one seed in the East and all, but look closer and you will see, the Cavs have dropped from fifth rated in team defence to 12th.
Lue has always been, pre and post coaching change, the defensive mastermind in Cleveland.
As a result the Cavs have been blown out by the Miami Heat in embarrassing fashion. They’ve also blown some leads, all while continuing to befuddle the masses with inexplicable losses to cellar dwelling squads, most recently the lowly New Jersey Nets.
This type of inconsistency heading into the playoffs is a definite red flag and if coach Lue doesn’t have a remedy it could prove to be the undoing of the Cavs when it counts the most.
- LeBron’s antics on and off court:
Usually it’s in May that we all get to see the ‘pouting’, ‘cramping’ and ‘moaning’ from LeBron, however it appears after recent actions he may be starting early.
With the ‘Coach Killer’ label being attached to his name, James recently had a team initiated ‘sit down’ with the Cavs GM David Griffin and head coach Tyronn Lue, to discuss James’ recent behaviour, two specific incidents in particular.
I. The recent ‘love fest’ with former Heat teammate Dwyane Wade at halftime of their latest game, with the Cavs down 21 points.
Also the cryptic Tweets with other former teammates.
II. Unfollowing the Cavs on all social media outlets, then offering a snide ‘no comment’ to reporters when questioned about it.
More selfish, idiotic, sophomoric actions from LeBron, behaviour that none of the greats ever displayed on this level and so publicly.
Social media, in the hands of a petulant brat like LeBron, only ensures the Cavs’ dirty laundry will never be aired in the locker room only, where it should. He’s made it a global event on Twitter daily, further widening the divide between himself and the Cavs front office and his teammates.
- No I in TEAM:
Teammates like Kyrie Irvine and Kevin Love, who for whatever reasons (maybe neither wants to be hurled under the bus again by LeBron) can’t seem to buy into or gel with LeBron.
If this isn’t rectified immediately it can only spell doom in the long run for the Cavs.
I eagerly await such an implosion in the NBA playoffs, and LeBron’s legacy as ‘LeLoser’ (in more ways than one) continues.
• Here’s my NBA Power Rankings going into the final week of the season and the last nine games of Kobe’s career.
Yes I’m prepared, I have Jack Daniels, Kleenex and Visine in bulk.
NBA Top Ten Power
- Golden State Warriors
The Warriors just need to go 7-2 in their final nine games to secure the NBA’s best regular season record ever. There are two games remaining against the Spurs, however.
- San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs showed signs of mortality this week, blowing a huge lead against the Hornets on Monday and getting handled by the Thunder on Saturday night.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
LeBron and Co. still are capable of losses, like the one they suffered to the lowly Nets????
However, they remain two and-a-half games up on the No. 2 seed Raptors in the Eastern Conference.
- Oklahoma City
Would you want to face this team in the playoffs?
OKC has won seven straight to wrap up the No. 3 seed in the West, which could mean a Spurs-Thunder matchup in the second round. Very, very interesting.
- Toronto Raptors
The Raptors opted for health by sitting Kyle Lowry in back-to-back losses to the Celtics and Rockets. The top-seeded Cavs will be tough to catch.
- Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers are 4-6 in their last 10 games.
The good news: Blake Griffin is back next week.
- Atlanta Hawks (44-30):
Atlanta is showing no signs of slowing down, having lost just once in their last nine games and now are the No. 3 seed in the East.
- Boston Celtics (43-30):
The Celtics have the longest win streak in the East at four games.
A crucial three-game stretch against the Clippers, Blazers and Warriors awaits.
- Miami Heat (42-30):
The opportunity is there for the Heat to vault up the East standings, as six of their final 10 games are against teams with records of .500 or worse.
- Charlotte Hornets
The same applies to the Hornets, who play their next two games against the Sixers. Interesting this bit here, Charlotte scored seven points in the first quarter Monday yet still beat the Spurs.
Until next week, be gracious in victory and humble in defeat.
• Naughty presents ‘Mischief and Mayhem in da AM’ from 6am to 10am, Monday to Friday and ‘The Press Box’ sports talk show on Sunday from 10am to 1pm, on KISS FM 96.1. Comments and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org