Cavs championship no longer a sure thing
It wasn’t all that long ago the city of Cleveland was celebrating the return of LeBron James to the Cleveland Cavaliers. With the roster improvements GM David Griffin made after LeBron returned, it wasn’t a question of "if" the Cavs would win a world championship – it was more a question of when, and how many?
Last season, the Cavs were granted a mulligan when Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were derailed during the playoffs with season-ending injuries. Most fans – including this one – were impressed by the Cavs taking Golden State to six games before the Warriors won the NBA Championship. The prevailing opinion was along the lines of, “If we came to within two victories of a championship without two of our big three, we’ll be unstoppable when healthy.”
I bought into that logic, as did most Cavs fans. Merely bring Love and Irving back slowly – especially considering Kyrie’s history of getting injured on a regular basis – with the idea of them being at full strength when the playoffs began. It all seemed so simple – on paper.
However, a funny thing happened on the way to this year’s championship. The Warriors came out of the gate winning 26 games in a row before losing their first, and to date look like one of the best teams … in NBA history. Then, it appears GM Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert became very nervous when the Cavs were smoked at home in a much anticipated rematch with Golden State.
The next thing you know, the Cavs – despite owning the best record in the Eastern Conference – removed coach David Blatt. (I considered inserting a "loss of Blatter control" joke here but, fortunately for you, I never stoop to that level.)
It appears ex-coach Blatt became the poster boy for all things wrong with the Cavs, including the fact that the Golden State Warriors might be one of the best teams ever. The problem is that Dan Gilbert, with the highest payroll in the history of the NBA, doesn’t want to hear that kind of stuff when this year was supposed to be OUR year. So, when the Warriors humiliated the Cavs at The Q recently, Danny Boy pushed the old panic button, and Blatt was jettisoned.
Probably what bothers me more than anything else about Blatt’s dismissal was the way GM Griffin threw Blatt under the bus, ripping Blatt pretty good in an attempt, I’m assuming, to deflect the criticism that accompanies firing the coach of the team with the best record in their conference.
It will be hard for me to root for Griffin after that cowardly display; it would have been just as easy to take the high road and state, “We felt we needed to make a change to get to the next level,” and leave it at that. The same goes for LeBron, who on one hand denied having anything to do with Blatt’s firing, yet on the other, at times boasted of having ignored or overruled some of Blatt’s play-calling.
New coach Tyronn Lue has inherited a team which went six games deep into last year’s championship series, and that wasn’t good enough to keep the man Lue replaced on the job. If Lue does anything less than win a world championship, how will David Griffin justify keeping Lue?
Lifelong Westlake resident who dabbles in writing whenever the real world permits. My forte is humor and horror...What a combo!