Cleveland Cavaliers Aren’t NBA Finals Ready Quite Yet: And That’s OK

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Nov 17, 2015; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) drives to the basket during the fourth quarter against the Cleveland Cavaliers at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Detroit won 104-99. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The Execution Just Isn’t There Yet

It’s easy to panic. The Cleveland Cavaliers last two losses are games which they should have won, easily. An NBA Finals team shouldn’t be taken to double-overtime against the Milwaukee Bucks without their best player (Jabari Parker), nor to the late seconds of a game against the lowly Detroit Pistons.

Well, welcome to the early part of the NBA regular season, and being the team many consider one of  the two top dog teams to beat. I don’t know if you noticed, but fans in Detroit and Milwaukee were acting like the past two games were Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. They were cheering like they had  the Cavaliers on the verge of playoff elimination, not game 11 of the season.

Road games for the Cavaliers are going to be tough in 2015-16, tougher than they were in 2014-15. Last year the Cavaliers had to earn the respect to be heavily rooted against because of their early season struggles. Now they are the defending Eastern Conference Champions, and the team Vegas has picked to win it all. The Cavs will get everyone’s best shot. Just think about it. What do the Bucks have to lose? This is their chance to prove themselves, and while the Cavaliers should still beat them talent-wise, it all comes down to execution and effort.

I’m not saying effort isn’t there, but I do question execution. LeBron appears to be challenging his teammates, the players just haven’t gotten it done, and that’s very visible in the recent losses.

Look at Golden State. They spent almost all of the 2014-15 season healthy, were healthy through the playoffs, and they’re currently healthy to date in 2015-16. In other words, they have complete cohesion and understanding of how to play with each other. There hasn’t been a significant injury or a roster shake-up to adjust to. Most of the 2015-16 team is the same squad that won 66 games a year ago. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, have had to adjust to significant injuries, free agent signings, and the adjustments that go with those moves. As a result, the cohesion and execution just aren’t there yet.

Thus the team is committing costly turnovers, trying too hard to make plays on their own, and they don’t let the game come to them. Look at the Warriors play a game. Curry and company seem to know where everyone will be, how to move without the ball when certain players are on the court, and who will pick them up defensively if they falter. The Cavaliers aren’t there yet.

Next: Injuries and Roster Shuffling