It took about a month into the season. It took some trials and tribulations. Some hard lessons learned from the young players and some teammates to get used to. The storyline followed the similar path that the Heat did when LeBron James joined the Heat. He had the experience to know to let things work themselves out.
The Cavaliers just had to be patient.
James has taken a back seat for sure. Maybe a little bit more than he should. He filled the role of distributor while letting Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love be more of themselves as they got used to their new roles and new teammates. James’ 24.6 points per game would be his worst scoring output since his rookie season.
That is the sacrifice he wanted to make to make this team work. David Blatt is using him as a facilitator at 7.6 assists per game. Even James has been uncomfortable.
This is still a very talented team and they made a quiet statement in trouncing the Raptors in Toronto on Friday 105-91. This Raptors team was cruising along at the top of the Eastern Conference standings. DeMar DeRozan‘s sudden injury has derailed them some. Still this was a road win that became a statement this remains the Cavaliers’ domain.
The win marked the sixth straight victory for the Cavaliers. Their last defeat came a few weeks ago with the Raptors storming into Cleveland, erasing an 18-point deficit and having their fans chant them off the court as the victors and leaders in the Eastern Conference. It inspired the two-time champion James to call his team “fragile.”
That message was received and this team has toughened up considerably.
James is doing plenty of the heavy lifting in his new role. He scored 24 points to go with 13 assists and seven rebounds. Tristan Thompson came off the bench for 21 points and 14 rebounds. Kyrie Irving followed up his big game in New York with a solid 15 points and six assists.
The Cavaliers are learning to share the ball and produce some great basketball.
It is far from perfect though. Thursday’s win was ugly and sloppy from Cleveland. It was hardly the picture of a championship team.
The bad news for those in the East is Cleveland is figuring everything out.