If the Cleveland Cavaliers end up meeting their lofty expectations this season after all, Friday night's win could have been the turning point. They beat a Western Conference playoff team on the road on the second night of a back-to-back. LeBron James looked like the old LeBron James, and he didn't do anything to suggest that he hated his coach. Kyrie Irving was brilliant. And for the long stretches in the second half, the Cavs played actual competent defense.
It cannot be said, of course, that everything is fine just because they won one game. But things do feel different as we head into a new week. For the first time in a long time, they feel headed in the right direction.
So what changed? Maybe it was the bowling (via Chris Haynes):
Head coach David Blatt had something up his sleeve. When the bus finally stopped, it was in front of a bowling establishment in Hollywood. To their shock, they learned practice was never in the plans. It was about getting away from basketball and bonding as a team.
This should conjure up memories of Ben Cox's piece for Fear the Sword about how he beat Dion Waiters in bowling. We don't know who won when the Cavs went bowling last week, but it is safe to assume that if Dion had still been with the team, he would have lost.
Before he knew about the bowling, Brian Windhorst wrote about how far off course the team was:
One day it's an offensive quote, such as when Blatt, in the midst of attempting to belittle a reporter Gregg Popovich-style without the cache or depth of knowledge of the CBA, tripped on his own snark when inaccurately referencing Love's salary this week. Another day it's LeBron James' moving Blatt aside in the midst of an argument with a referee in the first half against the Suns, a move that unfortunately for the Cavs fit way too easily into a shareable social media clip.
Hardwood Paroxysm had a roundtable about what was wrong with the Cavs.
Through Adrian Wojnarowski, David Blatt tried to shoot down some of the negative rumors that have been out there during his first season in the NBA:
For all the criticism, all the verbiage that's come Blatt's way, only one truly troubled him: the idea that his top assistant, Ty Lue, had been calling timeouts behind the head coach's back. First of all, Blatt delegated to Lue the authority to originate the call for timeouts when the staff deemed necessary. Of course, an assistant coach cannot call a timeout in the NBA. The suggestion Lue has been disloyal and undermining can be puncturing to a young coach's career, and Blatt had one word to describe the assertion: "Horse[bleep]."
I Go Hard Now had a couple of pieces on Blatt, and one was by our Kendon:
Here's the issue. It's hard to judge Blatt's basketball schemes by what the Cavs have been showing on the court. He didn't go from being called a genius-level coach to whatever the Hell the Cavs are in a matter of months. I don't think what is showing on the court is what he's telling his players to do.
The other came from WayneEmbrysKids:
I could beef up Blatt's mind credentials if I went through his resume, but all that European mumbo jumbo about inventing new ways to organize basketball offenses and defenses and speaking a bunch of different languages and relating to different and often conflicting cultures, well, let's face it. You probably aren't smart enough to understand what I'd be talking about. You're aware that this guy is a national hero in multiple countries, right? Nah, you probably aren't. It's ok, some other people don't know there's other countries - so you got a leg up on them.
If the Cavs decide to trade Kevin Love (I'm pretty sure the chances of that happening are somewhere between zero and one percent), ESPN's Tom Haberstroh has some suggestions (but you'll need ESPN Insider). One is to send Love to the Suns for Eric Bledsoe and Alex Len:
James is as close to Bledsoe as any young player in the league, and they share an agent in Rich Paul. Plus, Bledsoe just happens to excel where the Cavs are weakest: defense. Bledsoe can guard 2s as well as point guards that Irving can't. Bledsoe is slowly shooting better from deep, and if the Cavs want to get younger and more athletic, this is the deal for them. At 7-foot-1, Len gives them a young giant who can take up space in the middle and provide depth for Mozgov and Thompson in case the latter doesn't agree to a deal this summer.
And finally, Jared Mueller also has some Love trade suggestions for King James Gospel.
So if you're scoring at home, that's two articles exploring trades involving a player the Cavs are never going to trade. Probably.