Anderson Varejao's injury in late December left the Cleveland Cavaliers with just two functional NBA caliber big men, and the team's bench had been struggling already.
According to Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group, players on the Cavs noticed:
Under the condition of anonymity, some Cavs players admitted that they had lost faith because of the team's lack of depth. A handful of players said they came to realize the roster, as it was constructed before the trades, wasn't equipped to go any further than the second round, if that.
One player said the frustration of an "unbalanced roster probably contributed" to the players' poor body language and effort level. Another said "it was never Coach [David] Blatt's fault."
The consensus was that their confidence had faltered considerably more because of the shallowness of the team's reserve talent than Blatt.
Cavs general manager David Griffin was very aggressive, moving Dion Waiters and several first round draft picks for J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov. For now, at least, the Cavs have three average to great big men in Thompson, Mozgov, and Love, and Smith and Shumpert should be able to provide some scoring and defense to a perimeter that badly needed it.
Haynes also has on the record quotes from Tristan Thompson, LeBron James, and Kevin Love talking about the team's recent effort and improvement on the defensive end. The implication is that with the new pieces, the roster makes sense and people can fulfill roles in line with their abilities.
While it isn't great to ever hear about players not giving 100% effort, it is human to struggle when you don't know your role or see people in roles they can't quite handle. That was happening for the Cavs. The team has won five straight games, and the excuses for disinterested play are gone. It is nice to see that coach David Blatt doesn't appear to be a major issue for many Cavs. He deserves some credit for the recent success.