The Cleveland Cavaliers are struggling. LeBron James says they are in a delicate place. Kyrie Irving has warned of a team that might not be hungry enough after one championship. His struggles over the last two games are a big reason why they find themselves in a rut in the first place. The team isn’t defending, not at the point of attack, and certainly not in transition. What it means is hard to say. The schedule has been weird and hard and doesn’t exactly ease up over the rest of the season. The team isn’t healthy.
Given time, it seems all these issues could work themselves out. But time is one thing the Cavs are starting to run short on.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls
When: 8 p.m.
Where: United Center — Chicago, Illinois
Where on the corneas? TNT
The Bulls have beaten the Cavs three times this season, which is pretty crazy. It’s about the only thing that has gone right for Chicago, which will have a decision to make on Fred Hoiberg in a couple weeks. They have kept Jimmy Butler, for now. This is smart. He’s a bona fide star in a league where bona fide stars are immensely valuable. He’s under contract long term and relatively young. Unless you are committed to tanking or can’t re-sign a player, it’s rare that trading a superstar pays off.
They will have to hope that Dwyane Wade rejects a player option for next season that will pay him in excess of $20 million. He’s one of the greatest shooting guards ever, but he isn’t helping the Bulls now. He won’t play tonight. Theoretically, you’d think this might be a game the Cavs could use to rebuild some mojo, and perhaps they will. But the Bulls have been one of the league’s real Jekyll and Hyde teams this year and last. They have the potential to look like world-beaters.
Kyle Korver won’t play, but Iman Shumpert will. J.R. Smith has struggled mightily since returning from injury, and the Cavs could use not just a functioning jump shot from him, but increased defensive focus as well. Kevin Love will look to get back his jump shot as well.
For Kyrie Irving, he will want to remember what Tyronn Lue told him at halftime during Game 7 of the NBA Finals last season. Basically, Lue urged him to continue to look for his shot, and to keep shooting. He just wanted them to be better shots. When and if the Cavs go small, LeBron james will have to rebound.