Saturday, April 15, 2017

Worrying about the Cavs on the eve of the playoffs

Image courtesy of @elliotgerard and @graphatick
Cavs roar into the 2017 postseason, or so we hope
 In this the Year 1 ATC (After The Championship), Cleveland fans may have gotten complacent, maybe even a little bored, watching the Cavaliers slog thorough a long regular season before the only season that matters cranks up in earnest. 

You also have to wonder if the Cavs themselves feel the same, considering this tremendously talented team has complied a 26-24 record since January 1. This season's squad has cycled through two dozen players as well as numerous lineup changes, while displaying an exasperating inability to stop opposing teams at the point of attack.

Call it a championship hangover or frustration at not having a consistently healthy lineup from night to night. For a postseason shoe-in like Cleveland, the regular season is an 82-game lab experiment of rotations and schemes leading to a two-month meat-grinder where all that preparation pays off. But the Wine and Gold appeared to still be figuring things out as Coach Ty Lue eschewed seeding for resting his top stars.

So if there's a switch to be flipped, the Cavs better be flexing their, uh, flipping fingers as they prepare for this afternoon's first-round opener against the Pacers. Nobody needs to be reminded of the all-world talent on this roster. Just as critically, the Cavs won't have to deal with back-to-backs or long road trips. Logic tells me that LeBron and Co. will be focused, rejuvenated and ready for another lengthy playoff run.

Or are those optimistic adjectives just me whistling past the graveyard? It's freaking hard to repeat, and even getting out of the East is no longer the near certainty it was at the beginning of the year. If last year's beautiful championship dream hadn't happened, I'd be grimly waiting for the hammer to fall. As it stands, I'm willing to see how things play out.

Ideally, the next week will lay to rest stories about injuries and lackadaisical play, and reintroduce the intense, fun-loving group that brought Cleveland so much joy one year ago.

note: credit for the image of Lebron used above goes to @elliotgerard and @graphatick