All the talk about the Cleveland Cavaliers, these days, has been about the drama between their personalities.
Perhaps you heard that Kevin Love, on a recent promotional jaunt, said that he and LeBron James are “not best friends” and went on to proclaim that Russell Westbrook — not the King — is the NBA’s lead MVP candidate. Words like these, in combination with some very adolescent passive aggression on social media amongst the team, has led skeptics to believe that there’s a fire in the Cavaliers’ locker room, beneath all this smoke.
And maybe there is. But, whatever is or isn’t happening between these men in their changing quarters, on team planes and elsewhere, it doesn’t seem to carry over onto the court. Since mid-January, they’re 14-1 against the vaunted Western Conference. A rejuvenated James, who took time off after the holidays, has been the spearhead for an augmented roster that picked up J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and Iman Shumpert as reinforcements via trade.
Love may be displeased with his life in the Midwest, as he’s taken a backseat when he could be the centerpiece on any number of other teams. He’ll have the opportunity to pursue that end this summer, when he can enter free agency. But for now, he’s bought into what the Cavs are doing — at least in his actions, he is. He’s a luxury for his team, who stretches defenses more than he gets to attack them, but he’s an important luxury.
The Cavs’ critical mass of contingency plans on any given possession makes them almost impossible to guard when they’re clicking; there are just too many ballers out there. Love, LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Smith are all capable of scoring in bushels on their own. That they’ve started to look like something greater than the sum of their talents is what should scare the rest of the league.
— John Wilmes