Terry Pluto: 3 Kinks the Cavs Must Work Out in Their Championship Run
The Cleveland Cavaliers begin their postseason run this weekend. They’ll have home court advantage during the Eastern Conference playoffs after securing the No. 1 seed this week. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says the Cavs are considered a favorite to return to the NBA Finals, but this team has shown its flaws.
"I think we would saying more positive things about it if we weren’t watching the Golden State Warriors go for the all-time regular season victory record and had the Warriors not beaten the Cavs a year ago, because there’s a feeling that no matter what the Cavs do they can’t measure up to the Warriors," Pluto says.
The positive: LeBron James
Still, Pluto says the Cavs are "a really good team" and they showed it this week against the Atlanta Hawks.
"They got down like 10-2 in the game. By the middle of the third quarter, LeBron takes it over. They blow out the Hawks, who are a good team with a winning record. LeBron doesn’t even need to play the fourth quarter. And he scored 33 points, no problem."
"LeBron, probably in the last few months, is playing the best basketball he’s ever played in a Cavaliers uniform – this time or last time. I think because physically, they put him on a new regiment because of his back problems a year ago. They developed a new exercise program [and] a new diet for him.
"He played the fewest amount of minutes this regular season than he ever has in his career. I think that’s a big deal and I just also think, LeBron always talks about ‘Father Time is undefeated.’ He realizes when you’re in your 20s, it’s going to go on forever. At 31, it’s not. So I think he wants not only himself in the right frame of mind but these guys around him."
1. Kyrie Irving
Pluto says Irving's play has been inconsistent.
"Are you going to get the 'good' Kyrie or the 'bad' Kyrie? The good Kyrie is one that could score 20 points almost by just stepping on the court and doesn’t dominate the ball [and] is not horrendous defensively. The bad Kyrie is trying to set some kind of record for the most dribbles in a game, is playing with blinders and doesn’t guard anybody -- and is just putting up shot after shot. And it just seems he alternates from one game to another on which one you’re going to get."
2. 7-foot Russian center TimofeyMosgov
"Last year he was really good at defending the rim and could score. He had a minor knee injury offseason; he just didn’t get better. The Cavs are horrendous when he’s on the floor. He’s going to be a free agent in the summer and probably looked at the all the money Tristan Thompson got and thought, ‘I could get something like that.’ They always talk about when you keep your eye on the ball and the game, you do fine. When you put it on other things, you just lose it."
Coach Tyron Lue this week said Tristan Thompson would be the starting center for the duration of the playoffs.
3. Coach Tyronn Lue
"He's a rookie head coach, just like David Blatt was a year ago. You can see TyronnLue struggling on trying to figure out, 'When do I take LeBron out; when do I put him in? How long do I go with Kyrie when he’s messing around? When do I pull him out of the game?'
"[Lue] can mess it up. When you have LeBron James, you understand two things. No. 1: If it goes right, it’s because you have LeBron. No. 2: If it goes wrong, it’s because of you."
An early playoff test
The Cavs will play Detroit in the first round. The Pistons have won two of the three games in the regular season series against the Cavs
“They’ll probably not sweep them. These teams are pretty good. Usually a team wins a game or two. But if you’re these teams in a title hunt, you want to wipe this thing out as fast as possible. Because you don’t know in what playoff game someone might suffer an injury.
"People are trying to say how Tyronn Lue has done taking over for David Blatt. Blatt had a slightly better record. But frankly, he’s got to get them back to the Finals just to tie David Blatt. One of the reasons they fired Blatt was because the players didn’t like Blatt. And David Griffin, the general manager, didn’t want the players having this excuse and thought Tyronn Lue is a young coach who could be really good. Well, we’re going to find out."
The Cavs will play host to Game 1 of their NBA playoff first-round matchup Saturday or Sunday at Quicken Loans Arena.