Opinion: Cavs have earned the right to be bored

Dan Armelli

In my best Paul Heyman voice, the “reigning, defending world champion Cleveland Cavaliers” have lost three straight games. Because of this, there are a lot of fans either in panic mode or at least a bit worried about their play.

The Cavs followed up a 17-point loss at Milwaukee with a blowout home loss to the Clippers on TNT. The following night, Dwayne Wade made his good buddy, LeBron James, his puppet, first forcing him to own up to a World Series bet by making LeBron dress up in a Cubs uniform. Then, Wade and his Bulls outlasted LeBron and the Cavs on ESPN.

For some fans, this is already a breaking point. The Cavs came into this season with higher expectations than ever, which is really saying something. This type of basketball cannot be tolerated.

For me, as much as I haven’t enjoyed the play over the last week – especially when it seemed the Cavs were hitting the ground running to start the season – I’m not worried or upset over their play, as of late.

The last two regular seasons have been filled with angst and apprehension by fans, perhaps deservedly so.

In the first year after LeBron’s return, the Cavs started 19-20. Last season, after a better start, they, too, suffered a three-game losing streak at the beginning of December. Head coach David Blatt was then fired four days after a blowout loss to Golden State Warriors.

Both years, the Cavs were able to roll through the Eastern Conference for a date with the Warriors, and we all know what happened last year.

The Cavs do this. They get bored, lose a sense of urgency and frustrate fans by not performing to anyone’s expectations for a period of time. Fans tend to not always look at the big picture.

The difference this year is, we’ve seen that the turmoil they face is irrelevant. Not because the regular season itself is irrelevant, but because last postseason proved that when the Cavs find a problem, they’re not afraid to fix it — even when it doesn’t seem the mostly timely.

They’ve also shown they’re able to play their best ball when the lights are the brightest.

We’ve known this about LeBron for years. But Kyrie Irving was able to rebound after a subpar regular season coming off knee surgery to make shots at a rate of 53.5 percent in the playoffs, which would have been a career high for him (until this year).

Kevin Love shot 111 threes in the playoffs at a 41.4 percent clip, which would’ve been the first time in his career he shot over 40 percent from downtown, while averaging at least five three-pointers per game. Oh, and he locked down the Warriors’ Stephen Curry in the final moments of Game 7.

Tristan Thompson continued to grab a ton of second chance opportunities for the Cavs and made a buzzer beating jump shot in Game 4 of the Finals. I was there. It happened. I saw it.

J.R. Smith, who carried the stigma of letting his team down when games mattered most, hit a playoff career high 43 percent of his threes (also would have been a regular season career high).

Even Channing Frye, who was brought in mid-season, made over half of his playoff threes (26-46). It felt like every shot he took before the Finals didn’t hit the rim.

Did I just cherry-pick all these numbers? Of course I did. But the point is, almost to a man, the Cavs did what was needed to be done when their number was called.

I’m not even close to panicking or being upset with this Cavs team. They’ll show me and everyone else what they’re capable of come May and June. Dropping games in December ultimately won’t matter for this team.

After all, they have a ring to prove it.

Dan Armelli is a columnist, contact him at [email protected]