This is an exciting time for the Cleveland Cavaliers and their fans. There is hope surrounding this team heading into a season for the first time in several years.
Even the most optimistic of Cavaliers' fans has to be a little skeptical in regards to the 2013-14 season. Those who love Cleveland sports know all to well how things can go south rather quickly and Cavalier fans may know that best.
Expectations for the Cavaliers are high locally, but they must be tempered because of the nature of this team.
There are so many things that those involved with the organization are hoping work out, but hope will only take the team so far.The first of these is head coach Mike Brown.
This is not Brown's first time in Cleveland and the last go around didn't end with the best results. Brown was fired by the Cavaliers after the 2009-10 season when the Cavs became the first team in NBA history to have back-to-back 60 win seasons and not make the NBA Finals.
Brown is thought by many to be an excellent defensive coach, but there are statistics that argue against that.
Despite his success defensively in Cleveland – where he had arguably the best defensive player in the league – this did not translate to the Los Angeles Lakers, who finished tied for 14th in points allowed per game in Brown's one full season in charge.
It could be argued that the players in L.A. did not embrace Brown's style, yet Phil Jackson managed to get the best out of his players defensively while out west.
What is likely is that Brown was considered to be a defensive coach because of where he came from – an assistant under Gregg Popovich – and LeBron James' ability to guard any position on the court.
This is not to say Brown cannot be a good defensive coach, but it is one of those things that is hoped for this season, but cannot be assumed.
It would be difficult for the Cavaliers to be worse defensively than they have been the last two years. Last year Cleveland finished tied for 21st in points allowed per game and were last in opponents' field goal percentage. In 2011-12 they were 25th in opposition scoring and and one spot from the bottom in field goal percentage.
There are two things to point to for these dismal numbers. One is the loss of Anderson Vareajo, who is a top NBA shot-blocker, in both seasons. The other is that this is a young team and young players tend to focus on offense first. These are both excuses.
Brown will not only need to get his team to buy in to his defensive philosophies, but also get them to execute on the court.
Cleveland's defense on the perimeter, specifically by the guards, has been a major issue the last two years. Having a healthy Andrew Bynum and Varejao along with Thompson in his third season will help protect the rim, but the outside players must be considerably more active and effective on the defensive end.
It is not impossible to think that Brown can take this team's talent and make a run at the playoffs this season. There is potential on this club that is waiting to blossom and Brown would love to show that his time in L.A. was a fluke.
The pessimistic side of me just needs to see it first.
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