The Cleveland Cavaliers went through it all last season as a team. From losing Kyrie Irving in last year’s off-season to a midseason purge of the roster, it was an up and down season, to say the least.
Through it all, the Cavaliers were still able to defy the odds and make it to their fourth consecutive NBA Finals. They pushed there way through the Eastern Conference playoffs before meeting their nemesis, the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors proved to be too much to handle, sending the Cavaliers home in four games.
After a multitude of changes in this off-season, the Cavaliers will certainly have different expectations than previous years. Here’s the Cleveland Cavaliers season preview.
What Worked Last Season
LeBron James, LeBron James, and LeBron James. It’s hard to imagine any other player go through what the Cavaliers went through last season and still will them to the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers also showed a better bench presence than previous years. Kevin Love was also a bit more consistent in his new “second option” role last season. He seemed to get more into the paint and establish himself rather than just becoming a spot-up shooter.
Love’s aggressiveness was vital in creating perimeter shots and spacing the floor. Tristan Thompson also revitalized his image in the playoffs after having a tough regular season. His energy and hustle were vital for the Cavaliers in the playoffs, especially against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Even though LeBron willed this team to the Finals, there was a multitude of contributions throughout the season that helped the Cavaliers continue to play into June once again. Throughout the tough circumstances, the Cavaliers showed a great deal of resilience and toughness.
What Needs Improvement
Many times last season, the Cavaliers were very inconsistent on defense. A lot of the struggles probably had a lot to do with the revolving door of personnel throughout the season. Defense takes time to build and the Cavaliers certainly did not have that time.
Coming into a new season, stability and development will have to improve in order for the defense to improve. The Cavaliers will look to use training camp and preseason to start to build chemistry and communication, both of which are essential to the defensive side of the ball.
The biggest splash of the off-season was when LeBron decided that he will be taking his talents to the Los Angeles Lakers. With a player of that caliber leaving, the Cavaliers will be shuffling to find an identity for the coming season.
They will try to build this new identity with a healthy combination of veterans and young players. Among these young players is recently drafted, Colin Sexton. He showed tremendous flashes during summer league and will look to make an impact right away.
Love’s role will very much change this season. He can no longer be aggressive some of the times, he must be aggressive all of the time. Additionally, he should create chances on offense for himself and his teammates.
2018-19 Season Prediction
It has been ‘championship or bust’ for the Cavaliers since LeBron came home in the summer of 2014. These expectations will obviously change this season. There will be no pressure on the Cavaliers to perform and they will be flying under the radar.
With that being said, they still have a lot of capable players on the team and they will be hungry to prove that they can still be relevant post-LeBron. The Cavaliers will surprise a lot of people and find a way to sneak into the playoffs. They will be the seventh seed and likely lose in four or five games in the first round.
Sexton and Love will carry the team throughout the season and prove to be a decent combo moving forward. It will be interesting and different to see the Cavaliers play with no pressure.
CLEVELAND, OH – JUNE 06: Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots against the Golden State Warriors during Game Three of the 2018 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 6, 2018 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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