Here we are, three games left in this shortened NBA season for our beloved Cleveland Cavaliers. This 66 game season has been interesting. It feels like the Cavaliers play pretty much every night, which has been amazing as a fan of this team but has to have been incredibly trying on the players.
I’ve maintained all year long that I kind of liked the lockout shortened season. I’ve liked being able to turn on League Pass any given night and having literally like 10 games to watch. It was cool having the league kick off on Christmas, giving the already important holidays game even more importance. Sure, the play at times this season was sloppy due to the hectic struggle, but it was a non stop basketball assault of the sense, and I loved almost every minute of it.
But the problem with a compressed 66 game season is that it’s over just as soon as it begins. It’s hard to believe that this is the final week for the Cavaliers. That after Thursday night in Chicago, we won’t see Kyrie Irving and the rest of our Cavaliers play a real game until late October.
So what’s left for this year’s team to prove? Not a whole lot. I was happy to see Kyrie Irving come back from his injury and prove that not only is he ok health-wise, but he continues to prove he’s the best rookie in this class (by a mile, in my opinion). The Cavaliers were down and out, playing the worst basketball I’ve seen them play since the streak. It was encouraging to see the way the team responded to Kyrie’s return. It was important for Kyrie to come back and prove he’s not injury-prone.
The Cavaliers played tough against Philly, they beat the Knicks, and played really strong in San Antonio before ultimately losing. It’s clear that Kyrie Irving makes a huge impact on this team, and that’s what we needed to see.
Beyond that, all that’s left for this team is lottery position. The Cavaliers currently have the 5th worst record. They are half a game ahead of Sacramento and 1.5 games ahead of New Orleans. Getting 3rd position isn’t impossibly, but it looks less likely than it did a week ago at this time. 4th still looks like the sweet spot for this Cavaliers team.
Tonight the Cavaliers travel to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. Memphis currently sites in 5th place in the West, with a chance to catch the Clippers for the seed and thus securing home court advantage in the 1st round. So you know Memphis is going to come out and give everything they have in this game.
I’ve long stopped going too much into the X’s and O’s in trying to break down what I think might happen on the court and ways either team can matchup or create mismatches. To be honest, the Cavaliers stopped playing with any kind of consistency so long ago that it’s impossible to predict which version we might see. Will we see the team who is down 50 points after 3 quarters to the Pistons, or the team who beats the New York Knicks?
The Grizzlies are the type of team the Cavaliers typically don’t play well against. A team with good size, who defends exceptionally well, and who is tough on the offensive glass. By no means do I expect the Cavaliers to win this game, but I am still interested in seeing guys develop. I feel like Tristan Thompson has slowly been coming along lately. It’s not translating into huge scoring numbers or anything like that, but you can see a comfort level setting in. I’d like to see Tristan finish out these last 3 games with 3 really strong efforts.
Finally, these last 3 games are one last chance for Manny Harris and Donald Sloan to prove they deserve a roster spot next year. Both could potentially fill a role: Sloan as the backup PG in limited minutes, and Manny as an instant-offense guy off the bench. Neither one has shown enough yet that they deserve a spot or can fill said needed roles. They have 3 more chances to do so.