Like everyone else who saw the horrific season-ending ankle injury to Boston Celtics swingman Gordon Hayward, during their 102-99 win over Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers past issues surfaced once more.
In what was a emotionally-draining game that went back and forth in the second half, Cleveland blew an 16-point halftime lead, and allowed Boston to come all the way back to briefly the lead, before LeBron James found Kevin Love open with 46.3 seconds in the corner for the eventual three-point shot.
But same as last year, Cleveland came out flat in the third quarter, showed a lack of focus and appeared out of sync and rhythm.
Now, one can say that it’s just one game and that it will take some time to gel in integrating new players such as veterans in Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder, Jeff Green, but for a team that is stacked with enough talent to make a fourth straight appearance in the NBA Finals, they failed to leave a lasting impression.
For whatever rhyhm or reason, the third quarter has always seemed to give Cleveland problems, as they scored 18 points to Boston’s 33, in allowing themselves to be outscored by 15. One area of concern going forward for Cleveland is where are they going to get that reliable outside shooting.
With Irving in Boston and J.R. Smith on the bench now, Cleveland is built more of a slashing and driving style of game instead of trying to out Golden State the Warriors in having sharpshooters.
Wade and Rose are not known for their outside shot, but come playoffs, they will need someone who can step up and make the big shots down the stretch. While Isaiah Thomas is projected to come back by January, Cleveland needs to identify “that” guy in their starting rotation.
As they face perhaps the newest threat to their Eastern supremacy tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks, hopefully the Cavaliers will make the proper adjustments accordingly, if they hope to return to the Finals once more.