Sports Page

2014-2015 Cleveland Cavaliers Season Preview

Chad W. Lutz
And away we go…
Greetings, Cavs fans. Here we are once again on the precipice of yet another 82-game season of NBA basketball. The hardwood never looked so good. A lot of exciting things have happened in Cleveland this offseason, and around the league in general. It's been far too long since hoops were a daily occurrence. The summer nights have been warm and inviting, but they've also been completely bereft of alley-oop dunks and no-look bounce passes. That kind of thing just isn't right. However, basketball is back and tips off tonight with marque matchups between the defending champion San Antonio Spurs and a title-hungry Dallas team looking to continue putting pressure on their Southwest Division rivals.

Basketball fans in Cleveland and across the United States have their eyes on Thursday.

Confession time: I've avoided writing about the offseason acquisitions made by the Cavaliers mainly in respect to the sheer enormity of what the moves actually mean for our city and basketball team. Sure, I could have joined the fourteen billion other sports writers out there and offered my two-and-a-half cents on Lebron James shocking the world in leaving Miami and returning home to the Cavaliers in one of the most under-anticipated moves in the history of the game, or how Dan Gilbert and David Griffin were able to entice Kevin Love enough to bring him to the Tree City, let alone resign Kyrie Irving to a five-year deal. Even if I posted an article within ten minutes of any of these things happening I still would have been number 1,235,873,876,373 in line in the digital pen-o-spheres to say something about the signings. I could have, but that wouldn't change the outcome of what begins on Thursday night and ends mid-April (and prospectively mid-June).
The New Big 3: (from left to right) Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Lebron James.
The more I thought about putting pen to paper or fingers to keys in response to the wild, whirlwind of an offseason the Cleveland Cavaliers had this past summer, the more I realized its futility. If anything, I assumed I'd be jinxing the whole damn thing. Google "Cavs Title Hopes" and within .31 seconds the search engine fires back more than 2.3 million results. What kind of cosmic damage would one more article really do? Well, how much carnage did three extra seconds allow for Michael Jordan to orchestrate in 1989? To be completely honest, I've just been trying to digest everything that has taken place. I liken it to the starving, dehydrated desert wanderer who comes upon another traveler in the hot sun, only to have that person hand them an ice cold bottle of water and point them in the direct of their private helicopter. We've been given the keys to the castle, people. It would only serve history for us to count our chickens before they're worth a cluck.

Right now, we're 0-0, just as good as any other team in the league. To me, that's the beauty of sports. Even with as much fire power as we might appear to have in the arsenal, we're still just as good as teams like Milwaukee or Charlotte or Philadelphia that have already been written off before the season even begins. That's what makes this monster machine called competition go round. Maybe somewhere around the 50-game marker we'll be able to see a clearer picture of where the Cavaliers fall in place in terms of title contention, but as of today, we're second in the standings in the Central Division, and it has nothing to do with Lebron James, Kevin Love, Anderson Varejao, or Kyrie Irving. We're second because of alphabetical ordering.

In two days' time we get our first glimpse of the 2014-2015 Cleveland Cavaliers in real time. The preseason featured a team in transition attempting to gel cohesively in a relatively short amount of time. That said, we held the best record in the preseason (which really means nothing) and only lost in close contests, instead of the blowout beatings we've been notorious for taking over the last four years. Our players look rested and ready, in shape. Coach David Blatt looks calm, reserved, and very much in command. There's a palpable sense of unstated excitement you can almost extract from the air spoken by the players, coaches, and media regarding the team. But I don't want to say too much or make any bold proclamations. We're a long way from Game #82, and even further from any potential NBA Finals appearances, which would represent only the second appearance in franchise history.

At the end of the day, we're still the Cleveland Cavaliers. We're the team that won only 19 games four years ago. We're the team that used to trade away draft picks like they were cancerous. We're the team that lost the best player in the world to free agency four years ago, got swept by an average of six points per game by a seasoned San Antonio team in our only Finals appearance in 2007 (which is really only mildly indicative of the beatings we really took) and hired back the coach we got rid of to keep Lebron (who left) and then fired him again after one season. Our first season in the league we only won 15 games. It got so bad that the original head coach, Bill Fitch, reportedly kept a voodoo skull under his chair on the bench. Our former owner invented cheerleaders and intermission entertainment, while our season records were dwellers in the cellars of the NBA annuls.
The incomparable inaugural Cleveland Cavaliers coach Bill Fitch.
Am I saying don't get excited for the upcoming Cleveland Cavaliers season? No. Get amped. Pull out as much memorabilia you can and wear it to work inappropriately. Paint your cars Wine and Gold and prance down busy streets streaming crate paper bands from light post to light post. I actually implore you to greet strangers, not by saying, "Hello," but by letting out a resounding and triumphant, "Go Cavs!" Find your nearest natural or manmade landmark and yell the very same from the tops of your lungs until you can't breathe and the walls of your vocal chords feel like they might tear. There is so much to be excited about it isn't funny. It's almost to the point where we have a responsibility as fans to be as obnoxious as humanly possible, but not quite. If you run into Minnesota Timberwolves fans, take the time to thank them for Kevin Love. Minnesotans are extremely genial people, good-natured and courteous. Chances are they completely understand and are gracious enough to appreciate your honesty and your own expressed gratitude. If you see a Miami Heat fan and they give you any gripe, remind them where they can stick their year-round sunshine (right next to their three NBA titles).

Pay attention this season. Even if you aren't a basketball fan, my guess is we're about to witness something the NBA has never showcased before. Our team is young, hungry, and talented and with veteran support unseen in recent memory on any other ball club. Each year, teams score tens of thousands of points in competition vying for the same prize. But as much as teams and the media, in particular, look ahead and speculate about how each quarter or each game or month or the entire season might pan out, each year unfolds the exact same way: bucket by bucket. And that's what it's always been about.

Cleveland Cavaliers 2014-2015 Roster:
17 Anderson Varejao – F/C
3 Dion Waiters – G
2 Kyrie Irving – G
18 Mike Miller – G/F
1 James Jones – G/F
31 Shawn Marion – F
8 Matthew Dellavedova – G
13 Tristan Thompson – F/C
23 Lebron James – F
21 A.J. Price – G
53 Alex Kirk – C
12 Joe Harris – G
0 Kevin Love – F/C
89 Lou Amundson – F
33 Brendan Haywood – C