Sports Page

​Cleveland Cavaliers 2015-2016 Regular Season

...or The Reason for my Writer's Block

Chad W. Lutz
It's been no secret: ​I've avoided writing about the Cleveland Cavaliers this entire season. I just keep putting it off, and for a number of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is pure laze, and this coming from a two-year Wine and Gold United member. I realize that being lazy really isn't a legitimate reason, especially as a professional writer, but the reason es mi razón número uno, nonetheless. I've been conscious of every single ten-game plateau and had been counting down the days to the opening tip in Chicago back in October since the NBA officially released the season schedules last August. I've even been to seven games, and was witness to two of this season's biggest moments: Lebron's hook-shot game winner over Brooklyn in November and the 40-point spanking put to us by the Golden State Warriors in January. I've literally had more a firsthand account than most people have in ten years following the Cavs, not to mention the games I've watched on TV. 

Really, I've had no excuse. 

Outside of inexplicable ignorant apathy, the other reason that comes to mind is momentum. Despite the loss to Chicago to start the season, the Cavaliers bounced back brilliantly, taking thirteen of their first seventeen games, and really haven't looked back since, as far as standings go. They've been the undisputed favorites coming out of the East since the Finals ended last season and currently hold a 3.5-game lead on second-place Toronto for the top slot in the conference. Lebron has been true to his typical form, our bench has improved with the additions of Channing Frye and Richard Jefferson, and breakout players Matthew Dellavedova and Iman Shumpert have continued playing with consistency. But no matter how much momentum we've had, it's been completely overshadowed by the regular-season juggernaut performances of the Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs. 

Whether you love them or hate them, NBA fans are witnessing something truly awesome, and I don't know if I've allowed myself to fully appreciate everything both of those Western Conference teams have achieved because of my ties to the Cavaliers. Maybe it's because we came so close to beating the Warriors last June in the Finals and I'm just a Jealous Julie they've been able to improve, not just by a few ticks here and there, but by lightyears ahead of the competition. The Warriors and Spurs have been playing out of their minds. I keep telling myself that, in any other season, the Cavaliers' record would have them in the running for the best in the league, if not the best in the league straightaway. Hell, if the Wine and Gold win out, their potential record of 60-22 would rank third-best in franchise history. But that's pittance when you're talking about two teams approaching 70-win records in the same season. It's unheard of.
On Friday, April 1, Lebron James passed NBA legend Oscar Robertson to move into 11th all-time on the leading scorers list.
​And even though it shouldn't matter to me what other teams are doing in the regular season, it's been hard for me to really get excited about Cavaliers basketball outside of the general interest I have in the sport because, by comparison, it really hasn't seemed to matter. But hasn't it? 

The Cavs have put together five win streaks of four games or more this season, with two of streaks those lasting eight games. Lebron James has leap-frogged greats the likes of Jerry West, Reggie Miller, Alex English, John Havlicek, Dominique Wilkens, and Oscar Robertson to currently rank 11th all-time on the NBA career scoring list, all while silently winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors four times, and Player of the Month Honors for the month of February. We've beaten the 53-24 Oklahoma City Thunder by a 23-point margin in Oklahoma, posted a 33-14 record against our conference, and have only lost seven games at The Q all season. We've even set the mighty Spurs down in a lop-sided home contest by 14 points. These are all great things. These are all fantastic things, especially on the heels of a season where Atlanta held the best record in the East and only-and I say only because of what's happening with San Antonio and Golden State-won 60 games. 

Maybe it was dealing Anderson Varejao to the reigning champions that's had me key-shy. Maybe I'm still a little sick to my stomach after the champs beat us during our only two meetings. But it's not just other teams that have me squeamish; there's something internal at work here, too. I've grown tired of watching Kevin Love lollygag on defense for most of the past two seasons, and could do without the general apathy Kyrie Irving seems to play with at any given time. It's even pissed me off that Lebron James has "switches," and that he can become this great player, yeah know, if he feels it's appropriate. I can't even begin to wrap my head around that. As an athlete myself, albeit nowhere near as accomplished as Lebron, it makes my brain itch when I think about all I've pushed and fought just to shave a few seconds off my times, and here's a guy that's apparently been holding back all season. It makes me wonder how many of those losses could have been W's. But that's all lining for the garbage, I suppose. At this point, at any rate. 

Cleveland has a mere five games to go to close out the 2015-2016 campaign. Most of our opponents over the next week are potential playoff matchups, with the exception of the underperforming yet morbidly athletic Milwaukee Bucks and the equally disappointing Chicago Bulls, which will be a good test to see if we're postseason ready. We're also currently riding a three-game win streak that could be extended to match our season-best if all goes according to plan. My guess is we'll see the Big 3 rest in some fashion or another over the remaining five games, just to ensure fresh legs and attitudes for the playoffs. It's still unclear who we'll actually see in the first round, since Indiana and Detroit are in a virtual deadlock at the moment, and Chicago barking at both their heels. But, one thing is for certain: the playoffs are a completely different ballgame. And all we can do is take things one game at a time. 

And so, let the familiar mantra ring: Let's Go Cavs!