Even in victory, the Cleveland Cavaliers cannot catch a break.
They’re hurting in the big man department with the losses of Anderson Varejao and Kevin Love. Kyrie Irving has been playing with a sore right foot since Game 2 of the first round with the Boston Celtics. Common sense would state the load is entirely on LeBron James.
It could not have come at a worse time for the Cavs.
They’re currently embroiled in a semifinal fight with their division rival Chicago Bulls. The Cavs must contend with a healthy lineup led by a resurgent Derrick Rose.
Sunday’s Game 4 proved the Cavs still have life left, thanks to their superstar.
The game was tied with 1.5 seconds left in regulation. James got the ball and hit a two for the win: Cavaliers 86, Bulls 84.
It should be as simple as that. But it never is with LeBron James, isn’t it?
Cavs coach David Blatt drew up a play that had James inbounding the ball. That wouldn’t make sense for your top star to pass the ball in.
James took it upon himself to want the ball in crunch time. He told reporters after the game:
“I was supposed to take the ball out,” James continued. “I told coach, ‘There’s not way I’m taking the ball out, unless I can shoot it over the backboard and it goes in.’ I told him, ‘Have somebody else take the ball out, give me the ball, and everybody get out of the way.'”
That shouldn’t be the concern. How many times did the best players want that ball to make that last second shot? Michael Jordan probably lost count at how many times he wanted to end the game on his shot.
However, the issue comes from Blatt. Apparently, Blatt really did have James inbounding the ball. Good thing for Cleveland that James wanted to finish the game out. Otherwise, it might’ve been a different outcome leading into Game 5.
Unfortunately, Blatt’s gaffe couldn’t have taken place at a worse time.
Cavs swingman J.R. Smith admitted he was perplexed by the play call. He shouldn’t be the only one. Why would you have your top guy passing the ball when the entire playoffs are on the line?
— Kyle (@KCBIC) May 11, 2015
That wasn’t only Blatt’s mistake in the game. With the game still tied at 84, Blatt tried calling timeout. Yet, the Cavs didn’t have any timeouts left. Assistant coach Tyronn Lue stopped Blatt from costing the Cavs the game.
It’s not looking well for the inexperienced Blatt. Granted, he’s coached games before but not at an NBA level. It shows the pressure mounting up, and that’s not what the Cavs need.
Every team needs their coach to hold that line and remain calm in high-pressure situations. David Blat is clearly not that guy.
Thus enters the Cavaliers’ dilemma. Their biggest detriment isn’t their injured list. It’s their coach, David Blatt. He can still make up for this, but the changes must begin now if the Cavs even hope of reaching the NBA Finals.
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