LeBron James has made it well known that he likes to turn up his play after the All-Star break, and he hopes that his team follows suit.
The Cavaliers had a poor month of January to say the very least. The team finished with a sub-.500 record and they looked wholly uninterested in what it is that they were doing on the court.
In February, they turned it around, only losing once in the month as they looked to make a strong push in the stretch run of the season, but as March shined upon the NBA, this plan took a bit of a hit. After resting James and Irving in Miami, the team turned around Monday and lost to the Heat in Cleveland in a game where only Irving and James were in double figures in scoring. After a loss to the Pistons on Thursday last week, the Cavaliers dropped their third game in a row. This has to be a bad sign, right?
Not so much.
LeBron James has been playing out of his mind lately. He has had 7 double-doubles in his last seven games and 4 triple-doubles in the same time frame. He is shooting 54% from the field this season while shooting 39% from deep this year, so he himself is playing great, but as of late, his numbers have been even better. In February, James shot over 60% from the floor and over 50% from downtown.
This team goes as James goes, and James is running like a finely-tuned machine this season, so it will not be a surprise if the Cavaliers run rough-shot through the Eastern Conference in the playoffs this year. The team will need to integrate new pieces with known commodities as the season winds down - meshing players like JR Smith with Kyle Korver, Deron Williams, and Derrick Williams, and there will be a challenge involved with determining which lineups will be the most successful going forward. Kevin Love is traveling with the team again, so as he gets healthier with each passing week, James, Irving, Love, and coach Lue will have to sit down and look to see who fits with what lineups the best.
There will be a possible lineup with Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, JR Smith, Kevin Love, and Channing Frye that would be able to shoot the lights out of the ball and play through Love in the post, but it would most certainly be a poor defensive lineup. This lineup would allow both Irving and James to rest while Deron Williams spread the ball around to both open shooters and Love in the post.
What needs to be taken away from this is that teams led by LeBron James will always hit rough patches in the regular season where it shows that they are just bored with the monotony of the grind. Come mid-late March; the team will begin to click on all cylinders. How is this known? LeBron James teams haven't lost more than 1 game in the first round since 2007-2008, and have not lost a first round game since 2012 against the New York Knicks.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been getting healthier over the last few weeks, and as the Playoffs come closer and closer, they will look to find which lineups are their most dangerous from downtown, which ones James could pick other teams apart best with, and which ones will be helpful in bringing the Larry O'Brien trophy back to the 216.