When we expect a lot from them, they disappoint us. When we lose all faith in them, they show us a glimmer of hope. I will give you one chance to guess the team I am referring to. It is the Cleveland Cavaliers. Ever since LeBron announced his return to the city of Cleveland, everybody and their mothers appointed them as the new Eastern conference champions. Taking into consideration the time it would take for the team to mesh, it was expected that the season’s record would not reflect the finished product. They underperformed for the first half of the season causing panic and rumors to spread about the premature conference champs. However, there is something different about the team we have seen over the last two weeks. This is not the same team that had lackadaisical tendencies with no synergy. This team is a one with players who run with enthusiasm and make the highlight plays we have been waiting for. What changed the Cavaliers into what we knew they could be?
The answer that everyone is getting is the two week hiatus LeBron took to heal his body. LeBron James has played a crazy amount of minutes for a little over a decade in this league. It was inevitable that it would take a toll on him but James at 70% is still the best player on the court in most situations. So in my opinion a healthy LeBron is important but it was not reason for Cleveland’s turn around or 6 game win streak.
LeBron’s absence did help the team in a weird way. It killed any notion that the supporting cast was good enough to win a championship. The Miami Heat were not the most spectacular team when James was not on the court but they could hold their own. Unlike the Cleveland Cavaliers who went on a horrendous losing streak while LeBronless. They made a trade and acquired players that have changed their season around. J.R. Smith, Timofey Mozgov and Iman Shumpert are the real reason for the turnaround.
LeBron has taken a liking to his new center, Mozgov, and believes the team can only go up from this point. For so many years the contenders out of the East consisted of the Heat, Pacers, and Celtics. With all this player movement, we have new contenders. The Cavaliers finally seem ready to impose their will and take their expected place a top the East.
Fantasy foresight: Timofey Mozgov has been the glue that has been holding the Cavaliers team together. Think back to what NBA analyst were saying about the Cavaliers. They were not hustling and were giving up too many easy baskets. Well Mozgov fixed all of that. He defends the basket in key possessions of the game and will probably average out at two blocks a game in a Cavs Jersey. I guarantee that LeBron favorite aspect about Mozgov is that he is a strong finisher and in the event he gets fouled, he can knock down his free throws (rare for centers). Statistics-wise, he is a center who will occasionally get you a double-double with a field goal percentage over 55% nightly. It is worth noting that Joakim Noah (injured and underperforming) is owned in most standard leagues while Timofey Mozgov is not.