The defending NBA champion Cavs are in a mid-season slump and star LeBron James is losing patience. James publicly criticized the front office Monday, following the team’s fifth loss in seven games. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto explains what’s going on with James and the Cavs and what they must do to get back on track:
1. Rest your star
Pluto says that LeBron James is averaging 38 minutes on the court per game, more than any other player in the NBA. "He is not superman,” Pluto says.
And, Pluto says James, in his 14th season, has played the sixth most minutes in NBA history when regular season and playoffs are combined.
Pluto recommends the Cavs gives James a little bit of time off.
"They gave LeBron a mini vacation a couple years ago -- like nine days off. I’m not sure I’d go that long, but get him out of there. He’s probably worn down."
Pluto says the Cavs also need to learn to win without James. He says since James returned to Cleveland, the Cavs are 4-18 when he’s not on the court.
2. Play defense
Pluto says the Cavs are playing poor defense. On Monday, they gave up 124 points to the New Orleans Pelicans, who were without their star, Anthony Davis.
"For the first time in more than 10 years, a LeBron James team has given up at least 100 points in 10 straight games. They’re not playing defense; they’re just trying to outscore people.
"They forget when you’re defending champions, teams come at you harder."
3. Find a backup point guard
LeBron James vented about the front office's lack of roster moves, specifically failing to get a backup point guard for Kyrie Irving.
"LeBron sometimes likes to coach and sometimes likes to be the general manager. Last year, it was a lot of the coaching and this year he’s wandering into general manager territory," Pluto says.
Pluto says James misses Matthew Dellavadova, who became a backup star for the team but signed a big contract with the Milwaukee Bucks in the off season.
"They’ve not been able to find a backup point to help. Kyrie Irving is also playing too many minutes. In his sixth NBA season, Irving is coming off a fractured knee cap a year ago."
Not time to panic
Pluto says the NBA trading deadline is the middle of February and he expects the team will sign someone.
"Right now, this is the time of the year where it feels like you’ve been playing forever, but it feels like the playoffs are still a long ways away. And they are. So, that’s when teams hit the blues. But, good teams find a way out of a slump."
And Pluto says James is committed to cementing his legacy. "LeBron’s been to the last six NBA Finals and if you had a bet, I think he would be going to No. 7 this year."