Earlier this year, the Cleveland Cavaliers looked like one of the most dysfunctional teams in the league. They offense was sloppy, the players looked lethargic, and David Blatt got canned after a 30-11 start to the season.
The chemistry just wasn’t there.
Well, now it is. In fact, the Cavs look like they have the best chemistry in NBA history.
“It’s funny that that seems to be the case at this point, yet not so shockingly for those of us who know LeBron James,” NBA-TV reporter Kristen Ledlow said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “This is a guy who, of course, takes a lot of heat – no pun intended there – and a lot of criticism for whatever it may be across the board and across the many years of us having enjoyed his play. But he is one of the greatest leaders this game has known, and he is the kind of guy that makes everybody around him better. He’s the kind of guy that demands excellence from those on the floor with him. It’s just not surprising to me that any team you place him on (has success).”
This year’s Cavs are no exception. They’re 9-0 in the playoffs, during which they’re averaging 108.6 points per game, they’re finally sharing the basketball, and they’re hitting three-pointers at a rate – 15.7 per game – that would make even the Golden State Warriors blush.
Remember last year when James led the Cavs in points, rebounds and assists in the Finals? You know, when it was basically James, Tristan Thompson and Matthew Dellavedova trying to defeat Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors?
Yeah, that team is no more.
“He ended up putting that team in a Game 6 of the NBA Finals,” Ledlow said, still stunned. “Now we see that team fully healthy, an entire season under their belt to build that chemistry. So it’s not so much surprising, I think, as it is just a long time coming.”
Kyrie Irving (24.7 points per game), James (23.6), Kevin Love (18.3) and J.R. Smith (11.4) are all averaging double figures for Cleveland this postseason. James is shooting 52.4 percent from the field, while Irving (52.7 percent on threes), Smith (48.4) and Love (44.8), among others, have been on fire from distance.
Cleveland, which has won four of its last five games by double digits, hosts Toronto in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET. The Cavs won Game 1, 115-84.