With the Cavs in win-now mode, signing a project like Tavares less than 24 hours before their final regular season game seems odd, right? Now, the Cavaliers can certainly play good defense, as they proved in last year’s Finals, but the past several games have cast a shadow of doubt on the defending champions. With starting center Tristan Thompson missing the last four games due to a sprained right thumb, Sanders has played in just two significant (non garbage time) minutes, which has led to the wine and gold releasing the 28-year-old and experimenting with 7-foot-3 center, Tavares.
NOTES: Raptors C Jonas Valanciunas connected on his first 3-pointer this season, with 5:18 left in the second quarter. James, when prompted about the recent struggles, reportedly said, “I’ve got the answer”.
James played 47 minutes on Sunday and hinted afterwards he could miss the Miami game – the third time in the Cavs’ last four trips to South Beach that he’ll sit out against his former team. Although the Raptors have not announced anything yet, do not expect to see a lot of Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan against Cleveland. “I’m glad we got out of that game without him reaggravating it at all”.
Over and over, Cavaliers players have bemoaned the lack of energy and defensive execution displayed in the past several games, but Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said now is the time for his team to “put up or shut up”. Jones has to sign with the team by then to be eligible for the playoffs.
“We have a good chance to win it all”, James said after Thursday’s team practice.
The NBA regular season wraps up on Wednesday night.
Additionally, James has made six straight trips to the NBA Finals, four with the Miami Heat and two with the Cavaliers, and has the internal motivation necessary to push his teammates through the Eastern Conference once more.
Last year, the Cavaliers went 7-0 at home through the first three rounds of the playoffs, and 2-1 against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. The other, the Cavs’ blew a 26-point lead.
“What’s insane is that this season seemed like it went by faster than the one previous year”, Lue said.
“He wanted to play a little more, but you’re playing great, he was able to catch the ball and finish around the rim and get some offensive rebounds”, Lue said.
Some of the faces in the locker room have changed, but Cleveland’s core (which starts and ends with the Big Three) is not much different, as the coach noted. “But when things don’t go your way and adversity hits, how can you get back to the point that nobody thinks you can get back to?”