Cavaliers Won’t Win the 2015 NBA Finals
Only two weeks into the 2014-15 NBA Season and I am ready to make my first “way too early prediction of year.” The Cleveland Cavaliers will not win the 2015 NBA Finals. No team in the last decade has had the emotional and talent transformation that the Cleveland Cavaliers experienced this offseason. The acquisition of LeBron James, Kevin Love, Mike Miller, and Shawn Marion have Cleveland Cavaliers fans already buying champagne and getting ready for their first ever title celebration. Here is why that might be premature.
Frankenstein Seldom Works
Basketball, like maybe no other major sport, allows teams to pick up 1 or 2 stars in the offseason and become a significantly different team. These “Frankenstein” teams are hyped early and often as championship contenders, but seldom do they actually pull off a championship in their first season. Take a look back at a couple of these Frankenstein teams over the last few seasons.
2012-2013 – Los Angeles Lakers
Stars Added: Dwight Howard, Steve Nash
Result: Lost Western Conference Playoffs 1st Round
2010-2011- Miami Heat
Stars Added : LeBron James, Chris Bosh
Result: Lost NBA Finals
2010-2011 – New York Knicks
Stars Added: Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire
Result: Lost Eastern Conference Playoffs 1st Round
2007-2008 – Boston Celtics
Stars Added: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen
Result: Won NBA Finals
Why do Frankenstein teams fail in their first season? There are a number of reasons, but the biggest might be chemistry. Throwing a bunch of stars together ensures that you have a team of players that have all proven that they can play at an extremely high level, but says nothing about their ability to play at a high level with each other. If the last 4 seasons of NBA basketball have taught us anything, it’s that chemistry wins championships. The 2010 Dallas Mavericks defeated a significantly more talented Miami Heat squad in the NBA Finals, because they played as a team. LeBron James and Dwayne Wade dominated the first 3 quarters of almost every game in the series, but couldn’t out talent the Mavericks in the 4th quarter. Similarly, last season the San Antonio Spurs put on an absolute clinic in team first basketball. Sure they were fully loaded with talented players, but watching the San Antonio offense swing the ball was a thing of beauty. Team chemistry is something that is impossible to master in a single offseason. This struggle is already apparent in the Cavaliers, who have lost 3 of their first 4 games. It looks like they have never played together before, and that’s because they haven’t.
LeBron James is one of the best defensive players of this generation, maybe of all time. He has already been NBA All-Defensive first team 5 times in his career, and NBA All-Defensive second team once. The addition of James instantly improves what was one of the worst defensive teams in the league last season. But the Cavaliers are defensively limited in the most important area, the paint. Kevin Love hasn’t proven that he can play consistent defense ever, and the Cavaliers paint presence will fall on Brendan Haywood, Alex Kirk, and Anderson Varejao. The last 3 teams to win the NBA finals had names like Tim Duncan, Chris Bosh, and Tyson Chandler guarding the bucket. In the 4th quarter of playoff games, who is going to keep Derrick Rose, Deron Williams, Tony Parker, or James Harden from attacking the basket?
Last season’s Miami Heat team was a perfect example of the physical toll that playing deep into the playoffs has on players. The 2-time defending champion Heat were shells of their former selves in the 2014 NBA Finals and it was clear that they were feeling the effects of playing into June for 3 straight seasons. The Cavaliers will face this problem from the other end of the spectrum. Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, and a large number of the Cavaliers top players have never played in a playoff series before, let alone made a trip to the NBA Finals. The team does have a number of veterans like James, Miller, and Marion who can council the inexperienced players, but chances are, they will be feeling the fatigue come playoff time (assuming they make it).
Key Cavaliers Games
Despite my prediction of the Cavaliers falling short of a title, there is no team that will be more exciting to watch over the course of the 2014-15 NBA Season. The hype of adding Lebron James and Kevin Love has driven up the demand of Cavaliers tickets. Here are 7 of the can’t miss games on the Cavaliers schedule with their current average ticket price.
November 19th vs. San Antonio Spurs – $248
December 19th vs. Brooklyn Nets – $217
December 25th at Miami Heat – $365
January 4th vs. Dallas Mavericks – $204
January 19th vs. Chicago Bulls – $553
January 25th vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – $517
April 15th vs. Washington Wizards – $440