Let’s be honest. The Cleveland Cavaliers had a cake walk to the NBA Finals this season, as they did the year before. LeBron has made it to the Finals the last 6 seasons, which, yes, is testament to how great of a player he is, but it also showed us how weak the Eastern conference is. However, the tides have slowly changed, and I believe that this season we will see the Eastern Conference at it’s best in at least a decade. With the growing strength in the East, and the West, well, still being the West; I truly believe that this is the year that LeBron will miss the Finals.
1. The Cavaliers have done little to improve their awful bench.
The Cavaliers have had a sub-par bench for the last two seasons, with their best options being Matthew Dellavedova, Richard Jefferson, and Iman Shumpert. There is still plenty of Free Agency to go, but the Cavaliers have done little to fix that problem, and let’s be real, it is a problem. The Cavaliers were absolutely exposed against a deeper Warriors team in the first 4 games of the NBA Finals, and would have been beat 4-1 if not for some stellar play from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
2. Cavaliers have no money to spend
While some teams have had millions to dole out with the new salary cap, the Cavaliers are not one of those teams. The Cavaliers already have $71 million committed in contracts to just five players: Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, and Tristian Thompson. That money isn’t going to go down after they re-sign Lebron James to what will probably be a $30+ million/year deal.
3. The Cavaliers still don’t have chemistry
After two seasons playing together it is clear that the Cavaliers don’t have team chemistry. No really, they don’t. Their offense consists of LeBron or Kyrie in isolation, with the occasional kick out to Kevin Love or J.R. Smith. Kevin Love is clearly unhappy, and has never fit in with Kyrie and LeBron. There have been talks about Kevin Love being Traded to the Kings for DeMarcus Cousins, but is that really any better? DeMarcus Cousins is arguably the best Center in the game, but the Cavaliers don’t run an offense fit for Centers. The Cavaliers offense is isolation for either Kyrie or LeBron, and that will not work with the hot headed DeMarcus Cousins.
4. The East just got a whole lot better…
This has been a crazy free agency thus far, and the clear cut winner has been the Eastern Conference. The Pacers, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, Boston Celtics, Charlotte Hornets, and of course, the Toronto Raptors are all going to be very good this year. As will the Wizards, Bucks, and maybe even the Orlando Magic. Things won’t exactly be easy in the East.
5. The West is still, the West
LeBron has only beaten the West in the Finals 3 out of 7 times, and for good reason. While the East has become more well rounded, there is no question that the best teams are still in the West. The Warriors, Spurs, and the Thunder (if Kevin Durant stays), are superior to the Cavaliers, in my mind. Don’t sleep on the Grizzlies, Rockets, Clippers, and the Trail Blazers, either. Even if LeBron does make it to a 7th straight finals appearance, the odds are stacked against him.