It’s no secret that LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are struggling. They’ve endured a rough stretch of games in the new year, going 6-9 (6 wins and 9 losses) since 1st January. A stretch that has featured further setbacks including Kevin Love’s injury and persistent rumors of low team morale and Isaiah Thomas’ negative influence in the locker room. More crucially, they’ve also lost ground in catching up with Eastern Conference leaders, Boston Celtics, who sit 7.5 games above them.
While the Cavaliers have gone on to dispel any doubts of them being the East’s top dogs in the past, this year it looks different. The Cavaliers’ competition seems much stronger and meaner, and Cleveland’s team chemistry issues are creeping in badly. The Cavs still have the third best record in the East, but there is one damning stat behind it. Against teams with a winning record (i.e teams with a win percentage of .500 or higher), the Cavs are a middling 12-14.
Quite simply put, the Cavaliers have been flat track bullies in the NBA so far. Their January form has arguably put the onus on the other teams in the East to make their mark. In fact, the Cavs are an average 6-6 against the Top 6 sides in the East.
Suffering so many blowout losses is a sign of decline setting in the Cavaliers. Just take a look at the Cavs’ losses and you’ll know. They have lost by an average of 20 points in these nine losses. Their defensive rating during this period has been 111.1, which is 28th in the NBA. Their net rating of -7.2, is also 28th in the league. Abysmal numbers from the reigning Eastern Conference champions.
With the Cavs going into what seems an inescapable downward spiral, we take a look at the 3 teams that can end their three year reign at the Eastern Conference.