By Myles Jackson ’17, Sports Editor
After their third straight loss, the Cleveland Cavaliers are officially out of what LeBron James called the “honeymoon stage.” Ever since their historic comeback win in the NBA championship against the Golden State Warriors, the Cavaliers have been on cloud-nine. However, with three straight losses and a 4-3 record on the road, Cleveland fans have a reason to be worried about the state of their team.
In their most recent 111-105 loss to the Chicago Bulls, LeBron’s former teammate Dwayne Wade stepped up, as he always does in big games, with 24 points to be the leading scorer for the Bulls. James scored a total of 27 points and tallied 13 assists, but he also had eight turnovers—a season high. Cleveland’s problems also stemmed from the defensive side of the court; the team gave up a whopping 78 points in the paint to Chicago. This is not the first time the Cavaliers have been outscored in the paint, as they allowed the Milwaukee Bucks to score 68 to their 34 points in the paint and similarly let the Los Angeles Clippers dominate the inside.
Kyrie Irving thinks that the losing streak is “just basketball,” and the fact that the team is full of competitors will make up for their missteps. However, as a more experienced player, LeBron understands the problems that can come as a result of not playing hard every night. James feels as though his team is still riding on their championship victory last year, and they didn’t come in with the intense mindset necessary to win consistently: “You’ve got to battle every night…last year is last year, and after ring night, it’s over with.” It’s the first time head coach Tyronn Lue has experienced a three-game losing streak, and it’s the second of LeBron’s career since he returned to Cleveland. The difference between the losing streak this year and last year is that the Cavs did not have a healthy Kyrie, who was still out at that point because of his knee, and James did not play in one of the games.
When Kevin Durant made the decision to go to Golden State and play with the Western Conference champions of last year, many thought the regular season would be pointless. The Warriors would dominate the West and the Cavaliers would easily win the East for a rematch of last season. It turned out to be quite the contrary, as demonstrated by the Cavaliers three game losing streak and the Warrior’s double-overtime loss to the Rockets. This regular season is far from irrelevant and has been full of thrillers already, pointing to an exciting season ahead. The Cavs have a small lead on the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference standings, and play them in a very important game on December 5th. LeBron James and crew had a close 121-117 victory against Toronto early in November, and will have to find some footing to beat them and stay atop of the Eastern Conference.