The NFL season has officially concluded meaning all attention is now drawn to the home stretch of the NBA season with eyes on the eight best teams of each conference. One of those teams includes the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have just won their 11th straight game after defeating the Sixers.
LeBron James’ resurgence and the front office’s roster transactions have certainly fueled this success as Cleveland now looks like a completely different team than they did just a few weeks ago. This Cavs winning streak is the longest since they won 13 straight from Jan. 16 to February 11 back in 2010.
James has now made his way into the MVP conversation with his sensational play since returning from injuries. The Cavs, now at 30-20 on the season, were a woeful 1-8 with LeBron out of the lineup during their early season struggles. They recently defeated the Portland Trailblazers without James to improve that record to 2-8, but needed 55 points from Kyrie Irvin to do so.
Stephen Curry, James Harden and Anthony Davis are playing out of their minds this season. Curry’s Warriors lead the Western Conference and own the NBA’s best record at 37-8 and he’s played phenomenally, leading the NBA in real plus-minus. James Harden is second in that category and his team sits at third in the West. And he’s done most of his damage sans Dwight Howard, who continues to battle injuries and is expected to be sidelined for at least another month.
Anthony Davis, who is third in that aforementioned plus minus stat, has his team fighting for a playoff spot. In my estimation, missing the postseason would automatically eliminate him from this conversation.
So at about the halfway mark in the season, it seems like James has climbed the MVP ladder and sits in the top-4. He has an assist percentage of 36.1, which means that his teammates really benefit from him being on the floor.
On the season, LeBron is averaging 26.4 points, 7.3 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game and has a PER of 26.49. He has alluded to and attributed this success to the freshness he feels on the floor. James said that the two-week hiatus helped him significantly.
Coming back to Cleveland was emotional for him and it took him some time to get acclimated with his new teammates. That may be the reason for his 49% field-goal percentage (the lowest since the ’08-’09 season) and the four turnovers per game, which is the highest average of his career. And judging his numbers, that field-goal percentage is still incredible, but it speaks to how his amazing play over the last few seasons has increased the standards by which we judge him.
The four-time league MVP is doing his absolute best to get his team into the playoffs playing at a high-level. It might be tough for him to erase what Curry and Harden have done all season, but he is surely climbing the ladder quickly.
Cleveland is currently the fifth seed in the East, but only are 3.5 games back of the Toronto Raptors for second place. If they can somehow make a run and capture the second seed with James continuing to play magnificent basketball, he might make a case for his fifth MVP award.
Amidst all the rumors of the Cavs possibly parting ways with first-year head coach David Blatt, and blatant team frustrations on and off the court, somehow the King has dominated enough to put all the negative synergy surrounding this group in the rear-view mirror.
J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgof are clearly proving to be big-time acquisitions that may land Cavs GM David Griffin an Executive of the Year award. But this team is only going to go as far as James goes, especially when you have Kevin Love, who continues to struggle, shoot 1-of-7 in the first quarter and 0-of-0 for the rest of the game against Philly.
The greatness of the two-time champion can definitely usurp a plethora of negative things on this team. Will that be enough to land him an MVP and another ring? That remains to be seen.