‘Bored’ Cavs

Business World - - WORLD SPORTS - AN­THONY L. CUAYCONG AN­THONY L. CUAYCONG has been writ­ing Court­side since Busi­nessWorld in­tro­duced a Sports section in 1994. He is the Se­nior Vice-Pres­i­dent and Gen­eral Man­ager of Ba­sic En­ergy Corp.

Okay. Now it’s of­fi­cial. The Cava­liers are bored. They’re not suf­fi­ciently mo­ti­vated by the grind of the reg­u­lar sea­son as to have to man­u­fac­ture chal­lenges in or­der to get worked up. How else ex­plain why LeBron James took a shot at Knicks rookie Frank Nti­lik­ina a day be­fore they were sched­uled to burn rub­ber at the Gar­den? And how else ex­plain the way they go through the mo­tions early, and then aim for the win late?

Sure, the man­ner in which the Cava­liers claim vic­to­ries can make for ex­cit­ing hoops. Yes­ter­day, for in­stance, they spot­ted the Knicks’ 23 points with two minutes and change left in the third quar­ter be­fore putting their noses to the grind­stone. And they be­came a sight to be­hold, dis­play­ing the type of suf­fo­cat­ing de­fense that be­lied their league-worst rat­ing and the brand of of­fense that high­lighted their three Fi­nals runs.

In other words, the Cava­liers still have “it.” Pre­cisely be­cause they are led by James, they can­not but be deemed le­git­i­mate con­tenders for the hard­ware. Un­for­tu­nately, the Larry O’Brien Tro­phy is not earned by con­stant flir­ta­tions with dis­as­ter. Al­ready, they’ve de­vel­oped bad — make that very bad — habits that fig­ure to sink them at some point in their cam­paign. Hav­ing been there and done that, they no doubt feel they have a switch that they can sim­ply turn on at the ap­pro­pri­ate time. Well, they’re wrong.

Ad­mit­tedly, the Cava­liers will get bet­ter with time. Once im­me­di­ate-past Most Valu­able Player can­di­date Isa­iah Thomas re­turns from in­jury, head coach Ty­ronn Lue’s ro­ta­tions will be­come less ran­dom and the wine and gold won’t look as lost. On the other hand, there is cause to con­tend that they’re dig­ging a hole that could prove be too big to climb out of. It’s bad enough that all the other noted con­tenders are get­ting bet­ter and not sim­ply stay­ing put. It’s even worse con­sid­er­ing that they know they’ll ul­ti­mately be up against the stan­dard-set­ting War­riors.

And so the Cava­liers need to get their acts to­gether, and fast. They would do well to stop tend­ing to self-in­flicted wounds and start deal­ing dam­age to oth­ers and not them­selves. Else, they’ll be ru­ing a wasted op­por­tu­nity and fac­ing the very real threat of once

again los­ing their Prodi­gal Son.

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