The reigning title champs Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t worried heading into the post season, and Head Coach Tyronn Lue is fully confident in his team to power forward despite a slump concluding the regular season. “All the talking is over, what we can do and what we’re going to do. So, we got to put up or shut up.”
The last six weeks for the wine and gold has been rocky, dropping 10-14 since the end of March, including heart breaking back to back losses to the Atlanta Hawks, Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors. Despite the perceived lackadaisical approach to season enders and questionable defense, as long as the team is healthy, the playoffs are a new start for the defending Champs.
“We were able to come out of this long season with a lot of injuries. We played through it and our guys got through it. Now the Playoffs are here and we have all 15 guys healthy,” Lue declared. “That’s the most important thing to me, to this organization and to our team. With that being said, I feel very confident we have a good run in us.”
Coach Lue looked forward to the first round of the playoffs, versus the seventh seeded Indiana Pacers. Noting Paul George‘s explosive bursts and Jeff Teague’s craftiness , the Cavs are buckling down for a showdown.
“We had some key injuries this year that set us back, but for the most part, it’s pretty much the same,” Lue said. “I think the East has gotten better. Toronto has gotten better. Boston has gotten better. Indiana is playing good basketball. The Bulls finally figured out what they’re going to do, who they’re going to be. Same thing with Milwaukee. So, teams have gotten better, and that’s just the biggest difference to me. It’s going to be a bigger challenge for us this year.”
The Cavs fell 98-83 to the Raptors at the Quicken Loans Arena in downtown Cleveland Wednesday, April 12, as Tristan Thompson returned to the play, with LeBron James inactive and Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving did not play per the coach’s decision.
During a pre-game interview, David Griffin, Cavs General Manager, elaborated on his team’s efforts: “If we’re the good version of us, we’ll be better [than last year’s championship team]. We’re more talented than we were at this time last year. We’ve been through more, we’re more hardened and seasoned than we were at this time last year. This team lost two starters and made it to The Finals and was two games away from winning a championship two years ago, and most of these same guys are the ones who did that. So I’m no less confident. I’m more pissed off that we put ourselves in this position, because we certainly didn’t need to. But damn, we’re good when we put ourselves here. That’s what we do.”
And it’s now or never.
Watch: Indiana Pacers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers – Playoffs Round 1
Saturday, April 15 at 3:00pm EST on ABC
Photo credit: Ken Blaze