The Cavaliers currently sit at 6-13, good enough to be tied for the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference. The team has pretty horrible so far, as it has not been the start the Wine & Gold faithful had hoped for. With that said, the team has a lot going for them right now, but have not been able to put the pieces together.
For starters, the Eastern Conference (with the exception of Indiana and Miami) is pitiful. As of today, 11-10 is good enough to be the third seed. In comparison, the third seed in the West is 13-4. Embarrassing. Now, granted, there are still about 60 games left in the season. But the early season struggles for most teams are a sign of what is to come for the rest of the season, so the Cavs could possibly sneak into the playoffs playing near .500 ball.
With that being said, I do think the Cavs are in position to start winning games consistently. The main reason is their health. Right now, the team has yet to deal with a major injury to one of their core players. They are all active and seeing court time. At the start of the year, many believed that if the team could remain healthy, they might be playoff bound. Well, as of right now, they are healthy, and as a result, I think they are poised to turn the corner and get some wins on the near future.
The biggest surprise so far, as it pertains to health, is not that Kyrie has played in all 18 games or that Anderson Varejao has yet to be hurt; it is that Andrew Bynum, our coveted free agent signing who is notorious for spending more time on the injury report than on the court, has missed only four games so far. And only two of the missed games were because of his knees.
He took a leave of absence in mid-November for personal reasons, which caused him to miss two games. He sat out against Indiana on Nov. 2 due to knee soreness, and he sat out on Nov. 9 in the second half of back-to-backs against Philadelphia.
People questioned whether he would even play a minute for the Wine & Gold all year long. With that said, I will take Bynum missing only two games so far. And the cherry on top is that he has actually played effective basketball.
He has not been the Bynum from 2011-12, when he averaged 19 points and nearly 12 rebounds, but he has been showing flashes of his old self. His best game so far was on the last day of November in a win against Chicago. In a season high 30 minutes, he scored 20 points to go along with 10 rebounds. He also blocked five shots. The Bynum that they hoped to see when they penned a two-year agreement with him in July has finally shown his face in Cleveland. And I am glad to have him.
The recent emergence means an actual NBA caliber big man can call the banks of the Cuyahoga River home. The recent emergence means The Wild Thing, Anderson Varejao, is back to the role that made him a fan favorite during the LeBron era: being a bench player. And the recent emergence means if the rest of team gets on board to make a holiday push, Bynum will be on the first car.
I know it has only been a few games, but I like what I am seeing. I am confident it can continue if the front office and Coach Brown look to Greg Popovich, who Brown was an assistant under, for an example of how to deal with the seven footer.
In recent years, Popovich has been known to rest his aging superstars, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, on the second night of back-to-backs or after a long road trip. Brown has done it once with Bynum this year, and if continues to play it safe with Bynum, I think his name will be absent on the injury report.
The East is a mess right now. I doubt it can remain this bad for the entire year. But while it is so atrocious, the Wine & Gold need to make a run. And as it sits today, I am confident they can do so.