Do The Cavaliers Currently Have What it Takes to Repeat?


Cavaliers and Warriors Headed for Grudge Match?

As they get set to begin defense of their first-ever NBA title, the Cleveland Cavaliers once again have to deal with the looming specter of the Golden State Warriors once again blocking their path.

In 2015, key injuries to forward Kevin Love and point guard Kyrie Irving doomed them to a loss in six games to Steve Kerr’s squad. Last season, three consecutive stirring victories over the Warriors made the Cavs the first team ever to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals.

Facing a Potent New Weapon

Just two weeks after that Game 7 victory, Golden State pulled off the coup of the free agent season by signing forward Kevin Durant. That put the onus on Cleveland to try and match that in some fashion. The best they could do was re-sign LeBron James to a three-year, $100 million contract and trade for veteran Mike Dunleavy.

That doesn’t necessarily damage the Cavaliers’ chances. However, the retirement of Mo Williams and departure of free agent Matthew Dellavedova limits the depth behind Irving. With the sixth-year guard’s history of injuries, it can be risky to only have 5-9 second round pick Kay Felder behind him.

jr-smithSmith Back in the Fold

The contract negotiations between the team and free agent shooting guard J.R. Smith ended less than two weeks before the start of the regular season. The four-year, $57 million deal means that the only victim in this tale appears to be owner Dan Gilbert’s wallet.

Smith is a streaky shooter but he can take over a game when he’s hot. Last season, he played effectively in the finals, a severe contrast from his disappearance in the 2015 matchup.

Center of Attention

Tristan Thompson had been serving in a sixth man role, but will now start in the middle. While he gives the team a world-class rebounder, he needs to pick up his offensive game for the Cavs to counter the Warriors’ addition of Durant.

In the paint, the Cavaliers have swapped free agent departure Timofey Mozgov with veteran Chris Andersen as reserve center. Given Mozgov’s meager contributions last season, anything Andersen contributes will at least maintain the status quo.

Love Will Conquer All

Almost from the time that Cleveland acquired him in August 2014, assorted media and many fans have been trying to unload Love, claiming that he doesn’t fit into the team’s lineup. Given the pronouncements of general manager David Griffin, head coach Tyronn Lue and, perhaps most importantly, James himself, that won’t be happening.

Look to the Trade Deadline

Last season, the Cavaliers were able to pick up veteran Channing Frye at the trade deadline. This season, they have a $9.6 million trade exception that will allow them to maneuver when February’s deal making comes up again. Ultimately, the value of the player the Cavs get will go a long way in determining whether they win it all again.

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