All is not well in title town, the Cleveland Cavaliers are barely playing .500 basketball, struggling against any team over .500 in either conference and LeBron James is tossing his goggles minutes into a game out of mere frustration. Seriously though the Cavaliers look vulnerable and now only have a half game lead for the No. 1 seed in the eastern conference.
The Celtics and even the Wizards (crazy considering how far back they were when 2017 began) are breathing down the Cavs neck and loosening the stranglehold Cleveland has had on the top seed since LeBron’s return in 2014.
So that begs the question, do the Cavaliers need the No. 1 seed?
In my estimation the answer is no. While a potential Game 7 in Boston would be dicey because of that crazy environment and their home court advantage, the reality is that this Cavaliers team is seasoned and when it comes to winning huge NBA playoff games on the road if need be, they have been there and done that (see: 2016 NBA Finals).
The Cavaliers still have the best player in the world and the best accumulation of depth, experience and talent in the conference without question, so whether they are having to get it done in Boston or Washington, they can.
The bigger issue may be if the Cavaliers can get their groove back before it’s too late. Re-integrating J.R. Smith, working Kevin Love back to health and trying to acquaint Deron Williams with their team has taken away some of their trademark chemistry on the court. It is more than obvious that they are bored with the regular season and ready to defend their title.
Thinking they can just “turn it back on” at will is a scary proposition though and not a guarantee.
While getting the No. 1 seed may not be of paramount importance for the Cavaliers, they need to regain their intensity and play well over their final 10 games if they want to position themselves to return to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.