Can a team that's won 9 of its' first 12 games feel like it's underperforming? Yes, if that team is coming off a trip to the NBA Finals, and actually improved its' roster over the summer. The Cavaliers expect better, not necessarily in terms of wins through the first month, but certainly in terms of effort. As LeBron said following Thursday's win over the Bucks, a game in which the Cavaliers nearly blew a 21-pt lead, before holding on to win by five, "We definitely don't want to keep putting ourselves in this position, but the one thing you can't control is injuries. One thing you can control is how hard you play with the guys who are out there."
Yep, there's that word again. Injuries. It struck again on Thursday, as a strained right deltoid knocked center Timofey Mozgov out of the game by halftime, and will keep him on the shelf for 10-14 days. That shelf is getting crowded. Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert are likely still weeks away, and Mo Williams, who sat out against the Bucks, will likely miss the next two games with a sore right ankle.
But back to LeBron's point, which was made loud and clear by the Cavs' leader over the past week, and which was finally heard on Thursday. LeBron and Kevin Love may have combined for 49 points, but it was the bench who saved 'em down the stretch, as Andy Varejao, who has seen his minutes drop this season (and who didn't even see the court on Tuesday night in Detroit), came in for Mozgov and dropped nine points, while Matthew Dellavedova and Jared Cunningham were factors as well in holding off a late Bucks' charge.
So 12 down, 70 to go. Injuries will heal, key players will return, and the Cavaliers will be the top contender in the East. But more that a few players will have to keep this machine rolling in the meantime. It was good to see 'em again on Thursday night.
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