With only a few weeks left in the NBA regular season, the time to prepare for the mayhem that comes with the playoffs is now. The decision to rest players would be ideal for the Cavs, however after terrible losses to the Miami Heat, Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets this Cavs team is still looking to find an identity this late in the season. This is an interesting time of the year, as teams that have no chance of making it to the playoffs and NBA Finals begin to tank more so than they have already been doing. Players on expiring contracts are making a final push to try to beef up their resume, and LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers and company head into this postseason with even more questions than last year. The defending Eastern Conference champs have their team fully intact and healthy unlike last postseason’s depletion that ultimately sealed their fate against the eventual NBA Champion, Golden State Warriors.

While most would think that this Cavs team should be fully ready, being that everyone is at full strength with more depth than last year’s team, the final games of this season have raised multiple concerns. An expected easy road to the finals in the East is not looking so easy anymore, given the up and down efforts that we have seen over the past two weeks. One being a disappointing loss in Miami. LeBron James’s behavior at halftime was questioned as he was spotted conversing with former Miami Heat teammate and close friend, Dwayne Wade. Another instance was his playoff mode  performance against the Denver Nuggets a few nights ago that resembled a more focused superstar. This inconsistency in behavior and social media hoopla drew a conversation from Cavs brass and head coach Tyronn Lue and GM David Griffin to address the erratic and out of character behavior. Actions like these will always be under such scrutiny given the huge lens that stays on the Cavs at all times given the presence of James.

Although James has repeatedly stated that he wants to retire in Cleveland, there’s always rumblings that there is a slim chance he may consider bolting yet again if the Cavs are unable to provide support to maximize James’ remaining elite window. ESPN, recently reported that James was on the record confirming that he’d take a pay cut for a chance to team up with his good friends, Carmelo Anthony, Dwayne Wade and Chris Paul. Not quite the best timing to hear this kind of dialogue with the postseason within a month away.

“I really hope that, before our career is over, we can all play together. At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP — we can get a year in. I would actually take a pay cut to do that. It would be pretty cool. I’ve definitely had thoughts about it.”~ LeBron James to Bleacher Report in January 2016 interview

 Aside from all of the noise it is without question that it is do-or-die time for the Cavaliers. There is no more time left to build chemistry, settle differences or even to adjust to the demand of Lue versus former Cavs head Coach David Blatt. It all starts with James. However,  his team now must answer the call as we’ve seen that he alone cannot carry the load without some reliable help. He’ll need a strong effort from fellow stars Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love on both sides of the ball. The Cavs also need steady sharpshooting from three-point specialists, J.R. Smith and James Jones, and also consistent output from Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Timofey Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova.

The path to the finals, which looked fairly easy last year does not look like it is going to be so easy this time around. Ready or not, the playoffs are closing in on the Cavaliers, thus the time is NOW for Cleveland to get their play together.

Do you think Cleveland will make it to the finals this year? Tweet us and theblack_juice and let us know!

~ Jordan Mitchell

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