The Cavaliers are back. Well, they might be back. It’s kind of hard to tell after one game.
In any case, Cleveland looked a lot better on Sunday in thumping the Celtics in Boston than it had at any point in the past month and a half. The catalyst for the sudden shift in quality of play from the Cavs was the introduction of the four new players they added at the trade deadline, the departure of the six they sent out and, most important, a clearly-rejuvenated LeBron James.
That last part goes hand in hand with the first two, as James was clearly excited to be playing with a new batch of teammates who were younger, more athletic and, maybe most signficant, seemed to be engaged on both ends and willing to do what was asked of them. James raved after the game about his new point guard George Hill and was very complimentary of Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood and Larry Nance Jr. as well. James can now see potential with this team. He can see the opportunity to win and reach another Finals, and it had him looking more excited on the bench and on the court than we’ve seen out of the King all season.
While there are obviously ramifications on the Cavs’ ability to compete this year, what may be more important to them is how the revamped roster makes James feel about the future. LeBron’s impending free agency this summer has loomed over every move the Cavs have made all year, and prior to the deadline things felt particularly bleak on that front. However, Koby Altman and company have appeared to succeed in making moves that please James, and those around the league have noticed a shift.