Despite LeBron James‘ 37 points and 12 rebounds, the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in double overtime Friday night, 108-105. A loss to the Bucks isn’t as demoralizing as it once was, especially when it’s the second game of a back-to-back. Considering the Cavs had just won 8 games straight, it’s not like there was a lot for the team to hang their heads about, right? That’s not at all how Lebron James sees it, according to Joe Vardon of Northeast Ohio Media Group.
“We’re not a great team right now.”
“I think we’re a good team. I think we expect we’re a great team, and we’re not,” James said, following his eye-popping 37-point, 12-rebound performance. “We have to get better in every facet of the game, and that’s every single facet of the game.”
“We give a half-ass effort sometimes and expect that we can just make a run at the end. We’re not good enough to do that right now.”
The Cavs, at 8-2, have already established themselves as one of the best teams in the NBA. Their offensive rating, 107.3, is third in the league, while their defensive rating, 99.8, is eighth. This sort of dominance is what most expected out of the Cavs to start the year, even without Kyrie Irving.
Yet numbers are one thing, effort is another, and it’s with the latter that James takes public umbrage. It took a herculean effort from LeBron for the Cavs to even force a single overtime with the Bucks, as they trailed by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter. Again, the Bucks aren’t the pushover they once were, but that’s no excuse for taking three and a half quarters to actually start trying.
Before the season started, the Cavaliers said they’d be approaching this year with a much more determined, business-oriented mindset; Irving went so far as to say the season would be fueled by rage. LeBron is making it clear to his team that these weren’t empty words and that he won’t suffer complacency simply because they reached the Finals last season.