Pic And Roll: Perhaps You Forgot The Cleveland Cavaliers Are Supposedly ‘Breaking Bad’

There’s something rotten in the state of Ohio, and it isn’t the water. The Cavaliers may have the best record in the East, but there are some serious issues with LeBron James and the rest of his team. Meanwhile, it’s “Everything’s fine. Everything’s totally fine,” for more than a few teams in the league, and two iconic non-players call it a “career.” Cue the theme music, it’s time for the Pic and Roll!

Oh. Right. We don’t have theme music. Budgetary concerns and all that, I’m sure you understand. So…read on, I guess?

Breaking Cavs

So…it’s been an interesting week or so for the Cavs. They’re still the best team in the East based purely off record, but they’re certainly not playing their best ball as of late. There’s a stark difference between the way the Raptors — who sit just below the Cavs in the standings, and even the surging Hawks — play versus how the Cavs play. The success of the former is spurred by terrific chemistry, the defense moving on a string and everyone playing to their strengths. Then there’s the Cavs, for whom nothing looks easy, much less fun. Everything is a grind, even when the ball flows perfectly, it always seems to do so reluctantly and without joy. It’s not surprising, then, that some scouts see the Cavs’ on-court chemistry as virtually nonexistent.

Now, that could be an exaggeration. This is the doldrums of the NBA season, just after the All-Star break, but not close enough to the playoffs to really ramp up and right in the thick of NCAA madness. Perhaps it’s not a lack of chemistry we’re seeing, just a normal, regular season malaise that seems to affect so many top teams. Well, that would be more palatable if LeBron didn’t keep posting abstract-art-equivalent Instagrams and tweets criticizing his team. It was like something out of a Dan Brown novel, all cryptic and mysterious and maybe insane?

The Cavs aren’t in any danger of falling out of the playoffs, obviously. They’ll probably make it to the conference finals just on talent alone. But chemistry plus talent versus talent alone is an interesting, dangerous match up, especially if that first team is the Raptors, who have had the Cavs number this season.

Everything’s Fine

A lot of teams are in this phase right now, facing anything from injuries to chemistry issues to discord, and trying to convince themselves that everything’s totally fine all the while. Let’s run down some of the teams, shall we?

Houston Rockets

James Harden reportedly forced Kevin McHale’s firing and tried to force a Dwight Howard trade. The Rockets refuted that report, obviously, but given their chemistry issues of late, it’s not that hard to believe. Howard is apparently interested in joining the Knicks. How interested the Knicks are remains to be seen. They’re still in the playoffs, but similar to the Cavs, it’s basically a product of talent, not necessarily playing well. Everything’s fine.

Cleveland Cavaliers

See above section. Everything’s fine.

Chicago Bulls

dwight howard, jimmy butler
Getty Image

Jimmy Butler, the Bulls’ best player, even with Derrick Rose’s recent resurgence, is still battling knee issues. That would be troubling on any other team, but it’s triple troubling given that it’s the Bulls. But don’t worry, he saw Dr. James Andrews, which is definitely not a big deal at all (it really wasn’t, it was just a visit to assuage Butler’s fears…apparently). Everything’s fine.

Oklahoma City Thunder

No matter how hard he tries, Kevin Durant can’t completely silence the never-ending free agency rumors. While he and the Thunder are adamant that they’re not true, and that he and the team aren’t thinking about them, it’s an undeniable specter looming large over OKC’s season. Everything’s fine.

Peter Holt!

Peter Holt, the longtime owner of the San Antonio Spurs, retired this week, handing over his responsibilities to his wife, Julianna Hawn Holt. The Spurs are a model franchise from the top down, and that’s thanks in large part to Holt’s guidance. He never overreached, never tried to do his general manager’s — or his coach’s — job. As a reward for his managerial style, Holt is the proud owner of five NBA championships.

Referee Joey Crawford also retired this week, but I don’t have an “Arrested Development” pun to go with his name, so.

Performance Of The Week: Russell Westbrook’s Insane Triple Double

Was it 20 assists, or only 19 assists? The correct answer: nobody cares, because Westbrook’s earth-shattering performance was a thing of terrifying beauty, regardless. In a recent roundtable, I wrote that Westbrook’s magnificent season hasn’t gotten enough appreciation because of Steph Curry, and this game is further proof. Sure, there was the usual excitement that comes with a 25-point, 20 (19?)-assist, 10-rebound stat line, but it deserved far more than that.

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