5. Can the non-LeBron Cavs contribute?
As mesmerizing as the incandescence of LeBron was against the Pacers, the one-man show is something that’s almost impossible to sustain in the NBA playoffs. The Cavaliers just won a playoff series in which Kyle Korver, who’s looking spry for a 37-year old, was arguably their second best player. That’s both inspiring and alarming at the same time! Cleveland can’t go on like this as the playoffs get tougher and tougher in the later rounds.
The looks were there against the Pacers; in Game 3 in particular, LeBron created great opportunities for his teammates, but they simply weren’t falling. Though it seems like an eternity ago, this team had one of the best offenses in the league entering the playoffs. Then the Cavs offense fell off a cliff against Indiana and looked helpless without LeBron. Kevin Love rediscovering his mojo would help (more on him later), but guys like Rodney Hood and J.R. Smith really need to step up as well.
Hood has been a frustrating player for the past few years. On one night he looks like a talented, crafty scorer and the next he is utterly invisible. He has to step up and hit shots for this Cleveland offense to reach its potential. We all know how erratic Smith can be, but when he’s engaged this team becomes so much more dangerous. The Cavs will need him to contribute on both ends of the floor in this series.
And finally, Tristan Thompson and George Hill need to submit strong performances. Perhaps a Game 7 renaissance will inspire Thompson, who could unlock some defensive potential for Cleveland and really help on the glass. Hill also had a nice Game 7, despite playing limited minutes. He was supposed to be a great two way addition and he needs to live up to the billing. Bless the heart of Jose Calderon who made some shots for Cleveland last series, but he cannot be trusted at this point. The Cavs need a big series from Hill.