A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

The Fall of the Cavaliers

with 7 comments

Great post on Back Picks about how much worse the Cavaliers have gotten without LeBron.  I was actually fixing to make a similar post myself, but now I’ll just keep it brief:

-The Cavs are on pace for the 2nd biggest fall in SRS (team performance based on point differential and strength of schedule) in NBA history.  Here’s a table, with the top 10 falls and the changes involved:

-You cannot simply dismiss this as the Cavs’ tanking for a good draft pick because the rest of the supporting cast is still in place.  Yes poor performance leads to de-motivation which leads to worse performance, but that’s true of every team in history, and still only once has there been a falloff this bad.

-It is utterly unreasonable to expect anyone with a supporting cast this bad to win a championship.  I’m not saying it was impossible, just that it’s an unreasonable expectation.  People still debate about who is and was better between LeBron and Kobe Bryant, and many give Kobe this edge based on championships, but there is simply no way that any supporting cast Kobe’s won a title with could be this bad without him.  Last year for example, the Lakers went 6-3 without Kobe.

Clearly the impact LeBron was having in Cleveland was up there with any in all of history.

-Going back to the Decision, there is a lot you can blame LeBron for, but I’ve maintained that since the Boston series last year, LeBron must have been thinking “my teammates just aren’t that good, we’re not as close as I thought to being the best, and there’s no reason to think we can get much better”.  You combine that with all the criticism LeBron got for being unable to win the big one, and it’s pretty easy to see why he left Cleveland.  It was much less about going to South Beach, and much more about getting out of a situation that he saw as no-win.

Written by Matt Johnson

January 6, 2011 at 3:26 pm

7 Responses

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  1. Haha. I’d rather we have competing ideas so we can debate. 😉

    Note: You promised the top-10 changes here but only listed 5.


    January 6, 2011 at 4:52 pm

  2. Right you are. Here’s the Top 10 falls.

    Matt Johnson

    January 6, 2011 at 5:27 pm

  3. […] wanted to follow up on the Fall of the Cavaliers post, where I posted the 10 greatest falls in NBA […]

  4. […] after last night’s horrendous 55 point loss to the Lakers, it’s worth revisiting the poor Cleveland Cavaliers.  Their SRS for this year is now down to -10.19, the worst of any team in the past decade.   That […]

  5. Cleveland is now at -17.05. It is a real shame the injury to Varejao and Williams happened and not just for those individuals.

    It allows people who want to minimize Lebron’s impact on the Cavs or who still claim Lebron had a great supporting cast to say injuries killed this team. Even before the injury to Varejao Cleveland was 8-23 and losing games by an average of 9.1 ppg.

    This is an unprecedented collapse.


    February 3, 2011 at 8:35 am

  6. Yeah, the way things are going, we’ll have to keep doing updates to see exactly how bad it gets. Here I was blown away at the 2nd biggest fall in history, but we’ve now reached the point far beyond that.

    Matt Johnson

    February 3, 2011 at 4:28 pm

  7. Obviously it’s been a while since last season ended, but just wanted to note that Cleveland ended the season with a -8.88 SRS, for an overall drop over 82 games of 15.05.


    February 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

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