Author: Kurt Helin

Toronto Raptors v Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James: “We’re a very fragile team right now”


The Cleveland Cavaliers are 5-6 on the young season after the Toronto Raptors came to the Q and easily handled them on Saturday night. The Cavs offense has slipped to middle of the NBA pack and Kevin Love is frustrated, but that’s not even the end of the court that’s the real problem — their 25th ranked defense is the real issue.

These are problems the Cavaliers should sort out, eventually. It feels like we saw this movie in Miami (they started 9-8), although that Heat team didn’t show this level of lethargy on defense, and it did show more flashes of promise than we have seen from these Cavs.

How to describe these Cavaliers? LeBron James used the word “fragile” Sunday after Toronto looked flat out superior, reports Dave McMenamin of ESPN. And it’s going to get worse, he added.

“We’re a very fragile team right now,” James said after Cleveland saw an 18-point first-quarter lead turn into a 19-point fourth-quarter hole against the Eastern Conference-leading Raptors (11-2). “Well, we were a fragile team from the beginning. Any little adversity hits us, we just shell up. That’s something that will come with experience….

“This is not even the lowest it’s going to get for us,” James said. “You guys know, the lowest it can get is up 17 in the fourth quarter of Game 2 of the Finals and losing. It can get that low. Or being up 2-1 and going to Game 4 and lose three straight in the Finals. That’s very low. So, I’m very optimistic. I’m very positive. More positive than I thought I would be right now, so, we look at what we did wrong, things that we did well and get ready for Orlando coming in on Monday.”

What they do wrong is a real lack of cohesion on offense where young players such as Kyrie Irving will dribble and dribble, pounding the rock and making the offense sticky. Or Tristan Thompson will outright break out of the offense for his own look. Plus the Cavaliers are just sloppy with the ball and it leads to turnovers. The Cavaliers bench has been unimpressive. And on defense, James needs to start leading by example because while there are holes on that side of the court — the Cavs lack a real rim protector — it doesn’t excuse their lazy, sloppy efforts.

All of this is fixable. And I expect that by Christmas the Cavaliers will look better, by the All-Star break they will be closer to what we expected. But there is a lot of work, a lot of maturing for this team still to do.

And the process is not going to be pretty.

Anthony Davis goes off for 43 points (VIDEO)

Anthony Davis


There was nothing the Utah Jazz could do because we know Anthony Davis can finish at the rim but when he is 6-of-9 from the midrange, you are doomed. He can put it on the floor and attack or just knock it down over you. Check out his shot chart from Saturday night.


Davis finished with 43 points on 23 shots, plus had 14 rebounds on the night. The Pelicans beat the Jazz 106-94, despite Gordon Hayward’s 31 points.

Anthony Davis. Unstoppable.

Dwight Howard out vs. Mavericks Saturday, no timetable for his return

San Antonio Spurs v Houston Rockets

This is not good news in Houston:

You knew there was a little more to Howard’s last minute scratch from the Rockets game against the Lakers when it was reported he had Plasma Rich Platelet Therapy — PRP, basically what Kobe has done to his knee. That’s not something you get done if it is just a minor tweak, that’s what you do when you’re trying to get a joint to keep working through a long grind.

With Howard and starting power forward Terrence Jones out, the Rockets front line is thin and not nearly as talented. Against the Lakers you could see how much their defense really suffered.

Which is bad news against Dallas, the team with the best offense in the NBA right now.

If Derrick Rose not ready to return by Monday Bulls may add point guard to roster


Derrick Rose is reportedly making progress on his return from a strained hamstring, but it may not be fast enough.

With Kirk Hinrich in pain — he has what he described as bruised ribs from an inadvertent collision with Rudy Gay, and Hinrich says it is tough for him to take deep breaths — the Bulls may add another point guard to the roster in the short term, reports K.C. Johnson at the Chicago Tribune.

If Derrick Rose doesn’t return Monday, sources said the Bulls have considered adding a point guard. Thibodeau favorite John Lucas III recently signed in China, but another Thibodeau staple, Mike James, is on the street. So is Chicago product Will Bynum.

Those are stop gap measures, but that’s where the Bulls are at right now.

Rose is out, Pau Gasol is out, Taj Gibson sprained his ankle Friday night and with everything going on the Bulls just want some reinforcements. Makes sense.

Despite all of that they are still playing like the Bulls we know — 8-5 and the third seed in the East. They are right to keep playing their system and not rush guys back to play in November, those are not the games that matter most.

Another day, another Bulls injury: Taj Gibson out with sprained ankle

Derrick Rose, Taj Gibson, Joakim Noah

Taj Gibson will be spending some time with Pau Gasol and Derrick Rose in the training room after that one.

In the third quarter of the Bulls loss to the Trail Blazers Friday night Gibson went down with what looked to be a nasty ankle sprain. The man was in some pretty serious pain. The good news is after the game he said the X-rays were negative, but he was in a walking boot after the game and told he’s going to miss a little time because this is his third ankle sprain since the playoffs last season.

“I gotta get this thing right,” he said…

“Just talking to Derrick, talking to the guys, I have to be patient,” Gibson said. “I have to stop trying to run back out there to try to play through these things. We have a long season. It’s just the dog in me that wants to be out there and play. I have to just learn from this.”

Rose has taken a lot of criticism, although with this injury rushing back too early from a hamstring that is not right can lead to worse things.

More than that — it’s November people? You got to get right and be healthy for the games that matter most and those don’t happen before Christmas (or, frankly, before next March). The Bulls have been the Bulls and are fine at 8-5 and the three seed in the East even with key players missing time. This is another blow but as everyone knows, what matters with the Bulls is them getting healthy for the late season and playoffs.

So Tom Thibodeau is covering his guys in bubble wrap and waiting for them to get right. As he should.