Either his belief became more explicitly entrenched, or he got company in the Cavaliers’ locker room.
Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:
This part of what the Cavs are fighting in the Eastern Conference finals – an unshakeable belief that Boston is outsmarting them. Celtics president Danny Ainge severely weakened Cleveland in the Irving trade, and the signs are still everywhere.
Isaiah Thomas was an unproductive malcontent while recovering from injury and Jae Crowder never looked comfortable with the Cavaliers. The No. 8 pick is nice, but it’s not helping this postseason. The players acquired from flipping Thomas and Crowder – George Hill, Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson – are barely doing much more.
How could LeBron and other Cavs see all that and believe their franchise is on the right track? How could that not distract them from the task at hand in these conference finals?
The best-run franchises have everyone pulling in the same direction, but that happens only when everyone trusts each other to do their jobs well. Cavaliers management hasn’t earned that.