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5-on-5: How real are the Cavs’ issues, and will they last? – ESPN

Chris Herring, FiveThirtyEight.com: Not nearly as playful and haughty as its been so far. I#8217;m sure it#8217;s just LeBron#8217;s lingering resentment for Phil, but the jubilant social media posts from him and Isaiah Thomas were a bit much. The Cavs are still playing largely awful basketball.

Kevin Pelton, Insider: Glad things aren#8217;t worse. Given Cleveland#8217;s minus-2.7 point differential, the team could easily be a game or two below .500. But their ability to turn things on late in games, such as their fourth-quarter comeback Monday at Madison Square Garden, has allowed the Cavaliers to survive their poor start without greater damage to their record.

Windhorst: They should add an offensively dynamic All-Star level point guard. Thomas believes he#8217;s going to be that guy and they need it. But in the spirit of the question, they could really use an athletic big man who can protect the rim to give their defense a protective layer.

Windhorst: A. Defense is about building habits. That#8217;s coachspeak, but it#8217;s also the truth. The Cavs didn#8217;t have good defensive habits last year and it came home to roost in the fourth quarter of Game 3 of the Finals, when they couldn#8217;t get a single stop to save their season. Ty Lue knows it, he has tried to issue the warnings and the veterans don#8217;t seem to care much.

Herring: I#8217;d give it a 4. Assuming he#8217;s fully healthy once he comes back, that will help. Going from Shumpert or Rose to Thomas will make a world of difference on offense, especially once Thompson is back, too (for screening purposes). But their biggest problem is on D, which is the last thing the 5-foot-9 Thomas would actually help.

Boston is blazing to a 70-win pace. Kevin Pelton examines whether the Celtics are the title contenders they appear to be without Gordon Hayward.

McMenamin: Fact. Haven#8217;t seen anything in the first month of the season that has been so radical that now is the time to come off that prediction.

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