I couldn’t tell you how much celebrating the Cleveland Cavaliers did yesterday after sweeping the Boston Celtics and advancing to the second round of the NBA Playoffs. That said, my guess is they weren’t as jubilant as you might expect them to be.
As we know, the Cavs may have made it to the next round, but they took on some huge losses on the way. Kevin Love is dealing with a dislocated shoulder thanks to what he believes was a dirty play from the Celtics’ Kelly Olynyk. J.R. Smith is undoubtedly facing a suspension thanks to his swinging backhand to the face of Jae Crowder. Likewise, Kendrick Perkins could be suspended as well thanks to a violent screen he set on Crowder.
So, while Cleveland is only 12 wins away from a title, said victories are going to be a lot harder to come by if any of the aforementioned players – Love and Smith, specifically – are out for a long period of time. Initial reports indicate Love will be out for at least two weeks, though he’s currently getting a second opinion. While word hasn’t been released regarding Smith’s suspension, analyst and Hall of Famer Charles Barkley feels the Cavs’ guard should be looking at a 5-10 game ban.
The Cavs second-round opponent has yet to be determined, despite the fact the Chicago Bulls‘ 3-1 series lead over the Milwaukee Bucks certainly looks like a stranglehold. If Cleveland is lucky, Milwaukee can give the Bulls a good fight and extend the series, allowing coach David Blatt to figure out how to deal with the suddenly shallow roster he has on his hands.
One solution – albeit probably the most likely solution – is an increased reliance on some of the team’s veteran bench players. Men who, despite the notable waves made by their signings in the offseason, have barely touched the court for Cleveland this year.