By: Joe “Cartright” Cardoso
When news broke that the Cleveland Cavaliers hired a coach who had spent his whole career overseas, we all laughed. How the hell could they get LeBron James back with some poor sap from the other side? David Blatt, what kind of name was that? Half of us didn’t even bother to see that he was born in the USA.
June 20 was the date he was hired, and most “experts” figured he would seal the deal that King James would sign somewhere else, but he would entertain the Cavs offer.
Well, on July 11, LBJ released the world-famous essay announcing his return home to Cleveland, and that meant the new guy would be coaching the greatest player in the world.
Questions swirled all around him, and rightfully so. Could he get the players to buy in? Was this too big for him?
The biggest question was how LeBron would react to this unproven coach giving him orders. Coach Spo in Miami had Pat Riley, and Mike Brown grew up with King James, so it was a bit easier to take. But the question remains: who is David Blatt?
The NBA new dream team started off and they wanted blood. Some of the breaks and issues we pay no mind to from other new coaches were not given to Coach Blatt. “You have LeBron, how can this not work?” Kyrie Irving learning to play second fiddle to James and also trying to fit in Kevin Love? The amount of ego he has to manage, while learning the ropes of the NBA game, is severe.
Some genius midseason moves added more players to input into his system, and the result was the Cavs having a 24-9 record the last three months of the season. Home court means something again in Cavs country, with a 31-10 home record; finishing first in the Central Division and the No. 2 seed in the East. But, no way this guy would win in the playoffs, right? Analysts predicted he would flame out and be booted for a more seasoned LeBron-ready coach. Despite those opinions, the Cavs are one game away from the NBA Finals.
During the playoffs, he has had his blonde moments that make you want to either slap him or cover your eyes. Kevin Love goes out and he has to rethink his rotation and make adjustments. Yes, he has the greatest player on earth, but Love still has to be coached, and his players need him to lead them. Kyrie goes down and again Blatt has the magic touch.
Although I do not think he will win a title this year (the Warriors are a juggernaut and may have too much fire power for the Cavs), to the shock of many, this six-time coach of the year overseas is doing it and doing it his way. His system is based on pick-and-roll and ISO. If you don’t have the ball, you spread the floor. In his system, the ball handler attacks the basket, and if he can’t get a lay-up, pass to the open man. Once the shot goes up, the entire team crashes the boards. Sounds simple, and in today’s NBA where ball movement reigns supreme, it’s different, and to the casual fan, you may not catch it.
So, maybe we need to recognize that David Blatt knows what he is doing just a little bit…