Despite Turmoil, David Blatt’s Cavs Closing in on NBA Championship

Cleveland Cavaliers
Photo: Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s shaping up to be a season of many firsts for Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt. The former Euroleague-winning coach of Maccabi Tel Aviv moved on to the NBA last summer, becoming the first coach in the history of European basketball to move directly to an NBA head coaching position.

Just weeks after his signing, he finds out he’ll be LeBron James’ first coach in the King’s triumphant return to Cleveland. A couple months later, they trade for star big man Kevin Love and he is suddenly in charge of a full-blown super team with James, Love and Kyrie Irving.

Fast forward to May, and the Boston-born Blatt is now a handful of wins away from becoming the first former European basketball head coach to win the NBA championship and the first NBA rookie head coach to win it all since Pat Riley in 1982.

The NBA betting site currently has the Cavs priced as underdogs to the Golden State Warriors to win the NBA title. However, it’s amazing to think Blatt’s Cavs are even one of the last few teams standing considering the soap opera of a season they have endured to date.

Blatt got a rude awakening to life in the NBA. The Cavs started the season horrendously, going 19-20 through 39 games. The team didn’t grasp the Princeton-inspired offensive system he used to conquer Europe, and Love wasn’t integrating into the team as planned. It had become an open secret that James and the team had more or less tuned him out.

James eventually took over and the Cavs finished the season strong, but even more adversity was waiting in the playoffs. Love suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the first round. Blatt almost botched an important playoff game against the Bulls by trying to call a timeout he didn’t have, and then James ignored his call for the winning play. Irving then succumbs to his malady of injuries against the Hawks.

And yet, after all that, the Cavs are still coming out of the East. Hardly anyone will immediately look to Blatt for their success. After all, they’re not playing his patented system and he’s not the one dropping ridiculous 37-18-13 lines or knocking down buzzer-beaters.

But Blatt does deserve his share of the credit for simply making the most out of this less than ideal situation. He’s playing the cards he’s been dealt, which just so happens to have a King. His reward, in the end, might just turn out to be a ring.