Chillin': LeBron, Cavs trying to thaw from mid-season freeze

LeBron James and coach Tyronn Lue have led Cleveland to three straight Finals but the Cavs don’t get after it on defense the way Eastern Conference-leading Boston does

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The cold stare. The pursed lips.

But Cleveland are looking less and less capable of flipping the proverbial switch - as they have the past two years - and more like a side that will finally endure a serious challenge from an Eastern Conference foe in the playoffs.

Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James didn't sugarcoat things when he assessed how his team's 2017-18 season has unfolded.

"You don't win championships. losing a game is not encouraging at all", he said. But judging by the standings, I am pretty sure Irving feels good about his decision.

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While Lue might be encouraged about what he's seen from his team the last few games, including the 118-108 loss against the Warriors Monday night, James didn't share the same opinion.

The Cavs remain a work in progress, an incomplete picture. Also, since Favors is clearly no DeAndre Jordan, the Cavs could send Tristan Thompson to Utah and maybe even offer their own late first round pick to get Favors.

After the Warriors game, reports by cleveland.com, ESPN, and The Athletic outlined concerns shared by multiple prominent players that the team may not have what it takes to fix its problems. Firstly, this is not the first time the Cavaliers have struggled this season.

"It's been very challenging just from the simple fact of how many guys have been in and out", he said.

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The losses piling up have reportedly created a cloud of uncertainty around the Cavs as the team attempts to reach the NBA Finals for the fourth straight year, hoping to unseat the Warriors as champions. But we have to figure it out. At the end of the day, we have a game every other day or every two days just like everybody else in the National Basketball Association. "Once we continue to make shots and continue to play like we've played the last couple games, things will work out".

These are fascinating and frustrating days for the Cavaliers, who opened the season 5-7, ripped off 18 wins in 19 games and have gone 3-9 since December 19, losing twice in that span to the Warriors, their rivals in each of the past three Finals.

"Our identity is to win a championship", James said. Golden State got a number of fast break points simply because a Cleveland player or two didn't hustle back on defense, leaving a player wide open.

"Yeah", coach Tyronn Lue said flatly, when asked if his team remains the best in the East, despite having the third best record. This is LeBron we're talking about.

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"I don't know, but we're going to be fine". But the team's accuracy has tanked over the last 10 games. Jae Crowder has not quite worked out as well as many expected, and Isaiah Thomas still needs more time before he can get back to his All-Star form.

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