Back in early January, the Cleveland Cavaliers were floundering.
They were 19-20, had an ailing superstar small forward LeBron James that was out of the lineup for two weeks, and just made a pair of trades to acquire shooting guards Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith in a three-team deal with the New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder, as well as center Timofey Mozgov from the Denver Nuggets.
However, after the trades and the return of James, the Cavaliers went on a tear and locked up the Central Division Championship before claiming the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.
“I just think that the personalities that we brought in really, really we’re a good fit for the guys that were here,” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said. “Also, the fact that from a skill set standpoint, they suited us and fit us so much more than what we had before, and we needed that. Quickly, we began to win games and more games and more games. You know, winning breeds chemistry, too.”
Smith believes the Cavaliers bonded quickly enough to win 18 straight games at Quicken Loans Arena over the second half of the season for their desire to work together for success.
“This is a young group that plays off the talent that we have between Shump and myself,” Smith said. “We play off the talent that we have. We play free. It was such an easy fit, between his defense and the way I shoot the ball.”
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