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The View From Pluto: The Cavs Have Found Their Chemistry, Even Without Key Players

LeBron James and Dwyane Wade
Cleveland Cavaliers

After getting off to a slow start, the Cavs have been on a roll. They're on a nine-game winning streak, their longest in the regular season since 2015. And, they’re doing it without a couple key players acquired in the offseason. WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says this new-look team has finally figured out how to win. 

"The first three weeks of the season, they were the biggest disappointment in the NBA. At one point they were 5-7 and were giving up 110 points or more each game."

Rose contemplates retirement
On top of their struggles, one of their newer acquisitions, point guard Derrick Rose, has left the team and is contemplating retirement. Rose, who signed a veteran's minimum contract of $2.1 million with the Cavs, has missed more than a dozen games this season with an ankle injury.  

"I don't think any of us at the age of 29 would want to be told that everything you trained to do, it could be over. Your body is betraying you."

Rose spent time training with LeBron James over the summer and felt hopeful he was ready to revive a career that peaked while he was with the Chicago Bulls. 

"When he was 21 years old, he won the MVP award. Even LeBron James did not win an MVP at 21."

Derrick Rose
Credit Wikimedia Commons
Derrick Rose was a superstar with the Chicago Bulls

Shortly after being the youngest player to win NBA MVP, Rose signed a $135 million shoe contract with Adidas. Then, the injuries began mounting, including three knee surgeries and broken bones in his face. 

"The Cavs think eventually he may come back but he's not sure he wants to play anymore."

Isaiah Thomas readies his Cavs debut
Meanwhile, the Cavs have another point guard, Isaiah Thomas, who is nearly ready to return from a major hip injury that has sidelined him all season. The All-Star, who averaged 29 points a game last year, was acquired in the Kyrie Irving trade with Boston.  

"If you were to tell me -- No Isaiah Thomas and Derrick Rose is gone, the Cavs would be around .500. And then suddenly they took off."

Pluto says LeBron James, along with his best friend and former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade, have figured out how to organize the group they have. 

"Wade has three championship rings and LeBron also has three. You say, 'All right, how are we going to make this work?' So Wade is the captain of the second unit and LeBron the first, and sometimes they play together.  And things are falling together. Changing some players around I think brought a sense of urgency."

Meanwhile, former Cav Kyrie Irving and his new team, the Boston Celtics, are in first place in the Eastern Conference. "Don't think LeBron ignores it. And you say, 'Well, I guess the Cavs aren't dead yet.'"

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