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There's always so much going on in Northeast Ohio sports, much more than what can fit in our regular Wednesday conversations with Cleveland Plain Dealer sports writer Terry Pluto. Consider it overtime or extra innings.  This is the place to check out Amanda Rabinowitz's ongoing conversations with Terry that are just too good to miss!

The View Beyond Pluto: LeBron-less Cavs Have Sights on the Playoffs

Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers in action against the Washington Wizards during a game on February 6, 2017 at Verizon Center in Washington, DC.
Keith Allison
Wikimedia Commons
Kevin Love signed a long-term deal with the Cavs, making him the new face of the franchise

The Cavs began training camp this week on a much different tone. The face of the franchise, LeBron James, departed in the off season for the L.A. Lakers. 

Terry Pluto said there's lots of mixed emotions. Some players are excited to see more playing time, while fans are bracing for a season of uncertainty. 

Pluto says with James gone, there's no guarantee the team will even make the playoffs.

"The days of the ticket to the NBA Finals is No. 23 and all you have to do is sit with the coach and the pilot will take you there, those days are long over."

Now, the team is built around Kevin Love, the only one of the Cavs' "big three" who remains on the team. He signed a long-term contract in the off season. And, the only player left on the team who knows what it's like to play without James is Tristan Thompson.  

The team will also be putting its hopes in rookie Collin Sexton, who played very well in the NBA Summer League. Others like Larry Nance Jr., Geroge Hill and Rodney Hood will see significant playing time. 

Not tanking
Pluto says the front office wants to avoid what happened when LeBron James left in 2010, when the team had the worst cumulative record in the NBA. 

"They did not want to go through a 26-game losing streak when you just pound your fan base and everyone else into the ground. And, I know Dan Gilbert would love to make the playoffs without LeBron."

Pluto says the good news for the Cavs and the rest of the Eastern Conference is that James now plays in the Western Conference. 

Pluto says what will be interesting is to see what coach Tyronn Lue will do without James.

"He always said he was not able to coach the way he wanted to because he had to build around LeBron. Can he actually incorporate the things he wants to do? He gets his chance."

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