Why Is This NBA Season So Weird? Cavaliers Are Bad, Warriors Average and Pistons Great

The Cleveland Cavaliers suffered a nasty loss to the New York Knicks on Sunday night at Quicken Loans Arena, and somehow it wasn’t the most surprising or shocking thing to happen in the NBA over the weekend.

“Seriously: The Cavaliers are hot garbage right now,” SB Nation pithily wrote after the Knicks strolled out of northeast Ohio with a 114-95 victory that was as close as the scoreline suggested. Offensively, the Cavaliers are leaning on LeBron James and Kevin Love at a 45-degree angle, at least. James, who was setting a ferocious and probably unsustainable pace through the first week of the season, had cooled off between Thursday’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks and Sunday’s defeat. He is still averaging 24.6 points per game, and he and the Cavaliers’ lopsided offense aren’t nearly as big a problem as the growing realization that Cleveland has a “disaster” at point guard (Derrick Rose, and SB Nation’s word, not ours) and a combination of players who are really quite bad at defense. Rose was minus-22 against the Knicks. Isaiah Thomas can’t return soon enough, but even that isn’t a catchall solution, given Thomas’s defensive issues. Maybe the Cavaliers can start scoring enough to be able to concede 100 points per game.

All of the Cavaliers’ weirdnesses, though, are kind of predictably weird. Everyone knew that Rose was likely to struggle running the offense while Thomas recuperates, and that a team that was bad defensively last season was likely to be bad in that respect this season. More worthy of your attention as a curio item: What happened in Oakland on Sunday night, when the defending NBA champions the Warriors managed to blow a 14-point lead seven minutes into the third quarter in a 115-107 loss that sent the Detroit Pistons to 5-2 in the season? The Warriors aren’t a “hot mess,” but they turned the ball over uncomfortably often at Oracle Arena against the surprising—weird?—Pistons—26 times, according to ESPN, leading to 33 Detroit points.

The Warriors are still almost certainly going to cruise to the top seed in the Western Conference. But what about the Oklahoma City Thunder, languishing at .500 and looking up at 10 other teams in the West? Or the psychedelic Eastern Conference? The still unfathomable Orlando Magic currently hold the fourth seed, with the Pistons in first. The Nets are still looking down on the Cavaliers. Eh?

OK, so it will all shake down pretty soon. But in response to complaints about the NBA becoming a league of superteams and have-nots, we give you the opening to the 2017–18 season. Long may the zaniness continue.

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