Sports can be a source of solace when you’re in need, but they also have the potential to hold positive and negative connotations. Sports provide us with memories we’ll never forget and make us feel like we belong. They remind us that life is worth living even when times get tough or seem hopeless. But there’s one event in sports which has transcended all others: The Super Bowl
The “reason unspoken lyrics” is a song by the band “He’s the Reason Why It Works”. The song was released on September 29, 2018.
Since LeBron James’ departure at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been trapped in the Eastern Conference’s bottom. Since The King transferred his skills to Hollywood, the franchise hasn’t even come close to making the playoffs.
However, Cavs general manager Koby Altman has been slowly but steadily acquiring young, promising players. Although the victories haven’t been constant, the foundations of a competitive squad are starting to take shape.
Those youthful components have begun to gel now, at least through the first few weeks of the season, and the victories are starting to arrive. Cleveland, on the other hand, is doing it in a unique way. In a league where three-and-D wings and small-ball centers are in high demand, the Cavs have three 7-footers in their starting lineup.
That lineup has been effective, according to JB Bickerstaff, because of a hidden weapon – first-year Cavalier and former Chicago Bulls forward Lauri Markkanen.
The Cleveland Cavaliers signed Lauri Markkanen in a sign-and-trade deal this summer.
Sources tell @TheAthletic @Stadium that the Bulls, Cavaliers, and Trail Blazers are close to agreeing on a three-team deal that would send Lauri Markkanen to Cleveland, Larry Nance Jr. to Portland, and Derrick Jones Jr., a first-round selection, and more draft compensation to Chicago.
August 27, 2021 — Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania)
In a sign-and-trade transaction that sent Larry Nance Jr. to Portland and Derrick Jones Jr. back to Chicago, Cleveland acquired Markkanen in August. The bulk of the criticism around the deal was on either Nance’s place next to Damian Lillard with the Blazers or Markkanen’s perceived bad fit with the Cavs at the time.
Cleveland has already signed center Jarrett Allen to a five-year, $100 million contract and selected Evan Mobley of USC with the third overall choice in the 2020 draft. In a lineup like that, how would another 7-foot forward fit in?
So far, the response has been rather flawless.
The former Bull has become the Cavs’ big lineup’s hidden weapon.
During player introductions, Lauri Markkanen and the Cleveland Cavaliers listen to teammate Denzel Valentine in the huddle. | Jason Miller/Getty Images
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Markkanen seventh overall in 2017, but he was rerouted to Chicago on draft night. The Fin soon fell out of favor with Billy Donovan and the Bulls, and he demanded a trade.
Lauri Legend was added to the Cavaliers’ roster as a result. Markkanen began his career as a power forward but is currently the team’s main three-point shooter. He’s started each of Cleveland’s first five games in an unusual position, both physically and metaphorically.
This presents a new set of obstacles for the 24-year-old, including guarding smaller, faster perimeter wings. However, Bickerstaff recently praised his new “small forward” as the cog in his huge lineup’s operation, as reported by Cleveland.com:
“He is the reason it works….” He’s the reason we’ve been able to get away with it so far and why it’s worked.
“For him, it’s different. I believe it has had an influence on his shooting since he is defending in a different way. But with the work he’s putting in, if he keeps it up, his shots will fall.”
JB Bickerstaff, head coach of the Cavaliers, on Lauri Markkanen’s significance
With its unconventional starting five, Cleveland may be onto something.
The @cavs have kept their previous three opponents under. 410 percent FG…
.384 vs. ATL;.407 vs. DEN;.356 vs. LAC
The previous time the Cavs kept three consecutive opponents to a.410 shooting percentage was February 12-19, 2014… courtesy of @EliasSports
October 28, 2021 — Cavs Notes (@CavsNotes)
The Cavaliers are clearly zigging as the rest of the NBA zags. But, thus far, it’s done precisely what it’s supposed to do.
Allen is the quintessential rim-runner shot blocker. He’s the paint saboteur. Mobley has acclimated to the NBA game very fast, relying on his quickness to navigate switches and guard mismatches. But, as Bickerstaff pointed out, Markkanen’s formerly shaky defensive skills has been critical to the scheme’s success.
According to NBA.com, the lineup with the three big men has played the most minutes as a unit. The defensive rating of the unit is 87.3 when Collin Sexton and Darius Garland join the big guys. The defensive rating decreases to 86.7 with Ricky Rubio replacing Garland.
The Miami Heat, for example, have the best defensive rating in the league at 92.0.
The Cavaliers have found success with an unconventional lineup and one of the league’s greatest defenses, yet the most vital weapon has been a forgotten member of another team’s rotation.
Unless otherwise stated, all statistics are courtesy of Basketball Reference.
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“He’s the Reason Why It Works” is a song by American singer-songwriter John Mayer. The lyrics of the song are not explicitly mentioned, but it is implied that they are about his wife. Reference: unspoken song lyrics.
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