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Point – Counter-Point: David Blatt’s firing

David Blatt’s firing as the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers is unprecedented. The man lasted less than a year and a half in his first NBA job after a long career of coaching internationally, primarily in Israel. In his first season the Cavaliers, despite missing two of their top players heading into the playoffs, made a run to the NBA Finals and this year they had the best record in the Eastern Conference before he was removed of his duties. Blatt went 83-40 as the Cavaliers’ coach. Firing a person with that much success just does not look like a great move on the face of it, but there are always two sides to things. In this edition of Point – Counter-Point we will present the arguments for why the firing of David Blatt was a good decision and why it was a bad decision and we’ll let you decide.


Blatt had the Cavs in a position to win

By: Damon Sloan

David Blatt guided the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals last year despite his team not having two of their best players.

David Blatt guided the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals last year despite his team not having two of their best players.

He went to the NBA finals last year and had the best record in the Eastern Conference this year and what did David Blatt get for it? Fired. If that is not an unjust firing then nothing is. Sure, he had some great players to work with and there were reports that he was not “in control” of the locker room, but this is a guy that took a franchise that was in the lottery four-straight years before he got there and helped make them the best team in the East.

It was a 34-point loss to the defending champion Golden State Warriors that led to Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert making a move. He said the next week that he felt his team “wasn’t in a championship culture setting and that coaching personnel is not in the best state.” He also said that his team “is pretty good but this franchise isn’t settling for pretty good.”


Not “in a championship culture” and only “pretty good”? Did Gilbert forget that the Cavaliers took the Warriors to game six with Matthew Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov as LeBron James’ top helpers? Had the Cavaliers had a healthy Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love there is plenty of season to believe they could have won the championship last year.

Another thing to consider is that while Blatt’s system has been criticized, it is really hard to figure out the perfect system to involve three superstars like James, Love and Irving that all want the ball in their hand. And he can’t slight the supporting cast either. When the Cavaliers started to win games after the all-star break last season it seemed as though James and his teammates got all the credit for the success, but it was Blatt who did a remarkable job of being able to keep the team poised and focused on making a strong run into the postseason and eventually to the finals.

Blatt essentially has done the game thing this year, keeping a strong defense that ranks third in defensive efficiency and are top 10 in both assists and rebounding. The isolation offense may have led to losses against both the Warrior and San Antonio Spurs, but it slows the game down and doesn’t allow the opposing team to get in a fast-paced rhythm. That offense worked in favor of James, Low and Irvin and allowed shooters like J.R. Smith and James Jones to get wide open 3-pointers and allowed the bigs like Mozgov and Anderson Varajao to get offensive rebounding position because they knew where shots were coming from. That system almost captured them the franchise’s first NBA title in history even without Irving and Love in the lineup.

Blatt’s team was on the right path to win a championship, a coaching change to disrupt that is incredible, incredibly risky.


Blatt was winning but was part of the Cavs problems

By: Tim Palladino

David Blatt won games but he was a big part of why the team wasn't doing even better.

David Blatt won games but he was a big part of why the team wasn’t doing even better.

When the news came out late Friday afternoon that David Blatt was fired, fans from all over the NBA were left shaking their heads. They were wondering how can a coach with a winning record and that has one of top player in the league get fired? Many were quick to assume that LeBron James was the reason for the firing. However, reports show that ownership has been wanting to fire Blatt as far back as before Christmas.

So how could the Cavaliers coaching change be good for the team? First, ownership would not have made any change if the team was playing well and winning big games. The Cavaliers have won a good amount of games. However, they were winning against a much improved but still weak Eastern Conference. In games against the western conference, such as the ones versus the Spurs and Warriors, they were out-played. This always looks bad on the coach and frustrates players to no end.

Also, if James did coplane and ownership decided to make a move, how could the ownership not listen to him? If James felt that Blatt’s coaching style was not for him and the team was losing because of his plays, ownership should have felt more pressure to fire him.

Since this is James second time around with the Cavaliers, they not only do not want to lose again in the finals. They are looking to win a title now. If Blatt was good coach, why couldn’t he fit the right system for LeBron and company? It is possible the team thought Blatt did not have the right system to win big games. The Cavaliers always seem to either win big or get shut out. Could it be the system that he was putting out each night?

In their current situation, the Cavaliers have to feel like they are one year behind schedule and ownership had made a chance. Blatt’s play-calling was a problem so they are giving that job to former Blatt assistant Tyronn Lue, who also has a much better relationship with the players as he himself was a former NBA player and understands their grind and personalities better.

There were concerns over Blatt’s attitude and connection with his team. There were concerns over his play calling. The team might have been winning games but there was definitely something wrong with the formula and it would have been more disastrous wasting another season knowing Blatt was the problem already.

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One Response to “Point – Counter-Point: David Blatt’s firing”
  1. Deb says:

    Another Awesome Article…great insight into the mechanics of the game…Thank You!!!