COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Cleveland Cavaliers dropped to 0-3 in the preseason with a 91-81 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Monday. Rather than focus on the winless record, the team is taking a matter-of-fact approach to their predicament.
"No," LeBron James said when asked if the early losses bothered him. "It's not frustrating. You get frustrated in September or October, you won't make it. I'm good. I'm good."
What's bad is the Cavs' injury situation. Kyrie Irving (left knee), Kevin Love (left shoulder) and Iman Shumpert (right wrist) haven't played a game all preseason. J.R. Smith has missed the past two games with a sore left hamstring and Mo Williams was given the Grizzlies game off to rest. Not to mention James and Timofey Mozgov both taking one of the three games off so far. And of course, the complete absence of Tristan Thompson while he holds out while trying to negotiate a new contract doesn't help things.
The circumstances have created a barely recognizable Cavaliers team that's taking the court for games.
"So to say that this is who we are? This is not who we are," James said. "We have so many guys out. We have our top two point guards out. We have our top two shooting guards out right now. As well as our power forward and also a guy that's not with us right now, so our top two power forwards. But the guys that's here, I commend them for doing the job and our coaching staff is just putting us on the floor to be successful."
Cavs coach David Blatt was disappointed by the result against Memphis, saying "I think of the three games, this was not one of the better ones," but had been upbeat earlier in the day when asked about his team so far.
"Honestly we're missing some pieces but the guys that have been practicing and playing have, first of all, guys came in good condition and have been working very hard and they're doing a good job getting on top of the stuff that we're putting in," Blatt said. "We do have some continuity from last year, which is great. That's made putting in the old stuff easy and the new stuff a lot easier just because of the basic understanding between the players. It's been real good. It's been real good so far in training camp."
There's nothing the Cavs can do at this point but wait until their team mends itself. In the meantime, getting down trodden serves no purpose.
"You just get better every day," James said. "There's no room for frustration right now. There will be some frustrating moments during the season, which is OK. Which will come. But not right now. It's too early."
The perspective is a healthy one and certainly comes, in part, as a byproduct of how last season's script went for the Cavs. As one NBA executive pointed out Monday, "When you start 19-20 and still make it to the [NBA] Finals, it teaches everybody a little bit about patience."
Indeed, the Cavs' preseason record has seemingly no bearing on how the team is evaluating its progress so far. Whereas tension and uneasiness seemed to permeate last season's training camp when the Cavs were far more healthy as a group than they are now, their experience from growing together as a group already has bred a collective confidence.
"You know what's happening? We come to work every day. We know what we're doing. Guys got a good feel for each other. The staff has a good feel for players. The opposite is true. We go through practices that are not too long but very intense and very focused, and players know. They know when the work is good. They feel it as well as the coaches do," Blatt said. "And that's probably the reason you're getting that sentiment [of confidence] from the outside and certainly I can tell you from our perspective, that is the feeling. I'm not trying to make anything up. That's just the way it's been going so far."
In other words, nobody in Cleveland thinks the sky is falling just yet.