TORONTO — Moments before the Cleveland Cavaliers tipped off the season against the Raptors, chairman Dan Gilbert sent an inspirational message to fans, letting them know what to expect from the new-look squad and reinforcing the team’s commitment to winning despite LeBron James’ absence.
“Tonight kicks off (a) Cavs season where our players, coaches, front office and the entire franchise are united with a mission of delivering our fans and all of Cleveland an inspirational brand of team basketball,” Gilbert tweeted Wednesday night. “We will rep in a manner that will make you proud. Let’s grind.”
Gilbert capped his social media post with the team’s season slogan, “Be The Fight.”
Tonight kicks off an @cavs season where our players, coaches, front officee & the entire franchise are united with a mission of delivering our fans & all of CLE an inspirational brand of team basketball. We will rep in a manner that will make you proud. Let’s grind. #BeTheFight
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) October 17, 2018
Written off by many, the Cavs are viewed as a flawed team, one that will miss James’ play creation and ultimately tumble down the standings and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2014 — when James returned and elevated the Cavaliers to the top of the conference.
Gilbert’s message about team basketball is the same one head coach Tyronn Lue has been preaching during training camp.
Without the high-level talent, the Cavs will have to take a committee approach, play harder than they have during the regular season in the last four seasons and use the all-hands-on deck style of offense that features movement, passing and numerous options staying involved throughout.
“We’re going to have to play with even better pace than we have in years past,” leader Kevin Love said recently. “That’s 1 through 4, 1 through 5 pushing the ball. We have much different sets than we did when we had LeBron, we have to really get to every spot, every initiation in our offense, we can’t expect anybody to bail us out. That was a luxury we had with LeBron being on our team.
“On the defensive end we’re going to have to play extremely physical. We’re not a tall, lengthy team, but we’re a team that can be very gritty, get to 50-50 balls, box out and limit teams to only one shot. There’s a number of things we can do to help ourselves out and do our work early. We’re hoping to surprise teams and play extremely well.”