Cleveland Cavaliers coach David Blatt has insisted that his team must finish second in the Eastern Conference this season, although LeBron James disagrees.
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Blatt was speaking after Monday’s 106-92 loss to the Miami Heat, which coupled with the Toronto Raptors’ win ensured that the Cavs’ lead in second was cut to just two games.
Eight of Cleveland’s last 13 games of the regular season are at home, and only five are against teams over .500 with the Bucks twice, Memphis, Chicago and Washington still to come.
“We got to finish in second place,” Blatt told reporters, ESPN reports.
The Cavs coach also added that he would try to rest players when and where he can ahead of the post-season, with James in particular previously stating that he would like less minutes in the run up to the playoffs while Kevin Love continues to sit out.
Nevertheless, James played against the Heat despite tweaking his knee the previous night, while he is also suffering from a troublesome lower back and strained wrist, yet he believes that it doesn’t matter what position the Cavs finish as he will be ready to play any team.
“The coaching staff, if that’s what they want, but for me, I never play for seeding. I just play,” he said.
“And wherever at the end of the season we land, I’m ready. Just get me in the playoffs. Get me in the playoffs, I feel like I can win on anybody’s floor. I feel like I can win at home. I’m that confident in my ability and our team’s ability. So I’ve never in my 12-year career played for seeding. That’s just not how I work.”
As things stand, if Cleveland remain in the No.2 spot, the Heat would be their first-round playoff foes as they are currently 30-36 for the season and are in a tie with the Indiana Pacers for the No 7 seed in the East.
For a Conference that is widely regarded as being weak, there are certainly some potentially exciting first round clashes ahead and while Blatt naturally wants to finish as high as possible, the title favourites will face a difficult challenge where ever they land.