The Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t playing like a three-time defending Eastern Conference champion.

They lost rather convincingly at home to the much-inferior New York Knicks on Sunday night, dropping their record to 3-4 — the same as the Brooklyn Nets, who also beat the Cavs last week.

While fans might be very concerned in Cleveland, LeBron James isn’t about to freak out over the team’s lackluster play early in the season.

In fairness to the Cavaliers, it’s still October. The Cavs have played deep into June during the past three years. They aren’t going to come out and give maximum effort every regular-season game, especially against a bad team like the Knicks. Veteran teams pace themselves.

But this Cavs roster appears to be worse than in recent seasons. Jae Crowder, the only player contributing in any kind of meaningful way from the Kyrie Irving trade while Isaiah Thomas recovers from a major hip injury, is struggling. So much so that his minutes are down from last season.

While Cleveland’s defense has genuine issues to sort out, there’s plenty of time for Cavs coach Ty Lue to right the ship. But if fixes aren’t found, the 2018 Eastern Conference playoffs could be very compelling.

Thumbnail photo via Derick E. Hingle/USA TODAY Sports Images