What a difference a month makes – it was only one month ago that the Cavs found themselves in the middle of a three-game road winning streak. I attended the middle game of said streak where the Cavaliers pulled away from the Washington Wizards in the final two minutes of a game that fell on the second night of a road back-to-back.
The Cavaliers would continue their winning ways in New Jersey just three nights later. The team displayed a ton of heart and fight in gutting out road games in the final minutes after blowing large leads in the third quarter. They appeared to be well on their way to a respectable season and certainly a notch above the lowest tier of the NBA and specifically the cellar dwellers of the Eastern Conference.
The catastrophe of last Thursday evening has hastened a rapid plunge into the darkness, a week of pathetic competitive basketball output unmatched around here since 2002. In less than a week, the Cavaliers have lost to the last-place team in three separate divisions. Oh, the losses were also by an average of 21 points. This came on top of the 28-point loss to the Heat that left many Clevelanders questioning the heart of this team. This week of uncompetitive games has left many wondering if it can get any worse. Unfortunately for the Cavaliers, it appears the easy part of the schedule during this holiday season has now passed.
The Cavs have been run off the floor by these cellar dwellers away from the friendly comforts of The Q, with the fact that they were played on the road being some sort of consolation I suppose. But it’s not going to get any easier as the road is where they will find themselves for much of this month – and not facing last place teams. The Cavaliers return to The Q tonight to face a first place Bulls team headed in an opposite direction. They then hit the road for four straight games which, after not being within 30 of Minny and 20 of Philly, for all intents and purposes, appear to be unwinnable games.
Tell me where you see the Cavs winning this month. They host the Knicks on the 18th and the Timberwolves on the 26th and those appear to be the most realistic possibilities for a W. Is this reactionary or alarmist? Possibly. But after this week, is this as low as it goes? Eh, not from looking at the road ahead.
In sum, they have 11 games left this month. Six of these are on the road where they appear unable or unwilling to simply be competitive. Three of the five home games are against the NBA’s elite and current first place teams Chicago, Utah, and Orlando. This leaves us with the aforementioned Knicks and Timberwolves games and a potential ceiling of a 2-13 month.
I do not mean to pile on the Cleveland pessimism but this week has left us all wondering whether or not this team has simply quit – a word Cavalier fans have invoked all too often in this year of our discontent. It went from good to bad so quickly that this schizophrenic squad could swing back to competitive again, beginning tonight with the Bulls at the Q. Coach Scott, however, is using buzz words and phrases like “heart” and “jump ship.” He’s not sure his team is even listening to him. It’s only going to get tougher after squandering what should have been legitimate opportunities for road wins this week. It leaves me actually considering and publicly writing about whether they will visit the win column the rest of this year (calendar year, that is).
A year ago, an entire month of winless basketball seemed unimaginable but after this week, the potential for such a disaster is on the table. What a difference a year makes. What a difference a month makes.