August 26, 2014

Cavaliers Get Smashed In Atlanta, Have Lost Last Three By Seventy-Six Points

On Tuesday Stephen Curry did not play for the Golden State Warriors when they traveled to Cleveland. On Friday Derrick Rose didn’t play in Cleveland either, and on Saturday All Star Center Al Horford was sidelined for the Cavs visit to Atlanta as well.

After being 6-6 this past Monday, the Cavaliers dropped each of those three games by 10, 39, and 27 points respectively. In the words of Martin Lawrence back in 2003, stuff just got real.

Real adversity that stared this Cavaliers team and coaching staff directly in the face with each of Joe Johnson’s game high 25 points last night. Each of Jeff Teague’s 14, Marvin Williams’ 12, as well as each of fifty-eight year-old Jerry Stackhouse’s 6.

It was that many Hawks who finished the night scoring 11 or more points for the game too, with 12 Hawks in total having scored, and this laugher was never close. Not exactly the performance you’re looking for after getting humiliated at home the previous night by 40.

If you are an organization that is trying to rebuild a team and culture after setting the record for the most ever consecutive losses in NBA history a season before, you cannot allow this recent trend of non-competitiveness continue. It has to stop. The Cavs are going to lose games this year because their talent isn’t really too good. They’ll probably lose a lot of them by season’s end, and that’s not the problem. In some ways losing right now is beneficial in a big picture sense, but  the unwillingness to compete, fight, or try on a nightly basis isn’t. Things could get much worse here too if that doesn’t change quickly.

The Cavs head to Miami next on Tuesday, and they will in all likelihood get beat there too. I think it’s important for them to come out and fight though on Tuesday. Really important. The experience of actually being in a game and competing for a real chance to win against high quality NBA opponents is the experience that Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson need right now. Even if they do inevitably fall short. Losing by 30 doesn’t do anything for anybody, but losing to Miami by say 7 with a chance to win in the 3rd quarter or something could help. At least a little bit.

Following that trip to Miami, if the Cavaliers don’t get up off the canvas and offer some type of collective punch back here, they could wake up on February 17th when the Heat then invade the Q having lost somewhere around 9 or 10 of their next 12 games. Starting on Tuesday, the Cavaliers play Miami twice, Boston twice, the Knicks, Magic, Mavericks, Clippers, Sixers, and Pacers. On paper the Nets, who the Cavaliers beat once already, and the Bucks are probably their two best chances to win.

I know the Celtics are struggling, but they will be looking at their two game set with Cleveland as a great opportunity to get right quick. D’Antoni’s Knicks are floundering right now too, but they still employ a few guys the Cavaliers can’t cover at all. And if Dwight shows up in Cleveland the Cavaliers have no chance of covering him either.

But this isn’t about winning so much as it is about competing. I’m not at all disappointed in the fact that the Cavs lost to the Hawks last night specifically, I figured they would as soon as the schedule came out. It’s disappointing that they didn’t show up though. It wreaks of last season, stinks of zero progress. However small, the Cavaliers need to take steps forward this year, and it will be detrimental to the rebuild if they simply give up and fall directly on their faces every night. No matter how many ping pong balls they’re awarded for doing so.

What this rebuild is also about, beyond the idea of losing a bunch of times to better your draft position, is that there also needs to be a culture of competition created as well. Guys need to show up to work ready to put themselves out there and give effort.  You can’t just roll over. You can’t follow up a 40-point loss with a 30-point loss. Even if Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson combined for 34 points and 7 rebounds in said loss, that’s still not helping anybody.

The veteran leaders have no real point on this team if they can’t step forward and try to redirect things right now. Antawn Jamison can’t follow a 1 for 10 game up with the 3 for 7 night he had on Saturday. Anthony Parker has to somehow give you more than 1 for 6 effort with 2 TO’s if you are going to start the guy. I know Kyrie Irving’s plus / minus was a minus infinity on Saturday, and I know he did turn it over seven times, but those guys are supposed to be here to help the kid out on night’s like that. Not go in the tank if their best player is struggling. Might as well call up Manny Harris and Christian Eyenga to take their places if that’s what’s going to happen.

They can turn this thing around immediately though. They almost don’t even need to win in order to do so either. Go play the Heat and lose by 5. Be within striking distance as late as possible, give Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson the chance to truly compete against the NBA’s elite. That’ll help move this thing forward even if they lose. The garbage they’ve been playing through during these last few games isn’t making anybody better.

(Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images)

  • Harv 21

    Saw a little of the third and fourth quarters and turned it off. Total lack of effort by everyone, even Andy. No boxing out, no moving feet, no exertion for loose balls. Happens to all teams every season, but disturbing two nights in a row, this early in the season.

  • http://twitter.com/BenCox83 Ben Cox

    I’d rather watch Christian Eyenga and Manny Harris. 

  • http://twitter.com/NFLBrownsSB Cleveland Browns

    This is off topic, but is the background color going to be changed with this new format. Grey is a little boring. How a about that Cavs wine color? Or teams colors when you change from team to team?

  • R R

    The laws of mathematics guarantees that playing teams (especially good ones like the Heat) to narrow losses will also earn you a fair share of wins.  Close wins pegs us closer to mediocrity and further from a top 5 pick.  There is no way around that.

    The best case scenario would be a profoundly lucky disparity between Pythagorean wins and actual wins at the end of the season.  That would mean losing a ton of close games and winning very few of them.  Don’t count on it.  Byron Scott could theoretically conspire to help us in that direction, but I’m pretty certain that’s not how he coaches.  Losing games reflects poorly on a coach.  Winning without talent, on the other hand, boosts his market value.

    What else is there to say?  We suck and we’re supposed to suck, but Kyrie Irving is really really good.  It doesn’t look like any part of Chris Grant’s strategic plan has been foiled yet.

  • Anonymous

    Pyrrhic wins?

  • Anonymous

    I agree the best* case scenario is losing a ton of close games to get a high pick.  Getting blown out night after night is not an option.  I want effort with my talent. 

    What would be catastrophic is a team with all the talent in the world and no work ethic.

    *”best” that is still likely.  The real best case scenario is winning the NBA Championship this year

  • Yeah

    Hard to win when yr veterans make 5 baskets between them, casspi, Irving and Thompson all tried and contributed pretty mightily while the vets did nothing. That is very troubling…

  • Jaker

    Couldn’t agree more with everything said. Why is Parker or Jamison on this team right now? Because they are the guys that are supposed to make sure these losses don’t happen. The Cavs are doing a poor job at rebuilding right now.

  • Shamrock

    Casspi has no game I think Parker has rubbed off on him!

  • R R

    Luke Harangody: [Luke stands up] Well then I guess there’s only one thing left to do. 
    Antwan Jamison: What’s that? 
    Luke Harangody: Win the whole f’ing thing.  

  • R R

    I wouldn’t question the work ethic of this group.

    There are 5 guys that actually matter on this team: Irving, Thompson, Varejao, Gibson, Sessions.  These are NBA-caliber players who are fighting out there and get paid what they’re worth; I’m not worried about them and have never suspected any attitude or effort problems.

    The rest of the guys are lucky to be on an NBA roster making NBA money.  They’re all fighting for their lives out there because they’re a stones throw away from making 50k playing for the Dakota Wizards.  If that doesn’t motivate you nothing will.  We didn’t draft them, they cost nothing, and they are utterly replaceable. They are the filler.  Right now we have alot, later we’ll have less.

    Jamison and Parker are the only guys who could be mailing it in.  Still,. any perceived lack of effort from them is probably lack of talent/youth.  And who cares if they mail it in?  Neither will be on the next Cavs team to make the playoffs, and neither will hog future cap space.

    The biggest threat to a franchise is giving a guy like JJ Hickson $10 million a year contract and getting no Wins in return.  Luckily JJ will come to that crossroads with some other team.  For more details on this subject, see Blatche, Andray.

  • Anonymous

    You forgot Gee in your list of players that “matter” or that are working hard.

    Alonzo put in unbelievable work in the offseason and it is showing this year.

  • Anonymous

    I’m thoroughly confused in your statement claiming the Cavs are doing a “poor job” of rebuilding right now.

    They acquired the number 1 and 4 picks in last year’s draft both of which are making Grant look great, they’ve utilized the amnesty clause to begin to free up enormous cap space to utilize during this but mainly the next offseason, they utilized a short term high payoff deal to bring back AP as they desperately needed additional wing players, they have one of the best “rebuild” head coaches in the game and a deeply committed owner.

    You asked in your post why AP and Jamison are on this team. I addressed why AP is currently on the roster and as for Jamison its called a contract. Who would you have liked us to trade him two with 2 years left on his deal at an outrageous cost and who would you have liked us to get back?

    Trade deadline will see us shed Jamison, Sessions or Gibson and Varejao if the right deal comes along for him.

    This is literally year one of the rebuild and the FO is doing everything right so far………except for Casspi. Yeesh.
    :)

  • CBI

    Don’t forget about the pick we got with Casspi, even if he craps the bed the book isn’t closed on the trade yet.

  • Anonymous

    Great call CBI.

  • R R

    Props to the guy for improving himself and playing well this year, a positive outcome for someone fighting for his life to carve out a role in the NBA.

    A nice 16 game stretch but he’s gotta keep it up for a year or more to “matter” to me.  He would be collecting DNP-CD’s on a whole lot of teams, and is pretty much a replaceable player until further notice.

    His chances of being the starting SF on a Cavs contender are very small, to say it nicely.  I hope he can be a reliable backup to Kidd-Gilchrist.

    Don’t get too hyped about an undrafted player.  The list of successful ones is very short and Brad Miller is on it.

  • Anonymous

    agree that Gee is not in line for starting SF of the future, but definitley has the chance (with continued work) to be a legit bench player.

  • Chucky Brown

    I believe the Kings would have to make the playoffs for us to have their pick,

    I dont see that happening anytime soon in the west

  • Anonymous

    The draft pick is lottery-protected next year, top-13 protected in 2013, top-12 protected in 2014 and top-10 protected from 2015-17. If the Cavs don’t receive the pick by 2017, they will receive a second-round pick