The last time the Cleveland Cavaliers played on a Thursday was January 12th, the 3rd week of the season. You see, Thursday nights are typically the big matchup nights. It’s the night TNT has TV rights and other than their premiere games, there’s usually only one or two overflow games.
So it’s fitting, then, that the Cavaliers finish the season on a Thursday night in Chicago, buried underneath the hype and excitement of the NFL Draft. While Browns fans are anxiously greeting the newest members of their team, Cavaliers fans are saying goodbye to their players.
In a season in which the Cavaliers were mostly ignored outside of Cleveland, save for a handful of people who occasionally flipped over on League Pass to see what that Kyrie Irving guy was doing, the season comes to an end much in the same way it started…quiet, unassuming, and with more questions than answers.
I don’t know who’s going to play in this game. The Bulls could probably use some extra time getting their starters comfortable playing together after missing so much time to injury, but in reality, I’d be stunned to see them play. And if they do, I wouldn’t expect to see them in the 2nd half.
For the Cavaliers, there’s a chance they could be without Anderson Varejao, Antawn Jamison, Kyrie Irving, Daniel Gibson, and Semih Erden. With Byron Scott using the excuse of wanting to see what some of his lesser known players can do, I wouldn’t be surprised to see big minutes from the likes of DJ Kennedy, Donald Sloan, Luke Walton, Luke Harangody, and Omri Casspi.
There’s probably not been another game this season that simultaneously mattered so little and so much. With 1 game left, the Cavaliers, Kings, and Hornets remain all tied up at 21-44 with the Raptors and Nets sitting at 22-43. So if the Cavaliers lose, the worst they can do is share a 3 way tie for 3rd in lottery odds. So you see, this game doesn’t matter because neither team is taking it seriously, but it does matter because of the swing in lottery votes.
For all the talk of tanking, teams in the lottery often win their last game of the season. Sometimes because they are playing a playoff team who is resting their stars, other times it’s because the players give such a great effort in the last game of the season, one last chance to lay it all on the line.
Once upon a time, the Cavaliers were the team resting starters in the last game to prepare for the playoffs. Now they’re the team resting starters to try to not decrease their lottery odds. It’s a sad reality, but the front office and management of this team is clearly committed to bettering this team, and the lottery is the best way to do that.
I know most people who read this site will be watching the NFL Draft tonight. Heck, I will be, too (this is what DVR was made for). But there’s no denying the bittersweet feeling I sense in the pit of my stomach. Basketball season is so much fun, getting to discuss strategies, rebuilding plans, trade ideas, tanking, etc. with all you readers. And after tonight, it will all be finished in a puff of smoke. Vanished into next year.
We’ll surely have more in the next week to put a bow on this season and looking forward to the lottery, the draft, and next season, but for now, this is a fond farewell to the 2011-12 Cleveland Cavaliers, and a season of losing made so much more fun but being able to share thoughts and ideas with all you fellow fans.