We were told things were supposed to be different. In a way, they were. Rather than having nothing in the way of a defensive philosophy, tightening up and allowing an opponent to slowly climb back into a game in which they have no business being, it was—this time, anyway—the offense. The Cavaliers turned an 18-point halftime lead against the Phoenix Suns into a nine-point loss, at home, falling by as many as 11 midway through the fourth quarter (a difficult feat in any professional sport) by not being able to execute on one of the game’s integral activities—projecting the basketball in such a way that it goes over and through the orange cyllander which happens to be suspended 10 feet above the hardwood floor.
They would score just six points in the third quarter, just two points more than the team’s record for lowest point total in a quarter, but easily the lowest single-quarter point total for any team in the NBA this season. It was, by all accounts, difficult to watch. Those witnessing the game from their homes blared 140 characters of frustration. Those in attendance festooned the team with boos. Naturally, when these types of events happen, we attempt to apply some sort of rationale to what was ultimately a complete implosion.
The loss reminded many of Byron Scott’s tenure as head coach of the Cavaliers, an era that provided much in the way of squandered leads. It was the Phoenix Suns who, just a season ago, provided the Cavaliers with a bit of history, coming back from a 26-point deficit and handing the Cavaliers a loss. Later that year, it would be the New York Knicks and Miami Heat who would each fall by a substantial margin, only to come back and win their respective games. This issue, the one of complete unraveling in the wake of an early lead, was something that was to have been rectified with the firing of Scott and the hiring of the defensive-minded Mike Brown.