April 18, 2014

Will the Cavs Win Another Game this Year?

What a difference a year makes.

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.

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Cavs Beat Bulls, Is the easy schedule harmful?

At the beginning of this month, I wrote that the Cavaliers March schedule was perhaps the easiest monthly stretch of games that any team in the league would face all season.  They have won 9 of 10 so far with the only loss coming in Milwaukee sans LeBron.  They continued their run through the Central Division last night against a depleted Chicago Bulls team.  The Cavs played with low intensity and with little regard for their opponent.  The game was closer than it should have been but the Cavs appeared to show no concern or doubt that they would not end up with the victory when all was said and done.  The main takeaway from this game was yet another milestone achieved by LeBron: youngest player in NBA history to reach 15,000 points.

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Cavs Enter March with Easy Schedule Ahead

Cleveland Cavaliers wastelandAs the calendar turns to March and we await word on Shaq’s injury and Z’s potential return, let’s look at the upcoming schedule as the Cavs try to deal with their shorthanded frontcourt and fully incorporate Antawn Jamison into the rotation. It has been well documented that the first half of the season challenged the Cavs with one of the toughest schedules in the league. It included their two West Coast trips within one month and more road games than any other team in the league.

As a result, in February the team did not have to leave Cleveland or the Q for an amazing 20 day stretch. While February provided the Cavaliers with a comfortable home schedule, as this new month begins, the March slate of opponents provide little resistance on paper. Here are some quick notes and facts about the next 31 days for the Cavs as they battle shorthanded.

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Merry Christmas Cavs: 4 Games, 6 Nights, 5700 Miles, Partridge in a Pear Tree

NicholsonSince the release of the schedule, Cavs observers have been looking at these first two months as the toughest stretch with the biggest hurdles to clear.  The Cavs are not winning in the convincing manner that they did last season and they certainly look shaky at times on both ends of the floor.  Yet we lag only a few games behind the crème of the league in the loss column with our first major Western Conference trip kicking off tomorrow night in Big D.  Marc Stein, a Western Conference guy and the lead writer in charge of ESPN’s power rankings, fairly or unfairly, is typically hard on the Cavs.  But Stein reminded us this week that “the Cavs — for all the lukewarm reviews so far — are a tidy 7-2 against teams at .500 or better.” 

Let’s hope they continue to play to the level of their competition on this trip because they will be facing 3 of the top 4 records in the West and a fourth team that, while under .500, is 10-3 at home.  In addition to the tough competition, the 4 games come with little rest in a 6 day span – as a frame of reference, the Cavs second West Coast swing, which happens a mere two weeks after this one ends, consists of 5 games in 9 days.  Lebron, in his postgame remarks last night, was referring to it as “business trip to the Wild, Wild West.”  We will bring you your game previews for each specific game this week but let’s take a quick look at each team and what we should expect/hope for on this trip as a whole.

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