This team is awful, and it’s not the team’s fault. It’s the fault of Dan Gilbert, whose hubris and ego led him to believe that he could coddle James and get away with it for years, believing that the narcissistic superstar would give Cleveland the hometown discount in preferring Mo Williams over Dwyane Wade. When James declined, Gilbert’s ego led him to believe that the team that James (and Danny Ferry and Mike Brown) left behind would be worth anything on its own. –Kelly Dwyer, Jan., 2011
I would like to see any evidence that this pathetic, gutless team has a heartbeat or any sign of life. I see none. After a shameful showing that was an affront to anybody who works for a living, I see guys walk out of the locker room with food, heading to the rest of their evenings. Nobody’s embarrassed. Nobody’s inconvenienced. Nobody seems to care. –Mary Schmitt Boyer, Jan., 2011
This Cavalier team is setting its own records for futility, much like that loathed 2011 squad. Personally, I’m starting to wonder how Krolik and McGowan made it through that year without going into a full meltdown. This year’s monument to incompetence is setting its own records. According to the Athletic’s Joe Vardon, “The Cavs became the first team in major pro sports history to lose four consecutive home games by 20 points apiece” with their loss to Utah, and added to that streak Saturday night.
The crazy thing about this Cavs team (and this was true in ’11) is that the Cavs might be worse than their record. A couple of their victories have come from squads just flat out disrespecting them and being shocked when the Cavs gave enough effort to win an NBA game. Teams like the Pelicans, though, toy with Cleveland for two quarters before just deciding to stomp on them instead of waiting for the wine and gold to collapse.
Tonight the stomping and the collapse occurred at the same time as Jrue, The Brow, and Julius Randle all dropped at least 20, and combined for 27 rebounds, 14 dimes, and seven steals. They methodically bled Cleveland with a 35 point gutting.
The Cavs played a seemingly competent first half that saw their score their first 15 on three pointers, and Collin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, and Cedi Osman all score in double digits. JC was especially effective attacking the rack and not settling as he dropped 15 in a nice selection of drives and post-ups which inevitably led to him chucking some dumb shots later when he was “hot.” Alas, Jrue Holiday lit up Youngbull, Burks, and Clarkson while Cedi was stuck on the weakside guarding E’Twaun Moore. Why they didn’t move Cedi onto Jrue was a mystery, as Holiday went 7-10 for 16 points.
The Cavs seemed to have moved Sexton completely off the ball at times and had Alec Burks run much of the point guard duties as he chipped in five first half dimes. The point of this decision is lost on me. If Sexton can’t handle the ball and play point guard, he should be in Canton learning to do such. Alec Burks probably won’t even be with the team in a month.
Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance started and and then committed maddeningly dumb fouls to end up exiting the game far too soon in the first quarter with two a piece. The decision to start Larry was similarly baffling as one of Thompson or Nance should’ve been in the game at all times to counter Anthony Davis. Nance was incredulous at his two fouls. One was due to him not having his arms straight up on a drive, and the other was due to reaching on Davis, and the Brow going up through Nance’s arms, which is a call NBA stars get every time. Larry has to be smarter. He just can’t help himself. His stupid arms just have a habit of getting in the way.
Channing Frye was valiant in seven first half minutes, but as I tweeted, he’s old and can’t get a shot off against decent defense anymore. He still talked on D, put himself in the right positions, and played with a modicum of professionalism but couldn’t get off the ground enough to produce a single rebound. The half ended with a coasting New Orleans squad up 61-52.
The Second Half started strangely as coach Drew and Mike Longabardi pushed a dumpster all the way from outside the Q (there’s a lot out there for the renovation) onto half court and then lit it on fire. Out of the dumpster jumped the Cavs starters who each missed a shot (at least they spread it around) and allowed the Pels to manhandle them before five quick Pelican points forced Larry Drew to call time out with his squad down 16.
The problem was the dumpster. With it sitting in the middle of the floor stinking like poo and burning tires, the Cavs couldn’t run an offense. It’s hard to shoot or do anything when you’re holding your own nose. Collin Sexton kept running into it over and over, too. He should make sure he’s up to date on his tetanus shots. The Cavs committed three straight turnovers after the timeout, like this one where Cedi couldn’t hold onto the ball because of the trash slime, and then committed an aneurism-inducingly stupid foul on Moore giving E’Twaun the and-1.
And look at that crowd. I mean yezus. The Cavs don’t deserve that kind of support right now. Maybe it was the great weather. Maybe it was Cedi Osman Stainless Steel Tumbler giveaway night. Maybe it was the fact that ole CavsDan squeezed their fans for season tickets last spring. But holy crap that’s a pretty full stadium for a pretty awful team. I mean the Pistons have a winning team and there’s more empty seats in Detroit than there are at a Marlins game. The Cleveland faithful deserve better.
If it was me, the rubber/metallic “thunk” of Collin Sexton’s bricked three-ball would’ve sent me to the exits. Most probably left after the ensuing New Orleans possession when a dumb and obvious TT foul caused TT to aimlessly jaw at the ref for 30 seconds before Larry Drew’s rage timeout with Cleveland down 21
Larry Drew said he subbed out four starters at a time in the third quarter because he couldn't sub out all five. Cavs only had four healthy players on the bench.
— Greg Swartz (@CavsGregBR) January 6, 2019
Comically, the Cavs came in and promptly turned it over. Again. Julius Randle was waiting in the tree stand to put this wounded deer out its misery as he stole a lazy pass from Clarkson to Nance and then cruelly raced to the other end for a layup. THAT’s the kind of meanness the Cavs have lacked in the last four years.
The only silver lining in this game, and I mean the only, came in the next stretch when Jalen Jones got pissed off and scored seven straight points, off a nice face-up, a tough putback, and a “while you dopes are <bleep>ing around out here, I’m playin for a <bleep>ing job” three pointer. Jones would finish the quarter with 9 and 15 and five boards on the night.
After that, the Pels ran a layup line, Larry Nance scored a couple times and New Orleans finished the quarter up 96-72. The highlight was this Brow Thumper, after a Cavalier defensive rebounding fail.
After that? 12 minutes of Jordan Clarkson garbage time, an ever expanding Pelican lead, and a pair of Channing Frye triples, the kind that only come from no real opposing defense. Even I couldn’t take it. I turned it off to watch the last season of Ash Versus Evil Dead at the five minute mark.
Larry Drew is supposedly considering moving Jordan Clarkson to the starting lineup. The mood after the game was described as “somber,” and supposedly everyone had something to say after the game. To me the issue is obvious by all the cranky questions about Sexton’s minutes fed to Joe Vardon by the team’s vets. These guys can’t stand playing with a point guard who has no idea what he’s doing, has in no way earned the kind of minutes he’s getting, and whose game right now is an anathema to winning basketball. The entire team’s energy level noticeably drops when they’re playing with Collin Sexton. They know they have no shot and that he’s going to play no matter how bad he is. He’s a QB who’s lost his team. Maybe John Gruden can pick him up.
The ridiculous edict that the rook must play is actually doing Sexton no favors as he earns the vets’ ire and tirelessly works on his jumper instead of learning now to finish off the glass, handle the ball, or play point guard.
Once again Mr. Gilbert is proving to be that he can’t put together a competent basketball product as he alienates the one good derivative from the Kyrie Irving trade (Nance) by changing his role on a nightly basis. Right now the Cavs’ culture is toxic and they’re historically bad. Until reason and accountability return to the rotation, the schemes, and the roster, it’s tough to ask these guys to play hard. But as fans we will either ask or turn away. CavsDan risks pushing away an entire generation of Cavalier fans he built over the last four years until he lets people who know what they’re doing run the team on the floor, on the bench, and in the front office.