Watching the Cavaliers play basketball is getting more and more emotionally deflating. This entire year was all about losing, and it has pretty much gone as expected. Lots of losses, a win here and there. But as the season comes to a close, the brand of basketball the Cavs play has become increasingly pathetic. Even that, arguably, was expected. After all, the third pick is more valuable than the fourth, and the second all the moreso. That doesn’t make it any easier to watch. The 76ers ran the Cavs right out of Wells Fargo Center today. The final score was 91-77, but anyone who watched the game knows that it was never in question, the winner never in doubt. Halfway through the first quarter, the 76ers had a 19-3 lead. In the third quarter they built the lead up to 28. A few garbage-time buckets cut the lead to 14, and that was all she wrote. Given the horrific nature of the “contest” that I’m sure about six people watched all of, I’m going to skip a full game action recap. Instead, some notes on the game and notable performances.
- Kyrie Irving played a very ugly 19 minutes, picked up five fouls, and was unsurprisingly left on the bench for the rest of the game. Kyrie looked uninspired on both ends, but he faced bad luck on a few layup attempts. The rim was not Mr. Irving’s friend tonight. It isn’t hard to see that Kyrie has tired of the incessant losing, and that’s what worries me most about the Cavs’ end of season record. As analytically-minded fans, it may be easy to grasp the concept that a few awful seasons is crucial to small-market success in the NBA. But that may be harder for a young star to internalize. No one likes to lose, and another season of it would undoubtedly create an embittered Kyrie Irving.
- Tristan Thompson continues to be blissfully unaware of the fact that the Cavs are tanking, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to watch. TT dropped 12 and 12 in 26 minutes, showing off that push shot he seemingly developed overnight. Unfortunately for his self-esteem, he was seemingly incapable of containing Spencer Hawes, who totally went off.
- Marreese Speights is a very talented player. When he avoids falling in love with mid-range jumpers, Speights can play at a near All-Star level; the aggression, skill and athleticism is all there.
- Kevin Jones plays hard, has 17-foot range, and can’t jump. He’s a solid end-of-bench option, and the Cavs should hold onto him.
- In a strange turn of events, Omri Casspi has seemingly made it out of Byron Scott’s doghouse in the final week of the season. Does this mean that the Cavs might extend the $3.3 million qualifying offer to Casspi this offseason, or is the increased PT simply part of the tanking? Whatever the case, he has looked very effective when he’s seen the floor recently, and I wouldn’t mind in the slightest a three-man SF rotation of Victor Oladipo, Alonzo Gee and Omri Casspi.
- Dion Waiters wasn’t very good at all, not that it matters. The time he missed from the knee surgery clearly threw Dion off-rhythm, ending a promising and often explosive rookie season on a sour note. By the way, Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis are the only players from last year’s draft that are inarguably more valuable than Dion.
- Damien Wilkins hit a lot of turnaround jumpers. Evan Turner still isn’t very good at basketball, and doesn’t have a position. Thaddeus Young is a baller. Jrue Holiday isn’t as good as Kyrie Irving, but it’s fun to see a young point guard play defense. A real treat for Cavaliers fans. It appears Arnett Moultrie is alive and well after falling in the draft, and then barely ever playing. Doug Collins is one of the few NBA coaches that I wouldn’t take over Byron Scott.
URGENT: Dion Waiters needs a nickname. “D-Wait” is lame and a near-homonym of D-Wade. Saint Weirdo, while fascinating, is despised by much of the Cleveland population. D.W. is a character from the children’s show Arthur. “Chubs,” as my friend calls Dion, is both derogatory, meaningless and insulting. Get to work, Cavs fans! Hit me up with suggestions at @dansoch. For serious nickname/nickname-branded T-shirt discussions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.