There is no question who has been the Cavaliers' emotional leader throughout this entire season and Sunday night, Antawn Jamison left the game with a fractured left pinky. It was not immediately clear how much time the 12 year veteran will miss, but it has become abundantly clear that the Cavs simply cannot catch a break this season. With the new additions of Baron Davis, Luke Harangody, and Semih Erden yet to join the team, the Cavaliers faced yet another uphill battle. A hard fought 95-91 loss to the upstart Philadelphia 76ers does not hurt nearly as badly as losing the 18 points and 6 rebounds that Jamison provides each night. Just another day in the life of the 2011 Cleveland Cavaliers, who fell to 11-48 after the loss.
Despite Jamison's 3rd quarter exit, the Cavaliers refused to lie down. After blowing an early first quarter 12-point lead, the Cavs found themselves in a 14 point hole well into the second half. JJ Hickson enjoyed another dominating performance, tallying 22 points and 16 boards, before committing a crucial turnover that snuffed out the Cavs' remaining hopes of a comeback. The shorthanded Cavs found themselves trailing by only 3 in the final minutes. With Jamison out of the game, Gibson and Parker were the only players realistically capable of hitting the equalizing 3-pointer. Unfortunately, the Sixers knew this and were amply prepared and responded by blanketing the two sharpshooters, forcing the pass to Hickson. Philly's Thaddeus Young forced a turnover and the Sixers eked out a 95-91 win.
The Cavaliers have dealt with injuries all season. They've done their best to cope with the extended absences of Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams, and Daniel Gibson. And now they'll do their best to live without Jamison. As usual, the Cleveland faithful are forced to search for the silver lining. Luckily for you, I have done the required heavy-lifting in this regard. While the veteran presence that Jamison provides on the court cannot be replicated, the injury gives the newcomers from the Boston Celtics a chance to immediately become acclimated with the team. For however long the Cavs are without Jamison, his 33 minutes per game will likely be spread among Erden, Harangody, and Samardo Samuels, providing the youngsters with the opportunity for even more on-court experience.
The telecast showed an image of the league standings posted in the Cavaliers' locker room. The standings are not of the overall standings from the beginning of the season, but rather of the games following the 26-game losing streak. The loss drops the Cavaliers to a 3-3 record on the new standings. Coach Scott told reporters that it was Anthony Parker's idea to post this version of the standings. Walking into the locker room and seeing the Cavs firmly planted at the bottom of the leaderboard undoubtedly wears on the guys. By replacing the overall standings with the post-Streak version, it perfectly captures the attitude of this team. Unable to change the past, looking to the future.
For more about this game, you can check out the 76ers vs Cavaliers boxscore and the Sixers blog at Liberty Ballers.
The Cavaliers continue their 2011 campaign when the San Antonio Spurs and their NBA-best 49-10 record visit Quicken Loans Arena on Wednesday, March 2nd.