The Cavaliers suffered one of the worst 2nd half collapses in a long time against the Phoenix Suns on Sunday night. They led by 18 at halftime and saw that lead disappear within a matter of minutes in the third quarter. I know it's just lip service, but here's how the guys in the Cavs locker room reacted.
For most teams, you go to halftime and work on the things that you messed up in the first half. And if you have a good first half, then you try to improve upon those. If you're playing really well, then point out the things that you were doing well. Make sure that you stay motivated and come out ready to play in the second half. But if you're the Cavs, you just have massive rap battles and somehow forget everything about the first half. Here's what Mike Brown had to say about how the Cavs came out in the 2nd half:
"Obviously, it is very disappointing with the way we came out in the second half. At halftime, we addressed our team. We talked about the job we were doing in transition. We talked about the job we were doing contesting shots in the first half. We had four uncontested shots that we gave Phoenix in the first half. We talked about the ball movement that we had in the first half, and we came out and we did the opposite of everything we talked about at halftime and what we did in the first half which was very disappointing."
I'm not sure exactly who is to blame, but when the team comes out and does the "opposite of everything we talked about," maybe you need to change up your halftime routine.
But here's the more damning quote. Tell us how you really feel, Mike:
"It was very disappointing and our guys should be embarrassed with the way we played in the second half. Not only did we not contest shots, not only did we not get the bodies on three-point shooters, not only did we not move the basketball, but we turned the ball over too. We had nine turnovers for 15 points in a half. We should all feel embarrassed of the way we played in the second half."
Or maybe this is the worst quote? Brown talks about how the Cavs handled their success of the first half poorly. Success in the first half of ONE basketball game? No wonder this team is 16-28. At even the vaguest sign of success, they get really satisfied with themselves and decide to boycott basketball for a little while.
"We just didn't handle the success that we had in the first half well. I don't know if we thought it was going to be easy because we were up 18 and Phoenix was just going to roll over but everything that we talked about at halftime, preached at the beginning of the game and throughout the course of the first half, just went away."
Kyrie caught some flack this weekend, for a variety of things, but he's still trying to say the right things. I know that fans have grown tired of hearing nice soundbites from Kyrie and then seeing something totally different when he steps on the court. My response to that is that I'm right with you. But at the same time, I understand that he's just 21 years old and he's still trying to learn how to do all of the right things. He's learned how to say most of the right things, but he doesn't quite do them just yet.
"I take full responsibility for the end of the game. We blocked the pick-and-roll and I didn't close out Channing Frye's chest. He got a three and it went from a one possession game to a two possession game. I just have to be better, but all around, they just outworked us."
Kyrie also made a good point about the start of the second half. Looking back at it now, it feels as though the Suns were able to score with ease and the Cavs were incompetent offensively. While the latter was definitely true, the third quarter started very slowly for both teams. It took the Suns almost three minutes before they hit their first shot in the second half. They only scored 25 points in the 3rd quarter, which is basically a normal quarter. The problem is that it looks so enormous when the Cavs only score 6 points.
"It's definitely frustrating. You can put two, three stops together, but then (we didn't score) and then (Phoenix) came down and hit two big shots. We didn't score and then the momentum shifted. We lost our rhythm offensively, but it has to start on the defensive end. They came out and just hit us in the mouth and we didn't fight back."
You see that bit about the Cavs getting hit in the mouth and not fighting back? Yeah, that seems to be something of a recurring theme with this team. They just aren't very mentally tough.
The Suns do a lot of things better than the Cavs, but on Sunday this was the thing that stood out the most:
"We are a really hard-nosed team. It doesn't matter if we are up or down 20 points, we are still going to battle until the end. "
If only we could say that about these Cavaliers.