This was the biggest game for the Cleveland Cavaliers in several years. With a win, the Cavs would have been just one game behind the Atlanta Hawks for the 8th and final playoff spot. There was every reason for the Cavs to come out with fire. They could grab this opportunity, make the most of it, and try to make this final push for the playoffs. Unfortunately, the entire team was busy catching up on Game of Thrones before the new season starts on Sunday (Joffrey is such a bitch).
Nobody played defense for the Cavs in the first quarter. This was an incredibly important game...and this team let Atlanta score 39 points in the first quarter. To give you an idea of how poorly this game started, the Cavs didn't have 39 points until there were about 4 minutes left in the second quarter. In the end, the Hawks cruised to a 117-98 win. I was really excited to watch this game, but after about ten minutes I was like...
The Cavs were slightly better after the first quarter, but never played nearly well enough to climb out of the big hole that they dug for themselves.
Somehow, there was a guy on the Hawks named Michael Scott who scored 26 points on 12 of 13 shooting. What the heck is that about, Cavs? This is the biggest game of most of your careers and you let the dude from The Office go off?
When I checked the box score with about four minutes left, the Hawks were still shooting roughly 60% from the field for the game. I'm seriously somewhat dumbfounded. This is a team coached by Mike Brown. And in the biggest game of the season, they play zero defense. Sweet.
In retrospect, this outcome isn't *that* surprising. I guess it depends on how much you thought this team had matured since the beginning of the season. Even after the trades, this is a really young team. So when they have to go on the road and play a desperate team in a big game, I guess this is the result that you get. It sucks because it makes it incredibly difficult for them to make the playoffs now. I guess this is just another learning experience in what feels like a season full of them.
The Cavs are now 3 full games behind the Hawks and the New York Knicks are still in between them. The chances that Cleveland can recover and make the playoffs are virtually zero. They'd have to win out....and even then they'd need some help.
Some people will say that now Cavs fans should just root for losses to improve their position in the lottery. I still think that's a silly position. These are meaningful games, no matter how slim their chances of making the postseason. It's important for Dion Waiters, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, and others to learn from these games. It's a huge buzzkill that they weren't able to put together the effort and performance that they needed...but that's life in the NBA rooting for a below average, super young team.
I'll be interested to see what kind of effort the Cavs bring tomorrow night against the Charlotte Bobcats.
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