Shortly after one of the most epic collapses in NBA history, when the Cavaliers blew a 26-point lead heading into the fourth quarter in a 126-125 overtime loss to the Atlanta Hawks. That loss came just two days after losing by double digits at home to the Hawks who were resting all of their stars and also on the second half of a back-to-back.
Basically, this home-and-home with Atlanta didn’t go well, but head coach Tyronn Lue isn’t really sweating it.
“I think we’re ready (for the playoffs),” Lue said minutes after his team was outscored 44-18 in the fourth quarter. “We’re still the champs. We lost the game. We lost a tough game. But you see what we’re capable of doing and how we’re capable of playing. I’m not discouraged, and neither is our team. It’s a tough loss for us, but that’s how the game goes.”
Well, uh, that’s certainly one way to look at it.
I think the big takeaway from that quote is that no matter how much the fans, media, management or even Coach Lue might want it, this Cavaliers team just isn’t going to operate on the schedule we want for them.
There’s a natural arc that fans obviously want this team to go on. In the wake of the Boston blowout, it felt like the Cavaliers had decided to take care of business, lock up the one seed, and rest the final two games of the season.
They clearly felt differently.
Sometimes, when I’m doing chores around my apartment, I’ll get a relatively big chore done, like cleaning the kitchen. It’s at that point when, feeling contented by knocking one of the things I have to do off the list (with plenty more to do) that I sit back and play video games for the next three hours. That was what the Cleveland Cavaliers did in their last three games. They got done with a pretty big chore (the Celtics) and let the small chores slide, and their apartment still needs cleaning.
LeBron James, for his part, also thinks the Cavaliers will be ready.
"We'll be ready. Yup. We'll be ready when it get here," James said. "We still have some things to do with two games left, but yeah, we'll be ready."
The thing is, we sort of have to take the Cavaliers at their word until they prove us wrong. That’s the track record they developed last season, even if the numbers are worse this season.
Fear the Sword’s Justin Rowan likes to joke that if the Cavaliers win the title after this regular season, they’ll struggle to make the playoffs the next year because the effort level will be so low. He’s probably right.
There’s little doubt the Cavaliers can reliably flip the legendary “switch” we’ve heard about for so long, but it’ll be interesting to see just how high of a gear they can shift into when it really, really counts.