The Cavaliers hung tough for the first 16 or so minutes, but ultimately, this game was never going to be a close one against the Blazers. Portland came away with a 141-105 win in Cleveland to drop the Cavs to 21-45 on the season.
Right now, the Cavs are just a team that’s overmatched and looks exhausted, and it’s hard to blame the guys on the court for that. This game was one that the Blazers needed to have, and truthfully, the Cavs were better off losing.
The offense wasn’t the issue on Wednesday night, but the Cavs aren’t in a place right now with their roster to be able to compete in shootouts such as this one — especially on the second night of a back-to-back. This one wasn’t in doubt much past halfway through the second quarter, but Portland’s 15-3 run to close out the third quarter really slammed the door shut.
The Cavs had no answer for Damian Lillard, who finished with a game-high 32 points and nine assists in 31 minutes. Enes Kanter and Jusuf Nurkic were also too much for the Cavs in the post, combining for 33 points and 24 rebounds. With Kanter on the floor, Portland outscored the Cavs by 30 in just 21 minutes.
Conversely, and this may be the stat of the night, the Cavs were outscored by 45 points in Kevin Love’s 26 minutes (I had to refresh my box score three times because I thought this was an error). This isn’t the most all-encompassing stat around, and it’s one that’s difficult to take as is, but for a guy that has had a rough few weeks with the organization and recently said he wants to play for the Blazers, this is a horrendous look.
The story from this game is going to be that it’s the one where Anderson Varejao made his long-awaited return to Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse as a Cavalier for the first time since February of 2016 (ironically, it came against the team that the Cavs traded him to and then subsequently cut him).
Varejao checked in with a little more than six minutes left in the game and played out the finish. He knocked down a free throw and recorded six rebounds. Basically, he did everything that you would expect him to do at his age, which is essentially just try really hard.
The Cavs now have six games left on the schedule, and we very well may not see them win another game. This franchise feels like it’s in the darkest place that it’s been in for a long time.
As things stand, the Cavs are tied in the loss column with Oklahoma City, Orlando, and Minnesota with 45 losses. As dark as things are, the more losses to end the season may be for the best. It’s difficult to see this franchise turning things around anytime soon without some luck in the lottery, and every loss gets them a bit closer to that.