Sports

Broken Dreams

Chad W. Lutz
We're 10 games into the 2012-2013 campaign, and if you're a Cavaliers fan it hasn't been pretty. Following a convincing opening night victory over the still-winless Washington Wizards, the Cleveland Cavaliers have dropped 8 of 9 contests leading to an abysmal 2-8 record through the first dime of the season. Highlighted by embarrassing losses to Chicago on November 2 and Phoenix on November 9, the Cleveland Cavaliers season outlook looks bleak, at best.

To add injury to insult, the Cavs will now be without their star point guard for four weeks. On November 17 in a game at home against Dallas, Kyrie Irving suffered a broken finger during the 3rd quarter. He went in for an MRI and X-Rays at the Cleveland Clinic following a sub-par performance against Philadelphia on Sunday, an anti-climactic ode to our rotting pine, which resulted in an 86-79 loss.
Asked about his injury, the young point guard admitted: "I just knew it wasn't a jammed finger. I've jammed almost every finger on my hand, so I just knew when it turned black and blue. I just thought it was a bad sprain, but it turned out to be broken." After sustaining the injury on Saturday, Irving and the Cavaliers cleared him for play Sunday. Kyrie shot 4-14 from the field on Sunday night and only tallied 9 points and 4 assists in 37 minutes.
Kyrie Irving's vantage point from the next four weeks (www.jbsmooth84.com)
During the contest, Alonzo Gee led all scorers with 17 points. Anderson Varejao continued to be Anderson Varejao and grabbed 15 boards with 14 points on 5-12 shooting. Tristan Thompson added 14 points and 13 rebounds. Dion Waiters scored a season-low 5 points on 2-13 shooting in 31 minutes. Throughout the entire game, the Cavs were within striking distance, and even held a lead as large as 5 points in the second quarter, but the 76ers dominated the second half and stymied a late charge to give Cleveland its 6th straight loss.

The Cavaliers injury report also includes Daniel Gibson and Tristan Thompson. Gibson suffered a contusion of the right elbow also against Dallas on Saturday night at The Q. Tristan Thompson's injury, a nasal fracture, occurred Sunday night in Philadelphia during the second quarter. Daniel Gibson was cleared to play by the Cleveland Clinic on Monday, November 19, but sat out the entire game in Philadelphia. Tristan Thompson will be fitted with a protective mask which he will wear while his injury heals and will be available to play in Wednesday night's rematch with the 76ers.

Heading into action Sunday night in Philly, the Cavaliers backcourt duo of Dion Waiters and Kyrie Irving averaged a league leading 39ppg combined. Anderson Varejao continues to have a breakout season offensively and is playing the best defensive basketball he has his entire career averaging 13.1rpg, good for second in the NBA. Also on Sunday, Tristan Thompson recorded his 4th double-double of the season and averages 8.5rpg and 9.7ppg. Alonzo Gee ranks among the lead leaders in steals-per-contest and averages 11.8ppg. With a starting lineup like this, many Cavs fans, and coaches (hopefully) wonder what's going wrong. At one point last year the Cavalier's record stood at 14-17. On the pace they're headed this year, we'll be lucky if we get to 14 wins all season. As a coach stressing defensive intensity, Byron Scott's Cavaliers rank dead last in the NBA in opponent field goal percentage (50.3%pg), assists allowed (26.4pg) and have their weak stuff blocked out of there nearly 9 times (8.4bpg) per contest. The Cavaliers also rank second-worst in points given up per game (102.7) while averaging only 95.7ppg as a team.

While it's still early in the season, the absence of Kyrie and the non-existent bench and defense should have the Cavalier's concerned, if not pounding the panic button. The Cavaliers play close to 20 games over the next four weeks, the same four they will be without the services of their ace-in-the-whole. With a record already looking like the bottom of an ungreased restaurant pan, fast forward four weeks and we could see something ready for the garbage. A quick winning streak could turn all of that around, and the Cavaliers offensive potential makes them a contender in any game, so it's truly too soon to tell if the Wine and Gold are down and out for the count. However, the defending World Champion Miami Heat hosts the Cavs on Saturday, followed by a trip to Memphis to take on the hungry Grizzlies team. Let's hope the team's hopes aren't as broken as Kyrie's finger.