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Cavaliers 50-game Recap

Chad W. Lutz
Did anyone catch the number on the truck that just ran through the Cavaliers’ season? Holy moly, Cleveland, what the heck happened? At the halfway mark we’re sitting a mere 10 games under .500 and coming off of our best road outing in nearly four years. We completed arguably one of our best trades (on paper) in the last decade and were firing on all cylinders offensively and defensively. That was then, apparently.

Right now, every five that sets foot on the floor in Wine and Gold looks like special teams, and that’s not a football pun. Winnable games, like the January 26 contest against Phoenix in which the good guys were up by 18 at the half end up as tally marks in the loss column. The Lakers, who have struggled equally as hard this season without the aids of Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash, come into town with young and gun squads and embarrass us on our home turf. The 2013 Cavaliers may not have been the best squad to ever lace up and play the game, but this 2014 crew is downright ridiculous, if not frustratingly disappointing.

After winning five of nine spanning January 2 through January 17, the Cleveland Cavaliers took a nosedive harder than kamikaze pilots, and with much the same result. After the smoke cleared from the fiery wreckage that proved the last ten games, Cleveland had only an abysmal 2-8 record to show and an average point differential in double digits (10.9).

To make matters worse, play on the court isn’t the only thing confusing. The Cavs fired GM Chris Grant February 6 after the home loss to the Lakers the day before, a game that featured a halftime score 70-49, all Lake-Show. Kyrie Irving was benched late in the second half against Los Angeles for reported lack of effort. He finished with only 11 points and shot 5-14 overall. Ex-Cavalier Andrew Bynum even made headlines recently, inking a deal with the Central Division leading Indiana Pacers for the remainder of the season. Many analysts claim the big man’s presence may give the Pacers the edge come playoff time against teams like Chicago and Miami. As a Cavalier loyal, I wouldn’t be too quick to pull the rabbit from the hat. This is the same Andrew Bynum who stated only a few short weeks ago that he had completely lost interest in basketball. Playing for a winning team might turn things around for the young center, but only time will tell.
Anthony Bennett does...something against the Lakers in a home loss February 5, 2014
Despite the adversity the Cavs have run into (like a damned brick wall) this season Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters continue to shine. Ironically, reports claim the two are anything but buddies off the court, but their chemistry on the court and abilities to score at will make them still one of the game’s most potent backcourt duos. On the season, Waiters and Irving combine to average 35.7ppg, with Dion coming exclusively off the bench. Tyler Zeller continues to show improvements, as well.

It seems as though Mike Brown is still toying with the lineup. Strange, considering we’re already 50 games into the 2013-2014 campaign, but with the lack of consistency from his players this year can you really blame him? That could still be all on him, but there are times when certain Cavaliers have been hot, and then times where those Cavaliers can’t seem to hit the broad side of a barn, with a pass or a shot. I think it may still be far too soon to land all of the blame squarely on Mike Brown’s shoulders just yet, but the Wine and Gold cannot suffer another long losing streak like the one spanning from middle-January through the early part of this month. The last playoff spot is still only six games out of reach. A couple of weeks of ball could change all of that, especially since the East has been about as bad as it’s ever been. And even if we don’t pull off a successful playoff push, we’ll still have some decent takeaways from the season if we play our cards right.

1.) Dan Gilbert might actually learn to shut his mouth instead of making bold claims he has no idea his personnel will ever actually be able to live up to. The exit of Andrew Bynum and Chris Grant and the appalling play of Anthony Bennett should help cement that life lesson.

2.) Just because we trade for someone doesn’t mean they’re going to instantly be starter material, i.e. allowing Andrew Bynum to start instead of arguably our best and most consistent player Anderson Varejao.

3.) We’re better than last year. That’s right, even through all of the losing we’ve experienced this year, the Cavs have a prime opportunity to build on their 24-58 record from a season ago. At 17-33 heading into this afternoon’s game again Memphis, the Cavaliers need only seven wins to match last year’s record and have 30 games to do it in.

4.) Kyrie Irving is the real deal. Now three years into his professional career, the college freshman who play only a dozen or so games at Duke before turning pro has established himself as one of the most entertaining performers, and vicious scorers, in the game.

5.) Cleveland fans are among the best in the game. Despite having one of the worst records in basketball, the Wine and Gold draw only about 50 less fans per game to Quicken Loans than the Pacers do to Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Cavs outdraw the Wizards, Nets, Pelicans, Suns, Timberwolves, and Hawks, among other ball clubs, as well. Only the Lakers, Celtics, and Jazz have worse or comparable records and draw more fans.