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Cleveland Cavaliers 2012-2013 Wrap-Up

Chad W. Lutz
Christmas came early for the Cavaliers, or at least that's how I'm going to look at it. Midday Thursday the Cleveland head office announced the formal "release" of Coach Byron Scott after three years with the organization. During those three seasons, Scott's Cavaliers boasted an impressive record, won three NBA championships, produced three consecutive MVPs and set single season records left and…

Sorry, I fell down and hit my head. What was I saying? My head hurts.
We feel your pain, Tristan; watching that 10-game losing streak hurt just about as bad.
The reality of the 2012-2013 campaign came to a limping, whimpering and utterly anti-climactic end in Charlotte last Wednesday night. After losing 15 of 17 previous contests, including a 5-game skid heading into the final game of the season, the Wine and Gold stood fairly good chances to end the season on a high note and put away the Bobcats on the road. But Charlotte jumped out to an early lead on 72% shooting in the first quarter and only faltered momentarily in the 4th quarter when the Cavaliers took their only lead of the game early in the period. Charlotte would end the game on a 7-0 run, ultimately dashing the Cavs hopes for a positive end to the season.

Maybe I should have just stayed down.

The theme of too little, too late appears to be the overall mantra ringing from the rafters of the Q this season. With a brief exception of play during January and February, the Cleveland Cavaliers only ever flirted with success throughout the year, instead of taking it out for a nice seafood dinner proper. The season began in a stumble and ended in an all-out face plant. The Cavs basically performed a disappearing act in the month of March losing 12 of 14 games. Cleveland showed a little fight left in them when they beat Boston and Orlando back-to-back earlier this month, but it wasn’t enough to avoid an abysmal 6-game slide to end the season. Overall, Kyrie and Co. lost 16 of their last 18 games, including the season finale against a very beatable Charlotte ball club. Turns out we were the beatable.
Does anyone have any aspirin?

All season long there appeared to be a disconnect between drive and in-game play, realistic health expectations and unexpected injury and effective rotations on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball. We watched Kyrie Irving blossom further into a force to reckon with but not even play 60 games due to injuries. Anderson Varejao made it only 25 games into the 2012 – 2013 campaign before he was forced to bow out with a rip in his quad and an eventual clot in his lung due to complications from surgery. Dion Waiters was also limited by injury throughout the season and tallied only 61 appearances in 82 games. The only two starters/players who made an appearance in every Cavaliers regular season game were Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson. Granted it’s hard to establish effective rotations when half of your starters are sidelined, but it wasn’t just one factor that held the Wine and Gold down this season. Poor late-game defense, not taking care of the basketball on offense, injuries, and motivational issues all played culprit this year, and probably some I forgot to mention.
Breathe. Just breathe. (www.sbnation.com)
But here’s the silver lining; it’s over. The season is no more. But a speck in the rear-view obscured by our trailing dust, the eventual battery power down of an overly annoying toy. And there were some positives, despite a third-to-last place finish and 24-58 record. In what proved to be one of the most excruciating seasons to watch in the history of the NBA for any team in 2010-2011, the Cavaliers improved the next year winning two more games than the season before. This year the Cavs put together their first 3-game win streaks since the second week of the 2010-2011 season and finished with 3 more wins than last season. While they may not be leaps or bounds, even smaller, baby steps can lead to great things. You’ve got to start somewhere.

Now I’m feeling a little better.

And the Cavaliers did just that. It appears they have their starting 5 solidified and may only need to shop around for a couple of role players to come off the bench late in the game. Third quarters woes, an all-too common plague for the Cavs over the last decade, continued to infect the otherwise potent offense of the Wine and Gold. Anderson Varejao healthy and a committed and healthy Kyrie Irving, there’s no telling what the Cavs may be able to accomplish next year. Eventually the Cavaliers will have to part ways with Varejao, whose age might begin to play a factor either this upcoming season or next. And perhaps it has already. Regardless, Tyler Zeller’s role on the team may receive an upgrade next year. The young center showed flashes of brilliance, but still seemed a little lost on the court at times. The same can be said for Dion Waiters, although Dion’s play was most notably highlighted by his heart and drive every time he had possession of the ball. If Waiters can improve his shooting accuracy in the off season and work to pass the ball more effectively, there is no doubt he and Kyrie Irving will be next year’s best backcourt duo.

Who’s next!?

So, here’s to another season of NBA basketball. Here’s to another season of Wine and Gold triumph and tragedy. Remember when Andy pulled down 23 rebounds on opening night? Remember when Kyrie scored 41 as the Dark Knight or when young Uncle Drew sunk a game winner in Toronto at the buzzer? How about the game where Andy and Kyrie littered the box score with 35, 18, 3 and 34, 4, 8 performances? Believeland, it was a magical ride. And despite coming out more scathed than not, there was still many a memory to go around. Keep the faith, Cleveland. There IS always next year.

No affect on the human spirit.