If I had told you on July 1, 2010 that the Cavaliers would set records in the 2010-2011 season, how excited would you have been? You would have been elated. Everyone would have assumed the Cavs were on pace with the ’95-’96 Chicago Bulls. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The Cavs are following a pace more closely resembling the ’72-’73 Philadelphia 76ers and their NBA worst record of 9-73.
With last night’s defeat at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks the Cavaliers have now lost 25 straight games. Wrap you mind around that… 25 games. The streak started on December 20th at home against Utah. It’s now February 8th. This steak has spanned 50 days. That’s just shy of two full months. They went the entire month of January without a victory. I didn’t know that was possible for a professional basketball team. The sad part is that it could be so much worse than what it is. Seven of their eight wins cam in the first month of the season. They’ve won one game since November 30. Had it not been for a December 18th victory over the New York Knicks, the Cavs would be in the midst of a 36 game losing streak. Instead they’ve lost 35 of the last 36.
It’s not exactly like the Cavaliers are catching bad breaks or on the short end of the stick with these losses either. Just take a look at the numbers over the past 25 games. The average score has been 108-94 and they are allowing opponents to shoot 48.2% during this stretch. As I’ve made mention before the issue here is defense and defense comes down to effort. That much can be seen just watching the Cavs. The eye test tells you that they aren’t hustling to get through screens, they aren’t closing out to shooters, and they’re missing their rotations. All of that is easily correctable.
What isn’t easily correctable is the lack of talent on this team and that goes beyond the absence of Lebron James. Since last year the Cavs have also lost Shaq, Z, and Delonte West to other teams and Anderson Varejao and Mo Williams to a broken foot and broken heart respectively. When you’re running out a starting lineup that contains two or three players who should be in the D-League and a 6’9″ center you’re going to have issues.
While yes, this whole entire situation sucks, it could be worse. The Cavs could be winning. Allow me to explain myself before you start chucking empty beer bottles at me.
The worst position to be in the NBA is continuously mediocre. In other words, a team that doesn’t have enough talent to get into the upper tier of teams, but at the same time isn’t lacking so much talent that they guarantee themselves a top 3 lottery pick. Teams that constantly find themselves in this position would be the Pacers, Pistons, Rockets, and up until the past year or two, the Raptors and the Wizards. These teams usually find themselves as the 6, 7, or 8 seeds or get stuck with the 10th pick in the draft. Like I said, not enough talent, but at the same time there’s too much talent.
Than Cavs are in the perfect spot.
By continuing on the path they are on they will all but guarantee themselves one of the top four picks in the draft and more than likely on of the top two. So yes, while it sucks that the Cavs seem to be on a mission to redefine the word loser, this is very much necessary. The biggest issue right now is there is no go to guy, no playmaker. Securing the best chance to have the #1 overall pick is a step in the right direction towards getting that player.
Meanwhile, until the draft actually gets here everyone just needs to be patient. The Cavs are not going to lose every game for the remainder of the year. They are not going to finish the season 8-74. They’ll probably settle somewhere around 15 wins. So everyone needs to relax. This team is bad. It is not historically bad.
The past few games should prove to everyone that the Cavs are figuring it out. They aren’t getting blown out by 20+ points. They’ve been damn close to ending this stupid streak and ending the misery associated with it. Yes, it’ll make breaking news on ESPN and with it bring even more mockery, but so what. There is a much bigger picture to focus on and I think everyone in the Cavs front office understands that.
So everyone relax. This isn’t the end of the world. It’s just another valley on the trip to the top of the championship mountain.