Random dribbles following the Cavaliers’ 103-74 embarrassment of a road loss to the San Antonio Spurs on Monday:
1. When it comes to the Cavs’ current state, it’s hard to know where to begin. Right now, most people around the team start with the following word: Frustrating.
2. The Cavs seem overmatched nearly every night. They look tired, maybe sick, maybe bored. They are a shell of the team that won the championship. Most nights lately, they can barely compete.
3. Even their own coach, Tyronn Lue, told reporters, “Teams just look so much faster than we are.”
4. Lue sort of laughed and shook his head. He just doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on. If that’s the case, the man is not alone.
5. LeBron James was fairly direct and solemn when speaking with the media in San Antonio. LeBron never panics and rarely worries. But he sure ain’t blowing this off. The Cavs have looked bad lately and seem to be getting worse. Not even the King of Cleveland Basketball can try to deny that.
6. The defense has been atrocious for most of the month, and based on Monday, the offense may have finally caught up. Kyrie Irving (eight points) played his worst game of the year. He at least stuck around to shoot some jumpers after. (Video)
7. Irving deserves a pass. He’s been brilliant all year. J.R. Smith, however, does not.
8. This isn’t all about Smith trying to play his way back from a broken thumb. It’s true he very well could be doing just that — but let’s not forget, he wasn’t exactly lighting it up prior to the injury. In fact, Smith’s ineffectiveness has been an issue all season. He doesn’t look like he belongs on the court, much less starting.
9. Kevin Love has been so-so offensively for a week and right up there with Smith when it comes to defense. And by “right up there,” I mean Love has been a major liability at that end since coming back from knee surgery.
10. It’s doubtful the Cavaliers (47-26) have suddenly forgotten how to play. And you don’t want to make too much of March. But they should thank the basketball gods that they have time to clean things up. My gosh, do they ever need it.
11. Lue to the media again: “I know our guys are tired. But 100 percent of the league is tired. … Now we’re gonna see what we’re made of. This tests your character right here.”
12. After stinking up the month, the Cavs are now a half game behind Boston for first place in the East. That April 5 game at the Celtics is looking bigger with each Cavs defeat.
13. Of course, after playing at Chicago on Thursday, the Cavs have three straight home games against a trio of basketball panhandlers. Those three teams? Philadelphia, Indiana and Orlando. The 76ers and Magic stink. The Pacers aren’t as bad, but we’re not talking Spurs and Golden State Warriors here.
14. In other words, the Cavs could have a game or two lead on the Celtics by the time next week arrives. Then again, if the Cavs keep playing like this, the Sixers and Magic may be tall tasks.
15. I rarely look at my Twitter timeline these days, and I check my notifications even less. (Sorry, but a wife and three kids override the idea of reading a bunch of strangers’ opinions on the NBA.) But if I did, my guess is I’m being asked, “Should I be worried about the Cavs?” And my answer would be the same as always — only start worrying if/when they trail a playoff series.
16. The biggest concern would be the continued decline of the role players: Smith, Iman Shumpert, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye and even Deron Williams have all been so-so. It’s hard to know if any of those guys are even in the game half the time. Lue has lots of pieces. He just needs to figure out how they fit together. He has time. Not much, but some.
17. Bottom line? We all know the Cavs can be better than this. On paper, they’re better than the team that won the title. But the way they’ve played lately is troubling. Part of it may be the result of a ridiculous schedule in March. Part of it may be that they’re not properly motivated for this time of year. Part of it may be that they’re just completely out of sorts and need a week or two to pull together. It’s likely all of the above. But that doesn’t make it any less frustrating for everyone who cares about this team.
18. Finally, James took a shot to the back but told reporters he is fine and will play Thursday vs. the Bulls. Also, in case you missed it, Kyle Korver (foot) is still out and Shumpert is day-to-day. (Story)