Thomas: Cavaliers’ annual swoon ‘unacceptable’

Isaiah Thomas of the Cavaliers asked the Celtics to not honor him with a tribute Feb. 11.

Isaiah Thomas has been a Cleveland Cavalier only since Aug. 22, when he was acquired from the Boston Celtics as part of the package received in exchange for four-time All-Star Kyrie Irving,

And while Thomas has but played three games since his return from a torn labrum in his right hip, he’s seen plenty… and he’s seen enough.

As in, enough of what has become an annual state of lethargy that seems to take over the Cavaliers at some point every season.

It’s in progress now, as Cleveland (26-15) has five of its last seven games, six of nine and nine of lost nine of 12 and stands third in the Eastern Conference standings headed into tonight’s game at Toronto (28-11), which sits second in the East, 2.5 games ahead of the Cavaliers.

Back to Thomas, though. After Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue sat his squad down Wednesday at practice and had it watch the first quarter of its embarrassing 127-99 loss at Minnesota on Monday night, the Cavaliers’ worst loss of the season.

Afterward, Thomas didn’t hold back.

“We just got to play harder,” he told reporters.

“You could just see it, he doesn’t even have to say anything,” Thomas said, referring to Lue. “Film doesn’t lie and we just gotta be more physical.

“I mean when guys seen it on film today, it was like, it was obvious. It’s definitely more of an effort thing.”

Ironically, last season, the Cavaliers were on a three-game skid heading into a Dec. 4 at Toronto. Being crushed in pretty much every aspect of defensive basketball, Lue sat his players down and showed them 80 video clips of each guy playing awful defense.

The lessons taught were learned, apparently, as the Cavaliers beat the Raptors the next night.

Cleveland has made a habit of these in-season struggles, having experienced them in each of the last three seasons, sometimes on more than one occasion. However, the Cavaliers have managed to get back to winning basketball on all of those occasions, earning three consecutive Eastern Conference championships en route to berths in The Finals.

Lue, for one, is hopeful the current tough stretch will not prove to be contagious the rest of the season.

“We got a lot of new guys so hopefully, they don’t know the old Cavs,” he said. “But it’s been a tough stretch for us.”

Starters Thomas and Jae Crowder, picked up as part of the same deal that brought Thomas to Cleveland, along with Dwyane Wade, Jeff Green, Cedi Osman, Jose Calderon, Derrick Rose and Ante Zizik (also part of the trade with Boston) are in their first seasons as Cavaliers.

However, as mentioned, Thomas has played but three games since returning to the court and Rose (sprained ankle, bone spurs) has played only seven. Meanwhile, Crowder has been very inconsistent in his play through the first half of the season.

Having not played since the debacle Monday night in Minneapolis, the Cavaliers invade Air Canada Centre tonight to take on a Raptors squad that will be without its starting point guard Kyle Lowry (bruised tailbone) and power forward Serge Ibaka (1-game suspension for exchanging punches with James Johnson of Miami during game Tuesday night in Toronto). On top of that, Toronto will be playing its third game in four nights.

Thomas isn’t buying he and and his teammates simply accepting their recent downturn as status quo.

“I’ve only played three games,” he said. “I can’t say I’ve slipped into that. I’m not the type of player or person to do that.

“I’m still trying to get back in the thick of things, getting my rhythm, get everything back for me individually. But at the same time as a leader, we can’t have lulls.”

Crowder was even more succinct in his assessment.

“Play harder,” he said. “From top to bottom, just play harder.”

Thomas is steadfast in his belief things are about to change.

“I know everybody says, ‘Well, this happens to this team and they’ve been to three straight Finals.’ But that’s not acceptable,” the 5-foot-9, left-handed point guard, said. “I’m going to do my part to show these guys it’s not acceptable and we’ll go from there.”

2 Comments on "Thomas: Cavaliers’ annual swoon ‘unacceptable’"

  1. If a certain system (Boston) makes players so much better, why wouldnt you adopt that system to your team? Kyrie is not wrong in all his criticisms of Lebron and Lue. Lebron rarely plays hard all game. A more pass friendly offense gets guys more involved and helps them feel a part and this helps their defensive effort. Calderon got people involved and so ‘team’ was better. Put Crowder on a passing ‘team’ like Spurs and I bet he would go back to being what he was the last couple years.

  2. Agree with the above. I really feel bad for Crowder & Thomas coming over here from Boston with one of the leagues best coaches. The Cavs don’t practice, heck it looks like they don’t even run plays. They play pick up playground basketball and they follow LeBron’s laid back approach. It is also a poor way to introduce Cedi & Zizic into the NBA. Does anybody even bother to call out LeBron and his lack of effort in the film room? It has become very obvious who runs this team and it is sad.

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