Latest posts by Sam Amico (see all)
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CLEVELAND — Random dribbles from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ shameful 148-124 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday afternoon.
1. A lot can be said and written and analyzed about the basketball disaster the Cavs are today. But no matter how you spin it, the bottom line is it just doesn’t make much sense.
2. This is a team with LeBron James, Kevin Love (when not sick) and a recovering and seemingly an improving Isaiah Thomas. This also a team with loads of veterans. Yet offensively, the Cavs aren’t nearly as sharp as you would expect.
4. And I write that after the Cavs scored 124 points and shot 52 percent from the field.
5. Still, the Cavs don’t really put a ton of pressure on opposing defenses. Lately, they don’t really move the ball all that well. They settle for too many 3-pointers. They throw lazy passes and spend a lot of time resorting to one-on-one.
6. They often look slow, out of sync and occasionally downright befuddled. And that’s just the offense.
7. Defensively, well that’s a whole different nightmare. The Cavs like to pretend it’s all about effort. It’s true that the issues sometimes result from a lack of determination. Teams at this level just don’t give up 148 points at home if they care.
8. Last time the Cavs gave up 148? How about Jan. 2, 1972 against the Philadelphia 76ers. That was their second season as a franchise. That team finished 23-59, and this team resembles a 20-something-win team today.
9. Anyway, say what you will be effort — this also has lots to do with personnel. Nobody on this roster is a true protector of the paint. Nobody can lock anyone down on the perimeter. Instead, the Cavs allow opposing guards to drive past them with the greatest of ease. After that happens, wide-open 3-pointers or dunks and layups result.
10. Translation: Good defense starts out top, and that is especially imperative when you have no one to defend at the hoop.
11. As for this game, well, it truly was nothing more than 48 minutes of garbage time. Thunder stars Paul George (36 points), Carmelo Anthony (29 points) and Russell Westbrook (23 points, a whopping 20 assists) did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted. The Cavs showed zero resistance — and that’s been a huge reason for the recent collapse.
12. Meanwhile, Thomas finished with 24 points and LeBron managed an uninspiring 18 — meaning he is still seven shy of joining the 30,000 club that everyone was talking about before the game.
13. Love, of course, was sick and managed to play just three minutes before departing for good. Perhaps he knew what was coming.
14. Anyway, back to the defense. When asked whether it’s effort of personnel, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue sort of hinted it’s more about personnel — though he didn’t give a firm response. “I think it’s tough for us one-on-one (to defend),” he said.
15. Lue added, “Look at the final score — you score 124 and still lose by 24, that’s tough to swallow.”
16. Given all that, is Lue considering lineup changes? “Not yet,” he said. ‘We gotta look at the film tomorrow.”
17. So it all can only mean that general manager Koby Altman and his team must rebuild around James. Other than LeBron, no one should be considered untouchable — and apparently, no one is.
18. As you’ve surely read by now, the Cavs are exploring a variety of deals. One apparently involves the Los Angeles Clippers and big center DeAndre Jordan (more details here). Another the Sacramento Kings and guard George Hill (more details here).
19. Expect to hear and read many more names linked to the Cavs (27-18) before the Feb. 8 trade deadline, as they very clearly need all the help they can get.
20. This isn’t a team that should be OK with the fact it’s only January. This isn’t a team that should think it can just flip on a switch and get back to The Finals. Right now, it is not that kind of team, and Saturday’s loss was just another disheartening example.