On Monday night, the Cavs lost to Minnesota 127-99. That’ll happen. Even to really good teams. You’re on the road, a few bad bounces, your shots aren’t falling, and everything your opponent does works. It happens. It happens to us all. But then you usually bounce back in the next game and smash your opponent.
Fast-forward to last night’s Cavs-Raptors game and then fast-forward to the end. Toronto 133, Cleveland 99. Let me repeat that again. Toronto 133, Cleveland 99.
It’s as if the Cavs looked at that 127-99 loss and thought, we can do worse. 28-point loss? Child, please. We can lose by more than that. Sure, we looked terrible on Monday night, but if we buckle down and handle our business, we can look so much worse on Thursday night. And they did. Because they looked truly terrible. It almost looked like the tanking Sixers or the Phil Jackson Knicks in disguise. Did the Maurice Taylor Clippers somehow reunite in Cavs gear last night?
Toronto absolutely carved them up. Killing it from deep and getting to the basket with ease. I haven’t seen Raptors causing that much panic since things went haywire for Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum. HEY-OOOOOOOOOOOOO.
And of course the most viral moment from the game was LeBron going off in the huddle in the second quarter. He just took over, yelling, gesturing and throwing everything he had at it. And it all went back to the play before the timeout, where Kevin Love got left for dead and an easy Toronto dunk. LeBron was reportedly ripping into Love on the way to the bench, assistant coach Phil Handy started to talk, and LeBron was having none of it.
LeBron said afterwards that they were: “Just us trying to figure it out. It’s not for everybody. We came in here and talked about it, and that’s what happens at times. Family’s not always about a bed of roses.”
No it’s not always a bed of roses and that sure looked like a pile of horse crap. Honestly, it doesn’t matter whether LeBron was yelling at Handy or Love, he should’ve been yelling at everyone who collects a check from the Cavs organization who felt his wrath, because that wasn’t a game that was a humiliation. That looked like one of those elementary school games where the parents take on the kids…. if the parents were NBA players and the kids were, well, kids.
I have absolutely no problem with LeBron going off in the huddle the way that he did. In fact, I respect it. Because it shows that he’s not mailing in a Thursday night mid-season game. It would’ve been a lot easier to just say, yeah, bad night, but it’s January. We’ve been to the finals three straight years, we’ll flip the switch when it matters. Relax we’ll all be fine.
The truth is, it is a long season and teams are going to lay an egg every now and then… but it doesn’t happen twice in less than a week. And a 34 point beatdown on the back end doesn’t happen when the team laying it, is missing two key starters like the Raptors were. Kyle Lowry was out with an injury and Serge Ibaka was suspended. If those two guys had been able to play, they would’ve had to call the game at halftime. But the fact that Lowry wasn’t there just meant more opportunities for Fred Van Vleet, and FVV was h-o-t, six of eight from three as part of a career-high 22 points.
I know, I know, Cavs fans. This is just how these guys are. And we’ve seen it before. They coast in the regular season, saving it for when it really matters, then they throw the switch. Ehhhhh! We have seen that before. But that’s not what this is. That’s a team that hasn’t just lost 6 of 8, that’s a team that’s not just losing but getting embarrassed, humiliated and not even bothering to get off the bus. That’s a team with a bunch of dudes that have their own agendas. Not my words, but coach Ty Lue’s: “We’ve got to be better. We know that. But until we play better defensively, I think offensively sharing the basketball, everyone on the same page — and if guys have agendas, we’ve got to get rid of our agendas and play the right way.”
Agendas?!? What does that mean? When asked what he meant, Lue said, “just what I said.” Which is kind of awkward because both Kevin Love and LeBron were asked about agendas after the game and neither one knew what he was talking about. But I do. By agendas, he means some of these guys just don’t give a damn. They want to get theirs and they don’t want to do any of the dirty work; that’s pretty apparent in the way they’re getting abused defensively and on the boards every single night. I’m not saying it’s every single one of them, I’m saying enough of them who matter, don’t give a damn: that’s how you get abused by 34 by an undermanned Toronto team. That’s how you fall behind by more than 40 in the same week against Minnesota. Because dudes just don’t give a damn. About anything other than their own agenda. And believe this, despite what he said, LeBron knows exactly what Lue means when he says that; that’s why LeBron lit to everyone in the huddle. And why he also said, you can’t just throw the switch and how you’re playing going into the playoffs does matter.
I’m not here to throw dirt on these guys yet. And to have my man Lee Jenkins sharpening his pencil to coin another of LeBron’s letters…. or my Jim Gray to send the production crew over to LeBron’s house for the sequel to the decision. They’re not dead. And he’s not gone. But if they continue to defend like this, freak out any time they’re anywhere near the glass, or just keep napping it on the floor, he’ll bounce.
And by the way, Cleveland, you know he’s going to anyway. He did what he set out to do when he went back. And now he has some unfinished business. And it says here… It won’t be there. Hopefully, between now and then, the Cavs won’t doing anything to embarrass themselves further. Because right now they are a straight embarrassment.