- Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers (28-44) at Detroit Pistons (26-44)
- Date: March 26, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Cleveland Cavaliers are dysfunctional.
The Cavs made moves during the offseason with the hope of finally making it back to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James uttered the words “South Beach” on national television. That goal is still mathematically alive, but the odds aren’t in Cleveland’s favor.
The Cavaliers have to overtake the New York Knicks (ninth seed) and Atlanta Hawks (eighth seed) to make it into the postseason. Atlanta has six less losses, and it will be extremely difficult for Cleveland to catch them.
When we present these facts without context, it seems to line up with the direction the franchise has taken for the most part since the 2010 summer. However, the 2013-14 season has been particularly awful, even by Cleveland’s standards.
The Cavs started things out by selecting Anthony Bennett in the 2013 draft. Although it’s far too early to call him a bust, Bennett has struggled in his rookie season as evidenced by his averages of 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on 35.2 percent field-goal shooting.
What’s more, the pairing of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters has been a failure.
The tandem has exhibited little chemistry over the course of the season (they have instances where they keep the ball away from each other), and it all culminated into a players meeting that hurt more than it helped per ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard (Insider).
And yet, the front office surpassed itself by signing Andrew Bynum, thinking he would help them get to one of the last postseason spots. Instead, the move failed, and in effort to get rid of his non-guaranteed contract, Cleveland traded Bynum to the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng.
Deng left a franchise with a strong sense of direction and commitment to winning, for one that appeared to be clueless in every important facet that helps produce a successful ball club.
As a result, Deng was unhappy about being traded to Cleveland according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:
Deng has seen how a team mired in losing since LeBron James left town wrongly caters to its young star players, even as they continue to undermine head coach Mike Brown at almost every turn. In Chicago, where Deng broke in and played nine-plus seasons, there is a winning culture where players are expected to act like professionals and understand that they will suffer the consequences if they step out of line.
The addition of Deng did little for the Cavs, so they made a trade to acquire Spencer Hawes. Yet and still, the Cavs look nothing like a playoff team. Irving is currently sidelined because of a biceps injury, and the team has looked incredibly flawed in his absence (as opposed to “just flawed”).
Cleveland owns a bottom-third offense because the players do not believe in sharing. The Cavs have a tendency to shoot the ball after the first pass. When that fails, the one bringing up the ball simply fires up a field goal whenever he is good and ready.
In related news, the Cavs are 23rd in assists per game. Even Deng has been contaminated. He has embraced the idea of occasionally taking ill-advised shots after spending some time alongside Waiters.
There is no easy way to say this: The Cavs have selfish tendencies and are tough to watch at times. The right play is often replaced by an incomprehensible decision, and that’s been Cleveland’s season in a nutshell.
Way to sell tonight’s game versus the Detroit Pistons huh?