Kyrie Irving threw an arrant pass to no one in front of the Cavaliers bench. Two Cleveland players had stood in between the middle of Irving’s pass in the third quarter and just stared at each other confused. Irving didn’t say anything, but he looked like he was about to scream at his teammates. That’s what kind of night the Cleveland Cavaliers had on Tuesday night.
The Cavs (17-30) made the trip to Philadelphia to take on the 76ers, a trip that they will soon want to forget. The 76ers (28-22), who may just have the best defense in the NBA, shut the Wine and Gold down on offense, holding them to less than their season average of 87.6 points in a 103-85 humiliation of Cleveland.
The Wells Fargo Center was cheering because the 76ers had eclipsed the 100-point mark, which means every fan in attendance would receive a free coupon for a Big Mac. And they deserve those Big Macs. The 76ers fought hard on boy ends of the court all night long, playing well enough to earn their fans the most popular McDonald’s sandwich.
Want to have another indication of how badly the Cavaliers played tonight? Anthony Parker was the team’s leading scorer with 14 points. Parker, who has been on a cold shooting streak ever since coming back from his injury, being the biggest contributor offensively is a bad indication of good team performance.
You have to hand it to the 76ers. They played one of the best games of their season against a not-totally-helpless Cavaliers team. It was impressive, even against a 17-win team. The Cavaliers now find themselves in the midst of a four-game or more losing streak for the third time this season. A team that looked like it could compete for a playoff spot early in the season is now looking like a bottom-of-the-barrel team. The bench doesn’t even seem recognizable anymore. With Anderson Varejao and Daniel Gibson out with injuries and with the departures of Ramon Sessions, Christian Eyenga and Ryan Hollins, the Cavs bench is playing horribly the last few games.
Tonight Luke Walton, Omri Casspi, Donald Sloan, Manny Harris and Samardo Samuels all saw some time off the bench. I bet no one could have picked that group of players out as being the Cavaliers bench at any point in the 2011-12 NBA season. It’s obvious that Cleveland has gone into rebuilding mode and that the losses will only get more painful from here on out. With Gibson most likely out for the rest of the season, Harris and Sloan will be fighting for a spot on the roster. Harris has shown promise off the bench, but all the other players stand no chance against other bench players in the Association.
The bottom line is, bonehead moves like the one I mentioned in the opening paragraph cannot and will not be tolerated by coach Byron Scott the rest of the season. I don’t care if Luke Walton is starting for the Cavs, there is no excuse for some of the mistakes, especially on defense, that Cleveland is making. They can’t even play perimeter defense without allowing 54 points in the paint. Only putting up 24 down low isn’t going to cut it any night.
The Cavaliers need to buckle down the rest of the season because fans aren’t going to tolerate their losing ways for much longer. If the Cavaliers organization is in the rebuilding process, then they just need to come out and say it. If not, then let’s see what we can do with the rest of the season.
The Cavaliers will face off against the Detroit Pistons at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night at 7:00.
Do you think the Cavaliers can get back on the right track and eek out a win against the Pistons, or are the Wine and Gold just in rebuilding mode?