The Cleveland Cavaliers extended their losing streak to nine games after a 107-98 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday night at Bradley Center. The Bucks have now successfully swept the Cavaliers this season in four games and have won the last seven meetings between the two teams.
Despite the Cavaliers even scoring distribution among the starters, the Cavaliers could not muster a late-game run to pull ahead of the Bucks. It looked as if the Cavaliers were going to pull within a single-digit deficit, but the relentless Bucks did not hold up and finished the Cavaliers. Cleveland was also relentless too, shooting the ball 95 times, but only connecting on 39 shots.
What I liked about the Cavaliers shot selection in this particular game was how even it was. All five of Cleveland starters shot the ball at least ten times. That starting lineup included Antawn Jamison (6-17), Alonzo Gee (4-13), Tristan Thompson (6-11), Anthony Parker (11-14) and Donald Sloan (5-12). Even though Jamison, Gee and Sloan did not shoot as well as head coach Byron Scott wanted, I like what the Cavaliers did on offense Wednesday night. You are not going to make shots unless you take shots and I think this is the perfect opportunity for young players like Sloan and Gee to develop a certain shot for themselves. With the Cavaliers out of playoff contention, now is the time for experimentation.
However, one thing the Cavaliers can work on is limiting the amount of shots that their opponents take. Monta Ellis, who dominated the Cavaliers defense with 30 points and 8 assists, took 25 shots on Wednesday. Compared to the team’s total of 84, Ellis took nearly 30 percent of his team’s shots. With the Cavaliers lack of star power due to Kyrie Irving’s absence Cleveland has to find a way to limit key players on the opposing team from getting a lot of shots off.
Anyways, something was different about this game from the other games that the Cavaliers have played during this long losing streak. They did not look as defeated during timeouts as they have during this grueling 9-game stretch. They clawed back into the game, but time ran out before the Cavaliers had a chance to make the game interesting. These players care, but what has happened over the past two seasons compared to the last five or six years is a total shock to the team and fans.
Obviously the Cavaliers are a far worse team without LeBron James, but Irving has provided fans with a lot to look forward to. Rebuilding is a frustrating time in sports for both the management and the fans. Rest assured the Cavaliers are making the right moves and in a few years they will be back in playoff contention. Some rising Cavalier stars, Sloan, Gee and Thompson, showed promise on Wednesday night. They are ready to be contributing parts to future Cavalier teams.
The Cavaliers have the day off Thursday, but will be back in action on Friday in Canada against the Toronto Raptors. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Air Canada Centre.