Cleveland Cavaliers: 3 things to watch during rest of season

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland shoots the ball. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland shoots the ball. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /
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Collin Sexton, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton drives. (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

So where do we go from here? The Cleveland Cavaliers had some realistic opportunities to stay close to the Chicago Bulls in the #10 spot in the NBA Eastern Conference race with a chance then to play in the “play-in tournament” to get to the NBA postseason.

That chance was unfortunately squandered by the Cavs as they lost to both the Bulls and the Detroit Pistons this past week. Now the Cavs stand at 20-37, four games back of the Bulls, with little hope to get that #10 spot. So how do the Cavs stay motivated and try to finish this season off on a high note?

I remember a basketball season, not too long away, where I was coaching a group of young players. It was a talented group of basketball players but the team was struggling to win toward the end of the season. I tried motivational speeches, different lineups and other things but nothing worked. As a coach it was very frustrating because you were trying to connect and motivate your team and you felt like you were failing the group.

I get a sense from Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff that he is frustrated with these young Cavs players after a week of games that could have gone much differently, if the team had played with more consistency.

When Bickerstaff said after the Pistons loss that “we’ve got to grow up”, via’s Chris Fedor (subscription required), it certainly shared an opinion that many of us have said while watching these kids play out the season.

As I shared before, these players are young and learning. With that, it is a year in which progress is measured differently, than a Cavaliers team that once had LeBron James and the only destination suitable for a King was the NBA Championship.

So again where do we go from here?

Well here, we’ll focus on three areas we should all be paying attention to find out what these young Cavaliers are made of.

The first is along the lines of moving forward.

#1: The Cavs’ response to adversity

So they’ve just lost to the Bulls and lowly Pistons, and with both teams without the likes of Zach LaVine and Jerami Grant, even. How this Cavs team responds against the Bulls again this week on Wednesday and then at the Charlotte Hornets is really a big unknown.

There was that stretch that the Cavs lost 10 games in a row back in February. But they followed that debacle with a mini four-game win streak. At the end of the Pistons loss there seemed to be a lot of body language that would suggest frustration and finger pointing at fellow teammates.

Is there a carry over to the next game or does coach Bickerstaff’s words of growing up light a fire under player’s butts and encourage them to give more effort and/or play with more urgency, especially defensively?

It’ll be interesting to see how the Cavaliers close out this month and enter May. With eight of nine games at home between April 28 and May 12, you would think that the home court would be a benefit to the team but the Cavs are 11-16 this season at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The problem with this stretch too is that seven of those home games are against plus-.500 teams, against the likes of the Phoenix Suns, Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics, for instance.

So, moving along, secondly, the assist splits come to mind as something to watch the rest of the way.