CLEVELAND: For all that the Cavaliers endured this season, Mike Brown didn’t want the final impression of this team to be the way they gave up over the last week after they were officially eliminated from postseason contention.
This team endured too much and fought back to play well for two months to go out as quitters. So he treated the last couple days of practice, Wednesday’s final morning shootaround and all of the recent film sessions as he normally would. He played his starters typical minutes and the Cavs beat a stripped-down Brooklyn Nets club 114-85 Wednesday, equaling their biggest blowout win of the season.
Ultimately it won’t matter much, other than avoiding another 50-loss season. The Cavs finished with the ninth-worst record in the league and therefore enter the lottery with a 1.7 percent chance at the No. 1 pick.
The Nets rested all of their starters in preparation for the playoffs, but given the lack of effort in recent losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, the Cavs needed a strong performance regardless of the opponent entering what could be a wild summer.
The first decisions will be what to do with Brown and acting General Manager David Griffin. Team owner Dan Gilbert was not at Wednesday’s finale because he’s attending the league’s Board of Governors meetings in New York. A decision on the fate of Brown and Griffin isn’t expected for at least a few days, if not longer. Brown has never been one to campaign the owner for a job and he isn’t about to start now.
“We haven’t talked much about it,” Brown said. “At the end of the season we'll sit down and talk more about it. With all the changes, there's probably going to be a lot of questions he has.”
Tyler Zeller had 22 points (one shy of his career high) and 11 rebounds off the bench, Dion Waiters scored 19 points, Kyrie Irving had 15 points and five assists and Tristan Thompson had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
Anthony Bennett and Carrick Felix both returned from lengthy injuries to play in the finale. Bennett had seven points and seven rebounds after missing the last 17 games with a knee injury, while Felix missed the last 37 games following a stress fracture in his left knee.
Felix’s rookie season was wrecked with injuries since he also battled a sports hernia, but he had a career-high 10 points after playing most of the fourth quarter Wednesday.
Luol Deng and C.J. Miles again missed the game with injuries, while Anderson Varejao didn’t play, either, after battling a sore back the last few weeks.