The Cavs have played six games in eight nights with another one coming up tonight. They were down three starters. Their leading scorer was having a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.
Still, they can’t fall behind to the Detroit Pistons 100-50 after three quarters.
Kyrie Irving is out, Anderson Varejao is out and Alonzo Gee was a late scratch with a sprained ankle. The bench was down to four healthy bodies, Lester Hudson has used up about 14 ½ of his 15 minutes and Antawn Jamison couldn’t hit a bull’s butt with a cup of rice tonight.
To his credit, Jamison owned up to his awful performance. He was 0 of 10 from the floor, was outmuscled for a rebound by a guy half his size (Will Bynum) and he just didn’t have the type of energy he’s accustomed to bringing every game. But at least he admitted it. “I can ill-afford to come out and compete the way I did,” Jamison said. “Not just offensively, but communicating with my teammates, mental mistakes… I still have to realize I have to bring it every night until the season is over. Tonight I didn’t bring it and it seems like it trickled down to the rest of my teammates.”
I started to ask Jamison if, after such a brutal season and a miserable stretch in the schedule, guys are starting to clock out before their shift is over. I didn’t even get the whole question out when Jamison said no. “I think it’s going to be the opposite,” he said. “The closer we get to the end of the season, I think you’re going to see us really competing at a high level.”
That’s exactly what happened last season. After enduring that miserable 26-game losing streak, the Cavs won their last two games and four of their last six. Ultimately it moved them ahead of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the standings and gave the Wolves the league’s worst record.
The Cavs’ starting frontcourt tonight shot 9 of 35. That sounds pretty bad, but it’s not as bad as the fact all five starters had a plus/minus rating of at least minus-38. Jamison’s minus-47 is the worst this season. Donald Sloan is fortunate for that, because he finished with a minus-46.
I’ve been against Irving returning this season ever since he had the setback with the shoulder. I maintain he shouldn’t come back, particularly with this patchwork unit. Much of Irving’s game is predicated on getting to the basket, meaning he will be exposed to taking some poundings from some really good teams if he returns.
The next four opponents on the schedule are all likely headed to the playoffs. Not coincidentally, they have some bigs who can dole out some punishment to guards coming in the lane. With so little help around him, Irving will likely have the attitude that he has to do it himself. What it creates is a situation similar to a franchise quarterback getting thrown into a game with no offensive line. I understand Irving wants to play again, but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. I just don’t see any positives coming out of this.