LeBron James delivered the Cavs to 40 victories before any other team last season. He delivered them their 40th defeat Monday night, making them the first team in the league with 40 losses.
As much as Cavs fans don't want to hear it, it's hard to argue these days with James' decision to leave. Even at their best, the talent surrounding James in Cleveland seems to be a collection of sixth men. Anthony Parker would make a nice sixth man, not so much a starting point guard. Antawn Jamison is nearing the end of his career and began the season in the role of sixth man. Mo Williams' defensive liabilities leave him vulnerable when guarding some of the other top point guards around the league. He would be a dynamite scorer off the bench (when healthy) on a championship-caliber team.
Even the Cavs' best player this season, Anderson Varejao, is ideally a sixth man. Cavs coach Byron Scott said so himself before the start of the season. Scott said how much he'd love to have Varejao as his sixth man, but the lack of centers on the roster thrusted him into the starting role.
On the Cavs, all these guys were key pieces surrounding one of the best players in the game.
Now what's left is a team missing its engine. There'a a carburetor, some windshield wipers and a headlight, but nothing to make the thing move. Particularly with all the injuries, the Cavs don't have the pieces to compete when other teams decide to play.
The Magic did it to the Cavs on Sunday, shutting them down for 6 1/2 minutes with one basket to turn a nine-point lead into a 20-point lead. The Heat did it on Monday, deciding to start playing again in time to hold the Cavs to two baskets over nearly nine minutes in the third quarter.
On the dry-erase board in the Heat locker room before the game, one of the offensive goals was to not lose focus in the game. Teams that play the Cavs routinely have that as a pregame goal. As Dwyane Wade said after the game, he was hoping this would be one of those nights when he got to take the fourth quarter off.
Sadly, that's how most teams view the Cavs these days.
Some would blame James for creating this mess. Others point to this mess as the reason he left. What do you think?
Antawn Jamison 21 points, 10 rebounds
Manny Harris 20 points
J.J. Hickson 14 points, nine rebounds
Ramon Sessions 11 points, seven assists
LeBron James 24 points, eight assists
Dwyane Wade 34 points, seven rebounds, five assists
Chris Bosh 10 points, seven rebounds
Zydrunas Ilgauskas 12 points, 14 rebounds
The Cavs cut a 19-point deficit to 70-67 on a jumper by Antawn Jamison with 8:34 left in the third, but scored just two baskets the rest of the quarter. The Heat extended the lead to 17 entering the fourth.
The Cavs have not led in any game since leading the Boston Celtics 25-24 with 1:54 left in the first quarter, a span of more than 190 minutes.
They said it
"It didn’t matter for me if the Cavs were going to have a successful season or not. I felt like I was making the right choice for me as an individual and for my career. I have nothing bad to say about the players I left and the team. I wish the organization the best and I wish the fans more than anything the best. We had a lot of great years together. Their losing streak, how we’re playing does not give me any indication that I made the right decision. I feel like I did that when I said I wanted to come here." -- LeBron James
The Cavs (8-40) host Indiana (18-27) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.