INDEPENDENCE: Mike Brown still believes the Cavaliers’ nucleus is capable of winning in the NBA. It just won’t be this season.
As the Cavs conclude their final couple of practices and prepare for Wednesday’s season finale against the Brooklyn Nets, Brown pointed to how well the Cavs have played the past few weeks while conceding the effort in the past two games was unacceptable.
“For a pretty long stretch we showed we’re capable of playing some pretty good basketball, even when we’re not fully healthy,” Brown said. The Cavs have played .500 for the past nine weeks.
“There are a lot of teams that kind of get a little sideways, especially teams that aren’t in the playoff race,” Brown said. “A lot of those teams are able to play young guys or guys who are extremely hungry for a contract or to show they deserve minutes. You go out there and go through the motions against those types of teams, they’re going to hand you your lunch.”
That’s what happened in the previous two embarrassing losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics, when NBA unknowns like Chris Wright and Phil Pressey enjoyed big nights against a Cavs team that clearly looked disinterested in playing any longer.
“It’s disappointing based on our effort. Our fans definitely don’t deserve it, especially at the end of the season,” Kyrie Irving said Monday. “We preached it and said we wanted to finish strong, but teams are just getting the best of us. Our effort level wasn’t there. It’s disappointing and we have to be disappointed in ourselves.”
Now they’ll get a Nets team that might have nothing left to play for by Wednesday night. The Nets host the New York Knicks in a national television game today. They need one more victory or a loss by the Washington Wizards (who played at the Miami Heat on Monday) to secure the fifth seed in the East and a first-round rematch from last season against the Chicago Bulls.
Since they’ll also be playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Nets could rest all of their regulars Wednesday in an effort to prepare for the playoffs. Regardless, the Cavs will need a better effort than what they’ve provided recently.
They’ll also be without Luol Deng, whom Brown has already ruled out for the finale. Deng has missed the past two games with a bad back.
Brown wasn’t sure yet about Anthony Bennett or C.J. Miles, although both would seem unlikely since it’s the final game of the season and both have missed a considerable amount of time already.
Miles conceded last week he was running out of time, but his sprained ankle just wasn’t cooperating. He has essentially missed the final two months of the season with the injury.
Irving raised eyebrows again with his Twitter account over the weekend, writing “Jump over the fence … no regrets” following the Cavs loss at Milwaukee on Friday. The tweet quickly caught the attention of team personnel.
That phrase can be interpreted multiple ways. According to the website urbandictionary.com, “jumping the fence” means to be trapped in a bad situation and trying quickly to get away.
“Jump the fence,” however, which is closer to what Irving wrote, means to abandon a heterosexual lifestyle for a homosexual one.
Irving’s friend and former high school teammate, UMass sophomore Derrick Gordon, announced last week he was gay — a decision Irving met hours later with great praise for his courage.
Perhaps because of all the scrutiny regarding his future, Irving didn’t want to discuss the tweet when asked about it on Monday.
“I’m just going to let you dissect that,” he said. “Whatever you want to think about that.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at email@example.com. Read the Cavs blog at www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.