From the Glass Is Half Full department, we now present to you the positive side of all of the close losses the Cleveland Cavaliers have had this season.
The Cavaliers have lost a ton of close games already this year, and it has been frustrating to watch at times. Often, the Cavaliers will be ahead or tied late in a game and then not be able to get off a good shot or make a key defensive stop so they end up losing.
On Friday night, for example, the Cavaliers led the Atlanta Hawks by seven points at one time in the fourth quarter, and then led by a score of 94 – 93 with 2:53 to play in the game. The Hawks ended the game on a 9-0 run, though, and won 102 – 94.
The Cavaliers were playing hard at the end of the game, but they just could not make plays when they needed them. It’s the same thing that has happened numerous other times this season, and Head Coach Byron Scott attributed the late game problems on Friday night to youth:
“That was a good example of youth versus experience,” Scott said after the game. “If you don’t know what I mean, the last three minutes of the game, the Hawks did a heck of a job running their offense and getting the ball into the paint and we just settled on bad jump shots. That’s the biggest difference.”
The Cavaliers are dominated by young players, and this was even more true on Friday night when veteran forward/center Anderson Varejao missed the game due to an injury and veteran guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson suffered a concussion in the second quarter and could not finish the game.
The Cavaliers ended the game with two second-year players and two rookies on the floor, and that made things tough.
Also, the Cavaliers don’t really have a post player that they can dump the ball into and count on to get a bucket late in the game. Varejao and young post players Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson all play hard and can score a little, but they do much better scoring off of rebounds or going to the basket.
So too often late in games, the Cavaliers are settling for jump shots or are driving to the rim and sometimes forcing bad shots. Sometimes the drives result in good looks, but that is not happening enough for the Cavaliers in the fourth quarters.
Guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are the two best scorers on the team, and as they continue to play they will learn more about the best shots to take late in games and how to best set up their teammates in those situations. They are doing well late in games, but they are not doing well enough to lead the Wine and Gold to many close victories.
Fans should remember, though, that while it’s frustrating to see this young team keep losing games in the fourth quarter, this hopefully is all part of a learning process. The Cavaliers should begin understanding soon what it takes to close out games, and hopefully they will begin to win a few more of these games as the season continues. Ideally, this team will also learn how to pull away from teams away in the fourth quarter, and all of these close losses will be a distant memory in a year or two.
The Cavaliers know they have been in all of these games and know that they can play with anyone. They just have to get a little more experience now, so that soon they will know that they can play with and also beat anyone.