Cleveland Cavaliers Can't Close Out Games

By Nick Claussen


Chris Humphreys – USA TODAY Sports

If the Cleveland Cavaliers become a playoff team in the next few years, they may look back on games like Friday night’s loss to the Denver Nuggets as valuable learning experiences.

For now, though, the game was just another depressing example of the Cavaliers losing a game in the final minutes.

The Cavaliers played well for most of the night and probably deserved to win, but once again could not make plays at the end of the game. This has been the story for most of the season so far, and it is a big reason why the Cavaliers are just 9-29.

In the last few minutes when the Cavaliers needed to get stops on Friday night, for example, they allowed Nuggets guard Ty Lawson to get to the rim easily and then they let Andre Iguodala get to the rim. At another time, the Cavaliers defense got itself into a huge match-up problem when forward Tyler Zeller found himself guarding Lawson at the top of the key with the ball. And at a crucial moment when the Cavaliers were down by just two points and needed a stop, the defense got out of position once again and left shooter Danilo Gallinari wide open at the top of the key for a three-point shot that pretty much ended the game.

On the offensive end, the Cavaliers could not get to the rim and settled for contested jump shots. Dion Waiters drove to the rim once, but could not get a shot up. Kyrie Irving tried to make things happen with the ball a few times, but too often the other players just stood around and waited to see what he would do.

It was almost like when LeBron James was leading the Cavaliers and the other players would just clear out and watch James at the ends of games.

I don’t know if the Cavaliers players are afraid of messing up on offense or if they are just not sure what to do, but they need to become much more active and aggressive in the fourth quarter if they are going to start winning these close contests. The Cavaliers need to be attacking on offense and defense, and instead they look like they are playing conservatively and just trying not to lose.

The Cavaliers led for most of the game against Denver, and were scoring and defending well for much of the night. They led by a score of  56 to 45 at the half, but scored just 35 points in the second half and lost by a score of 98 to 91.

The biggest problem the Cavaliers have right now is youth, and the players apparently just need to gain more experience and learn more about how to win close games in the fourth quarter. Hopefully, this is all part of a learning process for the Wine and Gold, and it will help lead to more victories and a playoff team in a few years. For now, though, it’s frustrating to continuously watch this team play well for three quarters just to see them keep letting leads slip away in the fourth quarter.


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