Two days after playing one of their best games of the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers played one of their worst.
On Wednesday, the shorthanded Cavaliers played an outstanding game and lost 98 – 95 to the Miami Heat.
On Friday night, the Cavaliers followed that game up by playing terribly in a 116 – 78 loss to the Houston Rockets.
So how could this happen, and what does it say about the Cavaliers?
First of all, the bad loss was probably a little bit of a carryover from the good loss. The Cavaliers played very hard against the Heat, and the main players for the Wine and Gold played a lot of big minutes. After the disappointing loss on Wednesday, it’s likely that the team just did not have as much fire and energy when they were taking on the Rockets.
The fact that the Heat game was at home and the Rockets game was on the road also likely contributed to the Friday loss being so much worse.
Also, while the Heat are a better team than the Rockets, the Rockets were a worse match-up for the Cavaliers for several reasons. The Heat came into the game on a historic winning streak, and they knew that if they got behind early in the game that they could turn up the defensive pressure and crash the boards harder for rebounds so that they could come back and win. That attitude likely helped the Cavaliers get off to a great start and let them know that they could steal the victory.
The Rockets, meanwhile, are in a position where they have to pick up wins in order to make the playoffs and possibly improve their seeding. They needed to beat the Cavaliers at home, and they came out with a lot of energy. The Rockets are also a very good offensive team, and it was natural that they were going to put up a lot of points against a shorthanded Cavaliers team.
The Cavaliers played both games without guards Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters, who are two of the main scorers for the Wine and Gold. Other players stepped up against the Heat, but you can’t count on the bench players to always play so well and nobody stepped up against the Rockets.
Also, consistency has been a problem all season for the Cavaliers, and that is partially due to having so many young players. The Cavaliers simply don’t bring the defensive intensity and focus to every game, and they have had too many bad losses. Having players out with injuries just increases the inconsistency and adds to the losses.
The good news is that all of this is part of the learning process for a young team. Sometimes this season the Cavaliers have looked very good and sometimes they have looked very bad. It just so happened that this week they looked great and terrible in the span of just two games.
Cavaliers fans shouldn’t be too disappointed by the bad loss to the Rockets. Young teams have bad losses. The hope is that as this team gets older, smarter and better, these bad losses will become a lot less frequent and the good wins will become a regular occurrence.