The Cleveland Cavaliers were the better team for most of the night on Wednesday, but a bad fourth quarter doomed them once again.
The Cavaliers have had a hard time closing out games all year, particularly when All-Star guard Kyrie Irving is not in the lineup.
Against the Boston Celtics on Wednesday, the Cavaliers battled throughout the game and looked good for most of the night. The Cavaliers were scoring inside and outside, they were getting big stops on defense and they were playing aggressively.
Leading by 14 with about eight minutes to play in the game, Cleveland stopped being aggressive on offense and gave up too many easy baskets on defense.
When Irving is in the game in the fourth quarter, he makes the offense go by driving to the rim or knocking down jump shots. In addition, defenses key on him, which opens up other players.
With Irving out of the lineup, and with rookie guard Dion Waiters also out of the lineup on Wednesday, the Cavaliers could not get enough good shots late in the game against the Celtics, who finished the game on a 21-6 run and escaped with a 93-92 victory.
It was a frustrating fourth quarter for Cavaliers fans to watch, especially when they have seen the same thing happen to their team so many other times already this season.
“I thought we stopped being aggressive,” head coach Byron Scott told NBA.com after the game. “We were looking at the clock, playing not to lose the game instead of win the game. With 5:40 left in the game, we get one field goal for the rest of the game. Again, you have to be aggressive. You have to look to win. You can’t hope the clock runs out and I thought that’s kind of what we did.”
Even so, the Cavaliers had a one point lead with just over 2 seconds to play. On the inbounds play that won the game, though, Celtics forward Jeff Green got ridiculously wide open and was able to drive to the rim for a relatively easy layup.
The Cavaliers defended that play terribly, and it was a shame for them to lose a game in that way after the had played so well.
The Cavaliers are short on players due to injuries, and it’s natural that they are going to lose some games. They should not have lost on Wednesday night, though. The Celtics didn’t beat the Cavaliers, the Cavaliers beat themselves.