When will it end? Will the heartbreak ever subside when it comes to Cleveland sports teams? It’s beginning to look like it never will. In another exciting overtime game yesterday against the Atlanta Hawks, the Cleveland Cavaliers found another way to lose. When it comes to finding ways to do that, it is a toss up between the Cavaliers and the Cleveland Browns as to which is more creative. In a game where the Cavaliers were up by five toward the end, another lapse into shoddy defense and terrible play led to the Hawks coming back and tying the game.
Kyle Korver hit open three-point shots, Jeff Teague played like the second coming of Allen Iverson and before Al Horford got hurt, nobody could contain him on the inside, along with Paul Millsap. However, even with those core guys playing as they did, the Cavaliers still had a chance to win the game both overtimes. They ended up losing 127-126.
Cavaliers fans will agree that in crunch time, the only person they would want to have the ball is Kyrie Irving. To say that he was awful down the stretch yesterday would be an understatement. In his last three overtime games, he is averaging 39.3 ppg. Amongst other NBA point guards, he leads in that category. He also leads all of the top players including LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Paul George in that category. However, his selfishness during the second overtime was crucial in the lost to Atlanta.
Irving lost the ball out of bounds off of his foot with two seconds left in the first overtime. It was tied 108-108. In the second overtime, he started to takeover and make up for the miscue, but it came at the cost of not involving his other teammates. Some fans will say that he doesn’t have the proper help or trust, but Dion Waiters has proven in the last few games that he can be that guy.
In his last 10 games, he is averaging 17.3 ppg, and it showed big time against the Portland Trail Blazers. He only saw the ball twice in both overtimes. Some will say it’s because of the different styles that he and Irving play with, while others will say it is because of the rift and the altercation that happened during the team meeting last month. Either way, Waiters must see the ball to at least try and help the team win.
Anderson Varejao played like his former self and hustled all over the place, along with Matthew Dellevdova coming off of the bench and contributing in the only way he knows how. In the end, Irving did not get others involved the way that a point guard should in certain situations. He is the star of the team and should have the ball, however, he has to realize that you cannot keep taking ill-advised shots and make mental mistakes in games down the stretch. He has to play smart.
The issue was none more apparent then during the post game with Waiters. He was asked about the turnovers during the game.
“We have to do a better job taking care of the ball,” Waiters said. “That’s that. No excuses, but we have to do a better job taking care of the ball.”
It is not a direct shot at Irving, but I’m sure he wouldn’t be mad if he listened and comprehended those comments.
It was an overall team loss, but one pass here or there and a defensive stop could of changed the complexion of the game. There was no reason Teague should have been that wide open with the everything on the line. It was the same identical play that the Trail Blazers ran with Damian Lillard to win their game. It is just brutal.
Some changes have to be made big time among the team for them improve. If some players have to be traded, and coaching staff changes have to be made, then so be it. Cavaliers fans do not deserve this misery. They were promised a winner and instead they’re getting a joke. They are a young a team and will have growing pains, but when there are obvious chances to win games, it must be done.
It all starts with Irving, and if he is the leader and future to play this team to a championship, then he needs to act like it.