Ty Lue was given the dreaded vote of confidence so don’t count on him staying in control long. Wait, is he in control in the first place? The Cavs play like they want him fired. No chemistry. No interest. No fire. And something you would never say about a Cavs team with LeBron James, no heart. You get the feeling Kyrie is having a good time clowning the Cavs but the Cavs are too pathetic for him to waste his time. You can’t even make fun of them. They are just morose. They lost by 30 points when they had three days off before Saturday night’s game.
Where to start? The Rockets Harden-Paul combo reinforced what it is like to have a team with two creators and skilled scorers and a big man who can pick and roll the opposition into numbness and, oh yeah, Clint Capela is only 22 years old. The Cavs used to have two creators with Irving and James but now are down to one. When James is off, it is annihilation. Isaiah Thomas has been a bust fitting into the offense and his defense is depolorable. Ditto Derrick Rose.
Then there is the elephant in the room which is all on Ty Lue. In his 15th year, the LeBron Cavaliers don’t have a style of play, an identity or any chemistry. Someone has to take the blame. The players aren’t going anywhere, or at least, LeBron James isn’t going anywhere until, perhaps, July 1st. The rest of the Cavs are up for grabs because no one is really performing the way they need to be. The Cavs are at the bottom of the league in rebounding, steals, blocks, and defense. They lead the league in apathy and looking lost and bewildered.
Lost and bewildered was on stage on Saturday night, like the Cavs dog had died. Except the Cavs were the dogs and the Rockets put them out of their misery early. But this isn’t all on Houston exceptionalism. The Cavs have been treading water since Christmas but against the great teams they just drown. That’s how bad they are. Worse, they don’t really seem to care anymore. They have the glum look down as if they don’t expect to win.
The Cavs have lost by double digits 9 times since their Xmas loss to the Warriors. The Celtics, Raptors, Warriors, Rockets have 7 such losses since Xmas combined. The Warriors and Rockets have each lost three blowout games, the Raptors one, and the Celtics none.
The Cavs are going backwards. Since January 1st they are 6-9 and when that happens to a team that is the oldest in the league with so much expectation, then only one thing is predictable.
The coach is on life support.
LeBron James passive-aggressive approach to conflict frames everything he says about Ty Lue these days. He has given him the death knell half-in, half-out vote of confidence. So prepare yourself for anything.
Lue, the tough guy tactician, has his team playing like they know they can’t win. In parts of the game, they just stop trying. Cue bad body language and pessimism and an absence of joy. On Saturday night, their usual half a game effort was reduced to no game effort.
Everything critical falls upon the shoulders of Lue instead of say the front office because Koby Altman is too new in the front office to take any heat but it is the Cavs front office who put this team of walking dead together. But they will never have to defend their decisions.
- Derrick Rose: quickness to the rim but can’t guard a paper bag. Defensive Rating 116, career worst.
- Jae Crowder: the so-called tough defender has a Defensive Rating of 113, a career worst.
- Jeff Green: being Jeff Green. Defensive Rating of 113, tied for career worst.
Those are the newcomers. Now for those you know.
- LeBron James: 30,000 points and three rings but his 108 Defensive Rating, worst of his career. (When MJ was 39 his defensive rating was 103. LeBron can do better).
- J.R. Smith: 37% shooting. Defensive Rating a career atrocious: 114.
- Kevin Love: 40% from three. 19 points per game. Same defensive rating as his rookie year, which means uh-oh Cavs. Good thing he’s not playing. Or is it?
The scapegoat for all Cavs dysfunction lay in the lap of Kevin Love until he broke his hand. With no one convenient to blame, the team has to wake up and look in the mirror. It is all of them.
A report indicated the Cavs were interested in Lou Williams. Talk about the Kyrie hole becoming a crater and pulling everyone into the nine rings of hell.
The Cavs need a second scorer (Kyrie replacement) and why not Lou Williams, right? He is carrying the Clippers and is having a career year. But here’s something to know about Lou Williams. He once said, “I don’t get paid to play defense.”
Same can be said for all the Cavs right now which is why Ty Lue is on the hot seat. But before a coach gets thrown into the unemployment line who replaces him? LeBron’s former coach David Fitzdale?
The irony of all this Cavs anxiety and heat not on Ty Lue but really on Ty Lue, and LeBron looking stoic and fed up, is that good guy Lue got the job because David Blatt won 30 games and then was fired. Then, GM David Griffin felt the team was underperforming and needed a change. But if that was underperforming what in the name of God is this?
The Cavs keep trotting out the idea of “trades” to help the team but Kevin Durant isn’t coming, neither is Chris Paul. So you get Jordan Clarkson and get rid of Iman Shumpert. You get Tyreke Evans and you get rid of Channing Frye. Is that going to make everything return to exceptional normal. No. They are trying to stop a gunshot wound with a piece of tape.
The Cavs made the most egregious mistake you can make. In their happiness of a title they overpaid players who are specialists and can’t create on their own and who were older and so now they are stick with a 5 point Tristan Thompson and a 37% shooting J.R. Smith.
Since nothing else has helped, how about a little Zen:
“There comes a point where you no longer care if there is a light at the end of the tunnel or not. You’re just sick of the tunnel.”
Not there yet. Obviously.