Ugly, bad, terrible game of basketball, resulting in the Cleveland Cavaliers almost losing at home to the Philadelphia 76ers. They won 87-86, led by a lukewarm LeBron James, but losing Kevin Love and Iman Shumpert to injuries is getting David Blatt thinking about starting to rest his players.
Both teams failed to score during the final 3:56 of the game. You’d expect that from a tanking team, but the Sixers are also pretty good defensively, and the Cavaliers found it very difficult to find and create good shots. Maybe it’s fatigue, physical and mental, but it might be complacency and laziness of the mind, taking things for granted after coming from such a deep hole in the middle of the season.
James scored 20 points, added 11 rebounds and 6 assists. But he also shot just 8-of-24 from the field and turned the ball over five times. There’s more than one race going on right now – not just for a playoff seeding, as the Cavaliers are leading the one for second place, but also for the MVP award, which James doesn’t care about as much now that he has four of them. This kind of performance isn’t going to help him pull in some votes.
The Cavaliers shot 38.8% from the field and although they grabbed 18 offensive rebounds, they scored just 34 points in the paint. Kyrie Irving scored 17 points and Timofey Mozgov helped out with 14, but the biggest news coming out of this encounter was Kevin Love (hurt back again) and Iman Shumpert (left ankle) out for at least a few days, missing the next game if not more.
At this point, with 2.5 games of a lead over the Chicago Bulls, the Cavaliers don’t need a whole lot more before they can actually rest players and not have to worry about losing the second spot in the East. Their remaining schedule does include a game against the Bulls, but it’s hard to feel too confident about any team in the East. Two or three more wins for Cleveland and it’s a done deal.
You find a way to win. This is a winning league. No matter however you gotta do it, you do it. This isn’t a minor funk. We were 19-20 at one point. This ain’t no funk. What’s our record? That’s not much a funk. We’re playing good ball. Being held scoreless for the final 4:04 of the game isn’t “good ball”.
Nerlens Noel had a chance to win the game with a pretty decent look inside the lane but his shot bounced off the rim, another missed opportunity but also the last one. Noel was having a hard time coming to grips with the miss later on in the locker room. Another example of a team tanking, but these players do want to win games. They’re just not good enough to do it too often.