Cavaliers Still Have Long, Daunting Road Ahead
It will probably get worse before it gets better.
That's the way it seems after a quick look at the Cavaliers' schedule. Four of their next five are on the road. The one at home in that stretch? Try NBA scoring leader James Harden and the Houston Rockets.
The fun begins Monday at Boston. You know, the Celtics. They're 16-5 and look much-improved now that they've replaced the dynamic (but ball-dominant and drama-inducing) Kyrie Irving with team-first winner Kemba Walker at point guard.
Actually, the fun started Saturday at Philadelphia. And oh what fun it wasn't, as the Cavs (5-17) were blasted by 47 points. Some will tell you things weren't even that close. "We sucked," power forward Kevin Love told reporters.
The 76ers were missing two starters in center Joel Embiid and shooting guard Josh Richardson, too. So let's just say coach John Beilein's bunch has some things to figure out.
There was a time when Beilein had the Cavs looking like overachievers. They huffed, they puffed, they almost blew their opponents' houses down in impressing their way to a near-.500 start through nine games. Nobody expected it.
Things haven't been the same since.
Collin Sexton and Darius Garland are young guards who suddenly look like ... well, young guards. Cedi Osman has played with the inconsistency of a third-year forward who rode the bench his first season. Love has looked ... well, irritated and increasingly ineffective.
Basically, aside from Sexton's scoring and the hustling of Tristan Thompson and Larry Nance Jr., you really don't know what you're going to get from anyone. Everything that once was considered the Cavs' strengths has seemingly started to haunt them.
Youthful energy. Veteran consistency. A first-time coach. An enthusiastic college atmosphere. All of those positives just seem to have vanished.
Mostly, the Cavs are missing the grit that kept them in games early in the season. It's not necessarily Every Man for Himself, but it's at least become Most Men Look Confused.
And you can't entirely blame the schedule. While the Cavs have indeed been matched up against some formidable foes, they recently completed a six-game stand at home. They won just once.
“We’re just laying eggs," Love said. "We’re getting beat by 20, 30, 40 points. It’s been very ugly. We can talk and talk and talk. So can coach. But until we go out there and actually do it, I don’t know what is going to happen.”
Following Monday's game at Boston and Wednesday's vs. Houston, the Cavs visit San Antonio (Thursday), visit Milwaukee (Saturday) and visit Toronto (a week from Monday).
Milwaukee and Toronto played in the Eastern Conference finals last season. Both of those teams and Boston are candidates to do the same this year. The staggered Cavs get to play all three in seven days.
So yes. It will probably get worse before it gets better.