CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Cleveland Cavaliers’ woes officially hit 4-alarm fire status Saturday with a 148-124 shellacking courtesy of the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Expected to be title contenders, this year’s version of the Cavs will be lucky to get out of the Eastern Conference if they keep playing like they have this month.
It is a notion that not even LeBron James could deny following yet another blowout loss.
“We’re not ready for the playoffs,” James said, echoing a sentiment he expressed last week. “Not the way we’re playing right now. We could easily be bounced early in the playoffs if they started next weekend.”
Having lost 10 of 14 and after setting season highs for points allowed in a game three times over that span, time is running out for Cleveland to get it together.
“We all have to be better,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s not one person or one section of blame. It’s everybody and we all have to be better.”
Well, to be fair, they can’t play any worse.
Lue said “not yet” when asked if he was ready to make any lineup changes and before the game he said how much he liked his current group of players.
It might not matter.
General manager Koby Altman could make changes in the coming days with a trade or two. The NBAs trade deadline this year is Feb. 8 and the Cavs have been active according to multiple reports.
Frankly, the Cavs need a shakeup because the status quo is not cutting it.
James was asked after the game if he thinks Lue’s job is in jeopardy with the team in a nosedive that they can’t seem to get out of.
“I would hope not, but I really don’t know,” James said. “I don’t know what’s going to happen with our team. I have no idea what conversations have been going on. Me personally, I’ve been trying to stay as laser-sharp as I can to keep my guys ready to go out and play.
“Obviously, it hasn’t resulted in wins, but I got to stay as fresh mentally as much I can with the struggles. I can’t worry about job securities and trades and things of that nature. I just stay as focused as I can every night to go out and compete and try to help us win ballgames.”
Guard Isaiah Thomas, who is starting to show flashes of his old self on the offensive end, lamented the continued woes for the league’s oldest team defensively and the lack of trust that seems to exist.
“We gotta go back to the drawing board on that end,” Thomas said. “As players, we gotta take pride in defense. We gotta take pride in getting stops as a group collectively.”
Thomas also refuses to blame Lue for their problems.
“I think we need to hold everybody accountable a little more and I think that’s the biggest thing right now, if guys ain’t doing the right job they need to come out the game,” Thomas said. “And that’s just what it is.”
Dwyane Wade, who won two championships and made 4 Finals runs with LeBron in Miami echoed Thomas’ comments about where the responsibility lies.
“We have to take accountability,” Wade said.
Accountability and trust.
“The trust level, obviously it’s not good,” Wade said. “I think both sides of the floor, the one thing in this game, defense is driven by the offense. It’s unfortunate that it’s that way but a lot of guys play better when they’re involved offensively. So when guys feel like they’re not involved, they’re not getting their shots, they’re not getting their looks it makes the defense even harder.
“The trust not there or whatever, everyone not feeling involved, everyone not feeling like they’re a part, we’re struggling even more defensively. We’re already been the oldest team in the league and not great individual defenders, so there’s a lot of parts to it. Not making excuses because there’s none to make, but there is definitely trust issues on both ends of the floor.”