CLEVELAND (AP) – Their season and NBA title hopes slipping away, the Cleveland Cavaliers vented during a team meeting on Monday in hopes of clearing the air.
After losing 10 of 14, Cleveland’s players voiced their concerns and displeasure before practice, a person familiar with the meeting told The Associated Press while the team was in San Antonio preparing for a game.
There was “frustration all around” during the meeting, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity Tuesday because of the sensitive nature of the discussion. The person said there was a sense the session was “constructive” if the team is able to “move forward from it.”
Following an embarrassing 148-124 loss to Oklahoma City on Saturday, guards Dwyane Wade and Isaiah Thomas spoke about players needing to be more accountable and saying there was a lack of trust on defense. Forward Kyle Korver echoed those comments, adding it was time for players to look themselves in the mirror and ask what more each could do for the team.
“You just can’t point fingers,” Korver said.
The Thunder shredded the Cavaliers from every angle and area on the floor. Cleveland’s suspect defense has been an issue all season and it has grown worse since All-Star guard Thomas returned from injury.
Following Monday’s practice, center Kevin Love, who went home during Saturday’s game with an illness, said the team needs to stay connected during this rough patch.
The Cavaliers, who won 18 of 19 earlier this season, have fallen behind Boston and Toronto in the Eastern Conference standings and their recent problems have raised questions about whether they can get back their fourth straight NBA Finals.
Cleveland has the assets to improve its roster — the NBA’s oldest — and could use one of two first-round draft picks to land a top-tier player before the Feb. 8 deadline.
Before that, Love said, it’s imperative for the team to remain connected.
“We’ve seen it, that we can string together a lot of wins,” he said. “We’ve seen that we can play really great quarters and halves of basketball, but now it’s putting it all together. It is there for us, it’s there for the taking, there still is a lot of time left and we’ve shown in the past that we’ve been able to get better throughout a season, which is what you like to see. Hopefully I see us pushing through that here pretty soon.”
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