Remember that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark when Indiana Jones scrambles to get under the stone wall that’s coming down from the top of the cave and then reaches back to grab his whip? The Cavs are Indiana Jones, the whip is one last NBA title, and the stone wall is LeBron James deciding where to go next.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost four of their last five games by an average of 16.8 points, and did so again against some pretty weak competition: Orlando, Brooklyn, New Orleans, and New York, none of which won as many as 35 games last season.
“When you lose to teams the way we’ve been getting beat, it’s unacceptable,” head coach Tyronn Lue said following the 114-95 loss to the Knicks that dropped the team’s record to 3-4 and in a tie for tenth place in the East.
Once Kyrie Irving went public with his desire to be traded, the Cavs had little choice but to roll the dice on Isaiah Thomas’ questionable hip. Then, they brought in the terminally injured Derrick Rose, and compounded the uncertainty with the addition of LeBron’s bestie, Dwyane Wade, who at 36 has a lot of hard miles on his 6-foot-4 frame. Thomas won’t be ready to go until January, Rose has already missed four of seven games, and Wade has asked Coach Lue to bring him in off the bench, giving up his starting spot to its previous owner, JR Smith. It was probably the right move, and Lue says they discussed it even before the season started, but it’s still a bad look.
James has been his usual amazing self, and Kevin Love is again averaging 19-11, but the team has a -3.3 turnover differential, and their perimeter defenders are allowing opponents to shoot .402 from downtown for a league high 13.7 threes per game while they themselves are making just .346 from beyond the arc. In the new three-centric NBA, this is not a winning formula.
Consider that conventional wisdom has LeBron opting out and taking his talents elsewhere for the 2018-19 season, casting dark days once again on Quicken Arena, this seasons could be the Cavs’ last chance for one more shot at a ring and those chances are vanishing right before our eyes.
Catch the Cavs vs the Washington Wizards Friday at 7pm ET on ESPN. You can watch NBA action ESPN by subscribing to Sling Orange, and on TNT by subscribing to Sling Orange or Sling Blue.
Houston Rockets vs New York Knicks
8pm ET on ESPN
Dallas Mavericks vs LA Clippers
10:30pm ET on ESPN
Golden State Warriors vs San Antonio Spurs
8pm ET on TNT
Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trailblazers
10:30pm ET on TNT
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Washington Wizards
7pm ET on ESPN
Boston Celtics vs Oklahoma City Thunder
9:30pm ET on ESPN