You know things are bad when team meetings are held, which is exactly what the Cavs did after Thursday night’s game, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst.
“Every journey’s different. When you’re in it, it absolutely sucks, when you’re in a rut like this,” point guard Kyrie Irving told Windhorst. “We’re taking steps forward. After the game we took a step forward.”
“To be perfectly honest, we’re probably all over the place,” Irving continued. “It’s no time to kind of back up into the wall and panic. I’m not panicking and I don’t think anyone in this locker room should panic. We’re going to be just fine. It’s ugly right now. It’s real, real ugly. But we’ll get out of this, we’ll be fine.”
James passed Shaquille O’Neal for seventh on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, which he didn’t seem to care much about after the game.
“We’re just in a bad spot right now. Not disappointed with the effort. We’re just in a bad spot,” James told Windhorst before fleeing for the team bus. “We’re going to try to figure it out. … I think the effort was there. I just don’t think the concentration for as close to 48 minutes is there yet. Which is unfortunate.”
The milestone “means absolutely nothing right now,” he told Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon.
The Cavs have had four three-game losing streaks this season; they had four losing streaks of at least three games in their past two seasons combined. Cleveland also was swept by Chicago in the regular season, losing all four games against the Bulls, and the prospect of a Cleveland-Chicago first-round playoff series is not outside the realm of possibility. The Cavs are a half-game behind the Celtics for the top seed in the East, while the Bulls are a game behind the Pacers and Heat for the No. 8 spot.
|What is going on in Cleveland? (Alonzo Adams/AP)|
LeBron James says Cavs are in 'bad spot,' reasons for optimism are running out
Kyrie Irving didn’t say the words “team meeting” on Thursday, but he implied that one took place after the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 99-93 loss to the Chicago Bulls. Irving told reporters that the Cavaliers’ “took a step forward” after the game, and LeBron James said the team was in a “bad spot.”
From ESPN’s Brian Windhorst:
“We’re just in a bad spot right now. Not disappointed with the effort. We’re just in a bad spot,” James said following the Cavs’ fifth loss in the past seven games. “We’re going to try to figure it out. ... I think the effort was there. I just don’t think the concentration for as close to 48 minutes is there yet. Which is unfortunate.”
“Every journey’s different. When you’re in it, it absolutely sucks, when you’re in a rut like this,” Irving said. “We’re taking steps forward. After the game we took a step forward.”
Irving declined to elaborate on what took place after the game.
James, meanwhile, skipped his typical postgame ice routine, left the locker room and went to the bus before coach Tyronn Lue met with the media.
“To be perfectly honest, we’re probably all over the place,” Irving said of the team’s mental state. “It’s no time to kind of back up into the wall and panic. I’m not panicking and I don’t think anyone in this locker room should panic. We’re going to be just fine. It’s ugly right now. It’s real, real ugly. But we’ll get out of this, we’ll be fine.”
Cleveland can continue to be optimistic about turning things around in time to defend its championship. Kevin Love and J.R. Smith are still working their way back from injuries. The Cavs’ dismal defense could improve with a shorter playoff rotation. Larry Sanders could provide some rim protection. The offensive talent at the top of their roster is so great that they could get through the Eastern Conference without playing their best basketball. They have James and nobody else does. It’s obvious, though, that they’re not anywhere close to where they need to be.
Despite James’ 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists against the Bulls, Cleveland lost its third game in a row and fourth in five. The Cavs gave up 37 points in the third quarter and rank 29th in defensive rating in March, allowing 113.7 points per 100 possessions. Irving is correct that they shouldn’t panic, but there needs to be some urgency here. The Boston Celtics are now first in the Eastern Conference, and Chicago just swept its season series against Cleveland. When, exactly, would be a good time to panic? Is there ever one?
My suggestion: If the Cavs lose to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, then it’s officially panic time. The shorthanded Sixers used only eight players in their last game, and they’re only playing for pride at this point. Cleveland’s two previous games against Philadelphia, however, were extremely close.
Chris Broussard explains how LeBron James is making the Cavs’ struggles worse
The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a bad place headed into the postseason, and LeBron James knows it.
After another lackluster defensive performance in a loss to the Bulls on Thursday, The King called out his teammates and acknowledged Cleveland has a lot of work to do ahead of the playoffs.
On Friday's episode of Speak for Yourself, Chris Broussard joined Jason Whitlock, Colin Cowherd and Cris Carter to break down how LeBron is exacerbating the Cavs' issues.
BROUSSARD: "He is doing too much. He's always done too much, though. So, this is who he is. In two ways, he's doing it.
"One, on the court. LeBron's greatest strength — with everybody, your greatest strength is often your greatest weakness — his greatest strength is he's one of the most versatile players we've ever seen. He can play point guard at 6'8".
"But sometimes that causes confusion, because Kyrie doesn't know, 'Am I bringing it up this time, or are you?'
"Kyrie wants to be a point guard, but he can't because LeBron's the point guard half the time. Deron Williams looks confused, because he's used to handling the ball, 'but do I?'"