LeBron's return to Cleveland was seen as something not just for the fans, but as something to bring the current Cavalier unit together. Except it has kind of had the opposite effect.
Counting the Heat's 28-point destruction of them, the Cavaliers have now dropped four straight by an average margin of 23 points. Not just that, but the losses following the Miami game have come at the hands of the Timberwolves, Pistons and 76ers. Teams with a combined record of 19-45.
With the way things are going, it almost seems like the Cavs have quit. And there's thinking that coach Byron Scott may be losing his team. Scott knows they hear him. But even he doesn't know if it's getting through.
"I feel they hear me," he told The Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Now the listening part I don't know. I think I was pretty loud and clear at halftime."
Leaders like Daniel Gibson and Antwan Jamison say they're still tuned in. "I'm listening to him," Jamison told the paper. "Guys are listening to him as well. Let's be honest. It's not the coach." Said Gibson: "We definitely ride with everything Byron tells us ... He's in our corner, and we all are behind him. We have to go out there and do it."
Cavs beat writer Mary Schmitt Boyer, a very seasoned NBA writer, feels like this team has pretty much given up.
"I have covered the NBA in various places since 1981. I've covered good teams and bad teams and expansion teams and championship teams, so I know what I'm talking about here when I say that this Cavs team, right now, is as bad as any of them. It has nothing to do with talent. It has to do with attitude, and these Cavs are feeling sorry for themselves. Hey, it's too bad that LeBron James left and didn't take all of you to South Beach, but the people of Cleveland who remain deserve a better effort than you have been putting out. They got a pretty raw deal, too, you know.For whatever reason, it seemed to all changed after the Heat game. Prior to that, the Cavs couldn't have been called anything other than a mediocre team that played with some inconsistency. They were 7-10, had beaten a contender like the Celtics and were competitive every night. The good teams handled them by 10 or more, but the average and bad clubs were either wins, or close losses. But after LeBron came back, the Cavs aren't even competitive against the bad teams.
This is absolutely pathetic. Byron Scott is right when he says it's got nothing to do with Xs and Os. Antawn Jamison is right when he says nothing has changed in the team's offensive or defensive schemes and that guys have to look themselves in the mirror. The worst part is that Scott said things actually could get worse. He said he wasn't sure if guys had had enough yet. Well, I can tell you from the emails and comments posted on the Plain Dealer stories and blogs, that fans have had enough."
After the 34-point loss to the Wolves, I thought the team had quit. It was obvious to me. They had no interest in working on the defensive end and at no point looked focused and intent on winning a basketball game. They looked like group that wanted to get on the hardwood for 48 minutes and then get off as quickly as possible.
Scott has been through a tough season before. He coached the Grizzlies (of Vancouver at the time) to a 15-67 record in their first season. Scott even said he started drinking beer as a result of that year. And the way this season is going, he may have built quite the liquor cabinet before April.