The Cleveland Cavaliers blew a 26 point lead to the Phoenix Suns Friday night, and it was a horrible thing to behold. So horrible that instead of spending my morning at the gym working on my own jump shot, I decided to pay homage to Red Auerbach and plow through a cigar while thinking about basketball. (That’s as close to a Boston Celtics compliment as I’m likely ever going to print)
I stayed up late to watch the Cavaliers take on the Phoenix Suns in the desert, and as I usually do for sporting events, I watched with Twitter nearby. The beginning of the game was down right fantastic. Cleveland opened up a huge early lead by getting good shots and playing the kind of active defense that would have saved Mike Brown‘s coaching job in Los Angeles.
Only thing Phoenix has going for them right now is how you can read Suns logo from either direction at half-court
— Brendan Bowers (@BowersCLE) November 10, 2012
Things started downhill quickly after that 37-16 Cavaliers dominated first quarter. Cleveland was outscored by eight in the second quarter, six in the third quarter and nine in the fourth quarter to lose a heart breaker on the road 105-107. It was an ugly end to what could have been a great game, but the box score from Friday is nowhere near as important to the big picture of Cavaliers basketball as our reaction to the melt down.
#CavsOnDVR Holy hell.
— WayneEmbrysKids (@WayneEmbrysKids) November 10, 2012
That Holy Hell tweet about sums up what everyone was thinking. Sure, there was some colorful language floating around, but it’s early and I haven’t had enough to drink to use those tweets here.
I call on Cleveland fans to stay on the Cavaliers bandwagon after that tough loss to Phoenix, and to stay there through the 46 or so more tough losses that the Cavs will endure this season. This team is young and exciting. Kyrie Irving has been carving out his path to stardom since his rookie debut last season, and Dion Waiters began what could be his own ascension up the ranks of The Association during his electric scoring run late in the game Friday. Anderson Varejao gave the team back its toughness in his return from injury and even Daniel Gibson got in on the act with a streak of hot shooting early that helped to keep the Cavaliers ahead during the lean second and third quarter.
All those good things are going to stay good things throughout this season, but the fact will remain that this Cavaliers team is led by a second year point guard, a rookie shooting guard and a veteran center who’s most impressive skill is hustle. General Manager Chris Grant is building this team with a plan, and if you got enough Christmas Ales into him, he’d tell you that the plan’s apex isn’t until the 2013-14 NBA season.
The team we’re watching this year is still learning. Coach Byron Scott is still using his rotation to teach young players the same lessons that he learned as a member of the Showtime Lakers teams. There still isn’t enough depth on the bench to take the scoring load off of Waiters and Irving. And the Cavaliers are still going to spend the early part of this season relying on minutes from Samardo Samuels and Luke Walton until rookie Tyler Zeller can find his place among the NBA big men.
If C.J. Miles had been any better than 0-7 with zero points or Alonzo Gee had tapped the tiniest bit more of his potential, the Cavaliers would have won a nail-biter, but they still would have given up that huge lead and I’d still have the same take away from the game as I do this morning.
The Cavaliers are essentially the 2008-09 Oklahoma City Thunder. That team with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook that was young, raw and only won 23 games. I’m sure there were plenty of Thunder fans doing barrel rolls off off the OKC bandwagon during that season, but they’re back now. All I’m saying to Cavaliers fans is don’t give up your seat in the front, because before you know it, there’s going to be a great view up here.