To begin the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers (22-52) had troubles with slewing together winning streaks of more than one or two games. During this time – stretching from the fifth game of the season against the Golden State Warriors until the Cavaliers reached a dismal record of 5-23 (.179) – Cleveland had four losing streaks of four games or more. Instead of looking like the functional Wine and Gold team that we saw when Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights first joined the squad, we saw a team that couldn’t hold a double-digit lead for squat.
That same team has appeared as of late with injuries keeping Kyrie Irving on a day-to-day basis in regards to playing and Dion Waiters possibly sidelined for the rest of the season. Since Irving went down with a shoulder injury, the Cavs have gone 1-8 in games he hasn’t appeared in (0-2 in games he has appeared in since getting injured), while without Waiters Cleveland has stumbled with a record of 0-7. Overall, the Wine and Gold are on a 10-game skid – that ties their longest losing streak since the 2010-11 season between Nov. 30 and Dec. 17 of 2010.
Since 10 is a pretty agreeable number, I’ll give you 10 shocking/interesting stats that have taken place between Cleveland’s current losing streak between March 15 and April 3:
10. The Cavaliers have lost by an average of 13.5 points during this 10-game losing streak – Against playoff teams such as the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics, the Cavs have only lost by six, three and one point(s) respectively. That’s quite impressive, but a complete meltdown (which we’ll get to later) against the Heat hurts a lot more than you might think a three-point loss to the defending champs would. But nonetheless, Cleveland has lost to teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Hornets by 10 and 20 points respectively. There are four playoff teams remaining out of Cleveland’s final eight games on the schedule, so things won’t get an easier.
9. The Wine and Gold have blown leads of 11, 27, 14 and 10 points against the Spurs, Heat, Celtics and 76ers respectively – It hurts that the Wine and Gold blew three of their leads against some of the best three teams in the league in dramatic fashion. It was gut wrenching. Byron Scott has now blown leads of 28 (against the Phoenix Suns) and 27 points (Heat) in just this season – both are franchise-worst records. This makes the questions of firing Scott before or during his extension season a legitimate argument.
8. Daniel Gibson is averaging 3.3 points, while shooting 27.3 percent from the field in 18.8 minutes – Ouch. I think it’s been safe to say for a while that Gibson was most likely not going to get his contract picked up again by the Cavs. But his play as of late – including an ejection in a away conteste against the Atlanta Hawks – secures that we won’t see Boobie in a Wine and Gold uniform next season.
7. On the other hand, Tyler Zeller is playing quite well – Yep, we are finally starting to see some clever shooting and rougher defense from the rookie center. He is averaging 8.3 points and 6.3 rebounds, while shooting 57.4 percent from the field in the last 10 games. With Dion Waiters out of the lineup, possibly for the rest of the season, Zeller is finally getting his rookie dues. If he works hard enough in the offseason and bulks up, we could see the Cavs heading in the right direction defensively.
6. The overall record of Cleveland’s opponents after the game’s decision is a combined 391-310 (.558) – I know you can point to the lack of effort from some players, the locker room chatter, Scott’s lack of creativity, collapsing defense and injuries, but Cleveland has faced the cream of the crop during this stretch. 7 of Cleveland’s 10 opponents are currently on the inside of the playoff picture. The caliber of opponents the rest of the way is almost as challenging as the last 10. They face teams with a current overall record of 297-301 (.497) in their final eight games.
5. The highest scorer on the opponent’s team has averaged 23.5 points – That is as many points as Kyrie is averaging this season, and would rank sixth in the NBA among highest scorers. It’s like facing Russell Westbrook every night. This is a pretty embarrassing statistic. They need to learn how to slow down players. How was nothing adjusted when MarShon Brooks went off on the Cavs Wednesday night? I just don’t understand at this point.
4. Cleveland has allowed opponents to score 105.7 points per game – I don’t even know what to think about this one. This would rank them dead last in the NBA by a whole point. The Cavaliers already rank 26th in this category for the whole season – they have let up 101.4 points per game over 72 games thus far. There’s still enough time for the Wine and Gold to drop to 28th if teams like the Mavericks and Houston Rockets emerge toward the end of the season due to playoff surges.
3. Teams have shot 50.2 percent against the Cavs during the losing streak – Not going to win many games when your opponent is shooting over 50 percent. I know there aren’t many positives during this streak, but it’s a losing streak for a reason. Not many bright spots, so you notice trends like these. Teams have been shooting lights out earlier in games as of late, so it’s even more miserable to watch than seeing a competitive team for at least one half.
2. The Cavaliers’ worst quarter has been the fourth frame – They still can’t close out games, and until they learn to do so, they’re not going to be a playoff team. They have averaged 21.6 points in the fourth quarter over the 10-game losing streak. But let’s look at which teams are atop the fourth-quarter scoring chart for the season: the Spurs, Rockets, Denver Nuggets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Lakers and Heat are all within the top seven spots in that category. The Cavaliers rank 15th on the season with a fourth-quarter scoring average of 23.8 points.
1. Three of the Cavaliers’ highest scoring players have been missing for all or most of the games played – Anderson Varejao hasn’t played since Dec. 18, 2012 (will end up missing 57 games this season), Waiters has missed seven of the 10 games (went down against the Pacers) and Irving has played in two of the last three games (has missed 39 games in his first two seasons). Kyrie hasn’t surpassed the amount of games he played in last season (51 games), and that was a 66-game season. People will be giving him the injury-prone tag for the rest of his career if the Cavaliers stay put in the dumpster and the All-Star keeps on sustaining freak injuries.