Blowing big lead against dreaded Heat stings, but brighter days may be on way. Again.
By SAM AMICOFS Ohio
CLEVELAND -- Go ahead, blame Byron Scott for the
Cavaliers’ 98-95 home loss to Miami on Wednesday.
Scott is the coach of the
Cavs, and he’s man enough to take it.
Or go ahead, just blame the city of Cleveland. Goodness knows this godforsaken sports place sure seems cursed.
But whatever you do, don’t blame the men in uniform. Don’t blame Cavs forward Tristan Thompson, or center Tyler Zeller, or guards Wayne Ellington or Shaun Livingston.
Don’t blame C.J. Miles for coming off the bench and missing a three-pointer at the final buzzer, either.
Those are the guys who really wanted this. Those are the guys whose blood and sweat turned to tears after LeBron James and the Heat overcame a 27-point deficit in the second half.
Those are the guys who left everything on floor -- and those are the guys who could care less about silly things like lottery picks, whether the Lakers make the playoffs, or where LeBron James signs in 2014.
“That’s for you guys to talk about,” Thompson said.
Yeah, that’s what we do as reporters as fans. We speculate, we judge, we come up with oh-so-simple solutions.
We trash the home team. We hate on LeBron. We blame the coach. We fall to our knees, raise our hands to the heavens and demand to know why we weren’t born in South Dakota.
You know the tales of woe already. The Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. The Decision. The Please Make It Stop and Go Away.
But Thompson, Zeller, Ellington, Livingston, Miles and the rest could give two hoots about any of that.
All they knew was they were without their top two scorers in Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters.
All they knew was Livingston and Ellington are supposed to act as calming influences off the bench, that neither was here before Christmas (Ellington not until late January), that both had to start and would be looked upon to jack up shots and put up points.
That’s not what they were brought here to do. Yet they shut up and tried anyway.
Meanwhile, Thompson was just supposed to be a bust. The Cavs drafted him at No. 4 overall, then he spent about a season-and-half just sort of heaving the ball at the basket and getting his dunks blocked.
Now, he’s getting the best of Heat star Chris Bosh every time they play. Thompson (18 points, eight rebounds) throws a post move here, a floating almost-baby-hook there, a slam or two in between.
You get that sense that, at the end of these games, Bosh is saying, “For crying out loud. Who on earth is this kid?”
Oh, this is quite the time for LeBron and the Heat. They’ve won 24 straight, and James is better than ever. He owns a championship ring and is well on his way to another, and maybe another after that.
The Cavs, on the other hand, are too often on their way to the Cleveland Clinic.
They’re young, they’re frustrating, they’re out of sorts, they just can’t pull it together. Not this year. Not since LeBron left.
They’ve come close, and man, what fun it can be when that happens. But it doesn’t happen nearly enough.
Not for a city utterly dying for a reason, any reason at all, to feel good about itself. Not for a fan base that always seems to end up trying to make sense of what just happened.
But here’s the bottom line on the Cavs: We knew they were in for a season like this. Seriously, folks. We knew it the very moment they rolled out the ball back in October.
It stinks, it hurts, it’s just not fair.
But it’s never been unexpected.
The day will come when the Cavs’ pieces are in place, when they’re more experienced, when they’re more in tune, when they can stay out of that stupid room with the MRI machine in it.
Without question, they have to be in a better place next season. Without question, they have to grow up fast. Without question, they have to stay healthy.
Next year, we can’t talk about next year anymore. Not for this team.
The good news is, the coach and the men in uniform seem to realize that. The good news is, they really believe they can do something about it.
So go ahead, take the latest punch in the gut, then go about your day.
You knew it was coming.
But what you may not know is the home team, the guys who are out there on that floor and roaming that sideline and in that locker room, care deeply. They wanted this one. They want every one.
And sometime soon, they plan to show you all that passion will result in considerably more than this.