Cavs’ playoff dreams dead? Well, mostly, but not officially

To make the playoffs, the Cavs must win out and the Hawks, who have seven games left, can only win two.

David Goldman/AP

Cleveland Cavaliers (31-46) vs. Charlotte Bobcats (38-38)

Venue: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland.

TV: 7:30 p.m., FOX Sports Ohio (Cavaliers Live pregame starts at 7 p.m.)

Projected Starters

CHARLOTTE: C Al Jefferson; PF Cody Zeller; SF Michael Kidd-Gilchrist; SG Gerald Henderson; PG Kemba Walker.

CLEVELAND: C Spencer Hawes; PF Tristan Thompson; SF Luol Deng; SG Dion Waiters; PG Kyrie Irving.

Pregame Notes:

— It’s time to forget about the playoffs for the Cavs, but I just can’t. Not until the league office notifies us that the Cavs are officially eliminated. They trail the Hawks (33-42) by three games for the final spot with five to go.

— So I looked up what needs to happen. Basically, the Cavs must win out and the Hawks, who have seven games left, can only win two. I looked at the Hawks’ remaining games. I think they’ll win four, three at worst. But you can never be sure. After all, the Hawks aren’t exactly the embodiment of consistency.

— Of course, the Cavs also trail the Knicks (33-44) by two games. Like the Cavs, the Knicks have five games left. I’m not even gonna bother predicting what the Knicks might do. … Actually, I will. Hang on a second.

— OK, looked it up. To pass the Knicks, the Cavs must win out and the Knicks need to finish 2-3. I looked at the Knicks’ schedule and 2-3 is exactly what I think they will do. I think the Knicks will lose at the Heat, at the Raptors and at the Nets. I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt and predicting they will beat the Raptors and Bulls at home. Obviously, those are no gimmes, either.

— Needless to say, for the Cavs to have ANY chance, they MUST win all five of their remaining games. And even if that happens, they will still need a couple miracles. They may be better off lifting their eyes to heaven and lighting some holy candles.

— What I’ve left out is the Cavs can’t seem to beat the Bobcats. The ‘Cats can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight. For them, the postseason has already arrived. I don’t like the Cavs’ chances against the Bobcats when it’s just an everyday regular-season game. So you can imagine my confidence level for this one.

— Interestingly, I tried telling readers before the season that Michael Jordan’s days as a joke of an owner were over. I tried telling them the Bobcats possess a nice roster with the likes of Al Jefferson, Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and the forever-underrated Gerald Henderson. And while I haven’t voted for Coach of the Year yet, I will when the Pro Basketball Writers Association asks later this month. Without putting much thought into it, I can tell you that first-year Bobcats coach Steve Clifford will be among those whom I strongly consider.

— Now on to that Kyrie Irving rant on Twitter. I didn’t really want to come near this, but I cover the Cavs, and it’s my job. Plus, the whole situation has been bugging me. I have a lot to say on it — but unless you’re in the media room with me later tonight, I can promise you’re not going to get my full take.

— Irving was responding to comments made by former Cavs beat writer Brian Windhorst on a Cavs-related blog. Windhorst was interviewed by the blog and said Kyrie and his camp want out of Cleveland. This is something we’ve been hearing for a while from the national media, and not just Brian.

— Let me start by saying I like Brian and have a great deal of respect for his work and even more for what I know of him as a person. So this is by no means a personal or professional attack. But Kyrie is right on this one. He’s almost always available at practice or in the locker room. At least ask the guy if the things you’re hearing about him are true. He’ll deny it, and we know he’ll deny it. That doesn’t matter. He deserves to be heard, and one of the first things you learn in journalism school (which, as a psych major, I never attended) is to be fair. Asking Kyrie his take on what you’ve heard, before going public with it, is what’s fair.

— This doesn’t apply to Brian, but it always amazes me how national writers always come up with these big scoops on the Cavs but are never in the locker room, never at practice, never even at Cavs games. (Again, Brian does occasionally attend Cavs games, etc.) They’re never in a position to actually TALK to the players and get their side of the story. Remember when Bleacher Report ran a big piece on Dion Waiters wanting to be traded? Well, I can promise you no one from Bleacher Report has been at The Q this season.

— After that story came out, I was standing in the Cavs’ locker room with News-Herald writer Bob Finnan before a game. Waiters walked out of the training room and went over to his locker. Finnan and I looked at each other, as if to say, "Why not?" So we approached Dion, and Bob asked, "You want traded?" Waiters smiled widely and went on and on and on about how the report was false. It was pretty obvious he was glad we asked. He wanted to tell his side of the story.

— Finally, this is not related to anything mentioned above, but I am being told by executives and insiders around the NBA that former Cavs GM Chris Grant has been spinning stories. Grant, of course, was fired in February. I’ve always really liked Grant personally, even if I didn’t care for the way he refused to make himself regularly available to local media. But one insider told me Grant "is considered a buffoon around the league: Dishonest, incapable and full of (beans)." It wasn’t the first time I heard something like that, and I still often get that vibe about Grant when talking with other GMs. (For the record, Grant has denied all this and even once requested that we call, together, the folks who trashed him. I declined to join him in such an adventure.)

— Anyway, the point is Grant now has a reputation as someone who is attempting to tell the world the Cavs will be one huge disaster without him. I have no clue if he’s talking directly to national writers — but he at least talks to people who talk to those writers (and, obviously, to me). I’m not saying Grant had an influence in Windhorst’s comments. I’m not even trying to imply that. Brian is certainly dialed-in and intelligent enough to form his own opinion on things. But beware of other yarns involving the Cavs. The one thing I learned long ago in this business is that, sometimes, sources have agendas. The key is to pay attention to what takes place on the floor and in the locker room, and don’t get too caught up in the "he said, she said" stuff.

— OK, that’s your journalism lesson for the day. Or something. The bottom line on this season is the Cavs still have five critical games to play. Can we at least worry about the summer in the summer?