For Cavs, another awful loss shows pride in need of repair

"We don't look like we're playing to get better. We look like we're playing (while) going through the motions. It's not good." - Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown

Kelley L Cox/Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

CLEVELAND — During a season in which the Cavaliers have set new benchmarks in bad losses and mailing it in, they put forth some of their best work on Saturday night.

The verdict: Undermanned and visiting Celtics 111, Cavs 99.

For those of you who prefer to keep playing the NBA Draft lottery (unavoidable now) and think losing is a good thing at this time of year, well, check out what took place in this one. Check out the type of locker-room togetherness that constant losing brings you. Yeah, keep playing the lottery and worrying about ping-pong balls. It’ll really take you places, and fast.

But here’s the thing: Ping-pong balls and draft picks don’t make jump shots or defend. Want the Cavs to tank their final few games? Oh, don’t worry, they’re way ahead of you. They’re tanking, OK. In their effort and in their desire to finish with any sort of pride.

"It’s too bad for us to play the way we have as of late, and let opportunity slip away," said Cavs coach Mike Brown after this debacle, in which the Cavs trailed a really bad team with just eight players by too many points to count.

But opportunity? Where?

"It’s an opportunity to get better as a team and as individuals," Brown said of the final few games. "We just don’t know how to do it. We don’t look like we’re playing to get better. We look like we’re playing (while) going through the motions. It’s not good."

No one expects Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters and the rest of the Cavs (32-49) to come out and act like they’re chasing down a world championship.They were eliminated from the playoff race last week.

But a little heart and elbow grease sure would be nice. Just play hard. That’s all the fans want. They’ve already accepted that, for whatever reason, this team just isn’t very good.

And let’s remember, these aren’t exactly the Celtics of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. They aren’t even the Celtics of Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Kris Humphries — as all three missed Saturday’s game with injuries.

Still, players such as Phil Pressey, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk (25 points) wanted to make coach Brad Stevens proud. They are paid to play basketball, and the Celtics seem to appreciate and respect that. They may not be good, but they’re at least gonna try.

So 48 minutes remain in this disappointing season, as the Cavs close up shop Wednesday night against the same team they beat in the season opener in this building: The Brooklyn Nets.

Olynyk scores 25 as Celtics roll past Cavs 111-99

Back then, there seemed to be so much hope, so much promise, that this would be the season filled with fun things.

Oh, there has been some fun — but it is so very easy to forget in times like these.

Too many Cavs aren’t trying. Not playing your best and losing is one thing. Fans don’t like it, but they can live with it.

This, however, is just bad. It’s guys calling off work and playing hooky, and doing it in front of an arena full of people and a local television audience.

Nothing will change, as far as what is coming next, if the Cavs win or lose Wednesday. They still have a lot of work to do this summer regardless.