The Cavaliers have to know that after their latest stinking loss, 96-95 to Miami on Monday at The Q.
It came on “Fan Appreciation Night,” when Cavs fans do what they always do.
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They packed the building and went crazy in support of the home team — then left disappointed.
Oh, it should be noted the Heat didn’t even use their best guys, as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and other key members rested.
Instead, it was backup point guard Norris Cole who saved the day. Cole played at Cleveland State and stripped Kyrie Irving in the final seconds — proving you don’t always need James when it comes to former local athletes breaking the hearts of Clevelanders.
But the game was actually beside the point.
Things wouldn’t have been much different if the Cavs had escaped with a win. The issues are still there, and they appear to be swelling.
And the fans deserve better.
It’s been three years since James left. The first two years of suffering made sense. This has always been and always will be a players’ league. When the best player in the game bolts, you’re gonna stink.
Since then, Cavs general manager Chris Grant has freed cap space, compiled assets, landed young building blocks in Irving, Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.
That’s all grand, but it’s no longer enough.
To be fair, the Cavs had their share of injuries this season.
To be fair, the Cavs are awful young and most of their key veterans (C.J. Miles, Mareese Speights, Shaun Livingston and Wayne Ellington) are in their first year with the team.
To be fair, people who expected 30 wins this season really were kidding themselves.
That, friends, is about where being fair ends. No one cares about that stuff anymore.
Time to win some games. For gosh sakes, win some at home — where the Cavs finished a miserable 14-27.
For gosh sakes, finish somewhere other than last in the Central Division.
And please, can we stop talking about lottery picks?
Cavs fans are different than those in cities like Sacramento or Charlotte or our nation’s capital.
Cavs fans treat every game as if it’s a new chance at something magical. Cavs fans are always willing to give their team the benefit of the doubt.
Cavs fans believe in this franchise and the direction in which it’s headed. Now it’s time for the Cavs to pay them back.
Fans are clearly split on the status of coach Byron Scott. Some are for, some against, bringing Scott back for a fourth season. Both sides are plenty vocal.
Within the past few days, sources around the league have told FOX Sports Ohio that Scott is about to be fired. The Cavs, however, have not commented on or off the record.
Their final game is Wednesday at Charlotte, and any decision involving Scott is likely to be announced shortly after.
Those in support of Scott say he has had little to work with, particularly after injuries to Irving, Waiters and Anderson Varejao.
That is true.
Those against Scott point to the struggles on defense and repeated blown leads. They too have a point.
But what everyone needs to ask is, if the Cavs part ways with Scott … well, then what? Who is better, and is that person willing to come to Cleveland?
Could someone else have gotten more out of this banged-up and inexperienced bunch? Will the Cavs actually make progress with an entirely new voice that brings an entirely new philosophy? Was Scott really the biggest issue?
Perhaps we won’t know the answers until the Cavs hire someone else (if they really do). But what if the Cavs are wrong? What if it Scott is not to blame?
Where on earth would you go from there?
Ending the misery
No matter what the Cavs decide with Scott, here’s the bottom line: This has to end. They can’t continue to be a nightmare in April.
Grant has made some great moves and plucked some very nice talent out of the draft. It’d be hard to fault him in any of this.
But the team hasn’t displayed progress in terms of wins and losses. Sooner or later, that’s the only way to judge an organization.
When it comes to that, no one is blameless. That includes beloved owner Dan Gilbert. And there isn’t a fan in the building who wants to win more than that guy.
So, should we crucify Gilbert, Grant and Scott? Hardly.
Should they all be held accountable if this “process” doesn’t play out on the court next season? Without question.
That’s not the least bit harsh, either. That’s just life in pro sports, kids.
Losing gets old and it gets old fast — regardless of rebuilding plans, promising young talent or major decisions involving the head coach.
That is where the Cavs are today. They have to know that, and they had better get to work.