Random thoughts from the Cavaliers’ 108-83 home loss to Phoenix on Sunday:
1. Not sure if the Cavs think visiting teams are going to show up and mail it in, but too many of their performances at The Q fall into the unacceptable category.
2. This season, the Cavs have been throttled at home by Chicago, Miami, Philadelphia, Atlanta and, now, Phoenix. They’ve also lost home games to non-playoff opponents New Jersey, Golden State, New Orleans and Toronto (twice).
3. What makes it even more maddening is the Cavs have played fairly well on the road. In so many instances, they’ve looked more focused and determined in road games.
4. The Cavs are 9-15 at The Q and 8-14 on the road (17-29 overall). And don’t try to find reasons why, because neither coach Byron Scott nor the players seem to know. All they know is this is no way to go through life in the NBA.
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5. Rookie point guard Kyrie Irving did give a hint Sunday when he said, “We’re just not together out there.”
6. Irving is hardly to blame, as he’s the one guy who really keeps the ball moving and always plays with a purpose. He finished with team highs in points (16) and assists (four of the Cavs’ paltry 17, compared to the Suns’ 31).
7. The Cavs have two major issues that everyone can see: First, when opposing teams swing the ball, Cleveland just doesn’t have the athletes to challenge shots on the perimeter. This also pulls the Cavs’ big men away from the paint to help, leading to lots of easy baskets inside. Basically, they’re getting killed when it comes to defending people.
8. Secondly, besides Irving, name another natural scorer on the Cavs roster. Antawn Jamison was a true threat in his prime, and there’s no question he can still put up points at age 35. But he’s now more of a volume shooter out of necessity. If Jamison is misfiring, well, you have games like Sunday.
9. Jamison had a nightmare of an afternoon, with more fouls (three) than points (two). Jamison finished 1-for-8 shooting (including 0-for-5 on 3-pointers), with one rebound and no assists. On top of all that, he tweaked his ankle midway through the first quarter. Surely, that had something to do with it.
10. On a positive note, Luke Walton played his first game as a Cav since coming from the Lakers in the Ramon Sessions trade. Walton looked comfortable, shooting 3-for-4 for seven points and burying his lone 3-pointer.
11. I didn’t attend the game, but I did watch and listen and the radio. One thing that stood out to me was a comment by radio analyst Jim Chones, who said the Cavs “just don’t have the personnel.”
12. Chones wasn’t trashing anyone; he as merely stating the obvious. The Cavs’ biggest reasons for hope (Irving, Tristan Thompson, Alonzo Gee) are in their first or second seasons. Of the three, only Irving is consistent. Even Scott said, “We are just not a very good team right now.”
13. So the Cavs will be back in the draft lottery, as well as a pick in the 20s they got from the Lakers. The Cavs need a center and a shooting guard, but if I’m general manager Chris Grant, I’m going after the two most explosive scorers, regardless of position.
14. Interestingly, the Suns have managed to get hot and make a real run at the playoffs. Remember, this is a team the Cavs beat on the road (surprise, surprise) earlier this season. But the Suns are 11-4 since the All-Star break and just can’t seem to miss.
15. As Chones also pointed out, every point guard in the league could learn a lot from Suns veteran Steve Nash. He’s always aware of his surroundings, where his teammates are positioned and precisely when and where they need the ball. Nash took only two shots Sunday, making both for four points. But he finished with 13 assists — and, at 38, he leads the league in that category with an 11.2 average. Remarkable.
16. The Suns are in an interesting place. Arguably their two top players, Nash and small forward Grant Hill (39) are aging. So it probably wouldn’t hurt the franchise to get back into the lottery. Especially when you consider Nash and Hill are free agents at season’s end and would be tough to replace. Still, it seems as if the Suns are serious about the postseason, having won six of eight and suddenly in the thick of things.
17. Finally, back to the Cavs. Irritating losses like this (and even their surprising wins) are all part of the process. Fans must be patient. As exciting as the season has occasionally been this season, things are likely to be better next year. Try to remember that.