Cavaliers’ latest collapse leads to fan consternation

cavs-kidThe Cleveland sports scene has managed to take an otherwise unifying bond and turned it into a polarizing chasm of considerable proportions. As fans of the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers, Clevelanders experience every bump, every The, together—we celebrate the occasional win, and collectively grieve through the latest loss. But as the Browns offseason wraps up and the Indians’ regular season just begins, it is the Cavaliers who have provided the most hand-wringing and polarization.

While it can be reasonably assumed that all Cavalier fans have an identical ultimate goal, the avenue best taken can be debated. As the NBA Draft nears, fans can discuss who would be the best piece for Chris Grant to add to the puzzle. But as the losses pile up—many of which have been after 20-point leads—the Cavaliers are forcing fans to take sides, each one feeling that they are fighting for the greater good.

On one side, you have the patient, oftentimes masochistic group. They claim that losses are all a part of the plan.That rebuilding takes time and that losing is the only way for a small- or mid-market team to improve and do so with consistency. That Byron Scott was brought in, knowing full well that—regardless of outcome—he would have three seasons to get this Cavaliers team back on track. They see a coach who, despite a perception of being too passive, is a leader of men who has a track record of reclamation. They see improvement in Kyrie Irving’s mid-range game; in Tristan Thompson’s post moves; in Dion Waiters’ maturity; and in Tyler Zeller’s confidence.

Clear on the other side, you have a faction that is done losing. They want to see wins immediately, even if said wins lead to a worse draft position. They’re sick of hearing about a “winning culture.” They feel that there has been little improvement in key players; Kyrie Irving is still a dreadful defender, Dion Waiters has poor shot selection. They are not listening about injuries as this team was sub-par before Anderson Varejao went down for the seasonn—if anything, the players have shown more heart when backed into a corner. They want accountability and demand that players and or coaches be relieved of their duties. No excuses to be had. Poor game management, poor rotations, a poor team that needs to be blown up immediately.

Statistics can tell both sides of the story. The eye test does the same, depending on what games get cherry picked. Regardless, fans are left to lob passive-aggressive tweets at one another as the entire base watches their Titanic slowly disappear into the horizon.

Without knowing what goes on behind closed doors—who are the leaders? Is this legitimate tanking?—it is difficult to pin any sort of certainty on either side. Having now blown four games with at least a 20-point cushion late in each respective contest, it seems that this team is either really good at showing what they can do when desired, but also that they can’t finish the jobs they start. While it can be attributed to youth, there are times when the Cavaliers collapse despite having veteran players like Luke Walton, Shaun Livingston, Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights on the floor. Then again, it can be said that having those four players on the floor could be the reason why the Cavaliers cannot hold onto leads against formidable opponents.

While the debates range, what can be universally accepted is the fact that the 2012-13 season has been frustrating for every fan. Just when the team shows a glimpse of respectability, it throws every ounce of support back into the face of even the most devout. There is no telling what the immediate future holds for Byron Scott or any of the impending free agents.  Ask two Cavalier fans on what they believe should happen and you could easily find yourself receiving two completely different answers.

The entire scope can be boiled down to a miserable, niche version of ESPN’s First Take. Wait it out. Start over. Look at the development. What development? The locker room is lost. Listen to Tristan Thompson. Where’s Dan Gilbert? What good are votes of confidence? The Cavaliers can’t buy a call. It shouldn’t come down to one play. What about the injuries? Look at the record before they occurred. Byron needs more talented players. Other teams are doing more with less. We’re the next Oklahoma City! We’re the next Sacramento. The model is broken. Next year is our year…

Rather than coping together, Cleveland fans have decided that it’s a matter of right-versus-wrong. The pitchforks and torches versus the shills and the blind. The only thing that appears to be able to bring the unity back to this fan base is winning. Until that happens, it appears that lines will be drawn, debates will be had and everyone will go home knowing they deserve better, whatever the means may be.


AP Photo/Mark Duncan

  • Vindictive_Pat

    Cavs’ defense = dumpster fire. If Byron Scott wants to save his neck, he’d better bring in an assistant during the offseason who knows how to coach D… the young guys just ain’t gettin’ it and the vets aren’t a ton better.

  • mgbode

    I didn’t bother watching the Cavs collapse, but I did watch the Lakers game (vs. NO). They were playing defense (no, really, they were). Gasol was throwing lobs to Dwight. Kobe played 40min. If it wasn’t for Eric Gordon’s ability to get into the lane with ease (wish his knees were intact, he’s a fun guy to watch), then it would have been a blowout.

    Lakers 0.5 games up on Utah.

    Lakers 4 games left.
    Utah 3 games left.

    Cavs have a 14 spot upgrade in the draft riding on it.

  • I feel like I am somewhere in between the two groups. Last night, I was almost actively rooting for a loss, because it meant a huge potential jump in the draft position, but at the same time.. I would like to see something positive.. anything that is encouraging. Outside of Kyrie being really really good (but possibly still injury prone?) there’s not much. Like Vindictive_Pat said below.. the defense is a dumpster fire. I can’t see two first round picks, no matter where they are, turning this team around because we seem so so far off.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Yea Mike Brown what are you up to? ;o)

  • co811809

    that would be hilarious. he is moving back to the area

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Brown then LBJ, kumbaya!

  • Harv 21

    Don’t consider myself in either of your two groups. I don’t give a fig about the number of wins this year. One of my fav Indians teams was the 1992 group, which finished was well below .500. That was because you could see the potential and competitiveness emerging.

    It’s not about the wins. It’s about the clear lack of effort that you can’t snort away as a product of youth or lack of talent. This is not Byron’s finest coaching gig, whether because he’s not a great teacher of fundamentals, he doesn’t command the respect of those now too young to have seem him play, his eye has been on upcoming better gigs, or whatever. I wanted him to show they’re learning but the more tune-outs I see the more I think the modest individual improvement in some players could have occurred under Randy Wittman or anyone else. Moreover, once you lose the team’s ear, once your star stops listening, I’m not sure you can get them back.

    Desperately hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. And as we’ve seen before, if keeping him would be displeasing to the one guy they need to re-sign, he’s already gone.

  • dwhit110

    What’s worrisome is that we need the Lakeshow to finish a game up on Utah, because the Jazz have the tiebreaker. Gotta hope Memphis takes care of business against them in the final game of the season.

  • mgbode

    thankfully, the ball is still in the Laker’s court on that one. 1/2 game lead and 1 more game than Utah. so, it’s up to LAL (they win all 4 and they are in but any loss needs to be matched with a Utah loss).

    Here is the schedule:

    Portland – clearly tanking, but it’s at the Rose Garden

    GS – will be traveling on 2nd night of back-to-back with OKC the 1st night. tough spot for them and they’ve been playing uneven lately. Fighting Houston for the very-important 6th seed in the West (avoid OKC & SA).

    SA – at Staples, undermanned, but fighting OKC for the 1seed. Funny part is that if they do lose to LAL, then they might be setting up a 1st round OKC v. LAL matchup.

    Houston – as noted, fighting GS for 6seed. at Staples. hopefully, things are wrapped up for them and they can rest starters here.

  • BenRM

    I am not in the fire Byron camp. But I am also in the “I don’t think he’s a very good coach” camp now. This. just. doesn’t. keep. happening.

    Losing a small lead is simply emblematic of a bad team. Losing a 20+ point lead once in a while is a “wtf” moment. Losing 20 point leads with regularity is a massive, giant, big, and huge red flag.

  • Vindictive_Pat

    You kid but this would be tremendous if it happened. Whatever faults Mike Brown had, it wasn’t as an assistant coach who taught defense.

  • Jaker

    Go Browns

  • Haha I have used that picture so many times over the years. Just perfect.

  • Natedawg86

    I hate rooting for the LAL. I went to bed when they were down 11 in the second. Woke up this morning to see they pulled it off. Hoping that Utah loses to Minnesota one of the next two games (great scheduling NBA! Really?!?!) Gonna be a big Friday.

  • mgbode

    honestly, I am enjoying rooting for LAL. Kobe is doing everything and it is taking everything he has just to squeak LAL into getting into position for the 8seed.

    so, I’m cheering for them to get the 8seed, so that either OKC or SAS can absolutely destroy them in round1. it’s like cheering for a marathon runner to finish knowing there’s a guillotine at the finish line with his name on it.

  • Natedawg86

    Any other season I would be rooting for them to fail. I think not making the playoffs is more of a slap in the face than getting burned in 4-5 games.