Miami Heat (30-34) – 106
Cleveland Cavaliers (42-20) – 98
When I drudged through Saturday night’s Cleveland Cavaliers game against the Miami Heat, then drudged through writing Saturday night’s recap of the Cleveland Cavaliers game against the Miami Heat, then drudged through a mundane Monday at the Fun Factory (my cheerily ironic name for “work”), my saving salvation was that at least Monday night’s Cleveland Cavaliers game against the Miami Heat would be better than a kick in the teeth. I was wrong. No sense belaboring this intro, let’s look behind the box score and see what happened in this downer — and I promise that no more than 40 percent of this is copy-and-pasted from Saturday’s recap.
0:58 – Andrew Bogut’s Cleveland Cavalier career: 58 seconds, 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 assists, two personal fouls, one snapped leg. Because it’s unpleasant to watch and apparently Bogut’s broken tibia was apparently audible from the Cavalier bench, I’ll just have Bo Jackson provide us a (slightly) less nauseating reenactment of Bogut’s injury while simultaneously expressing my mood.
If it’s any consolation, the Andrew Bogut Era was still better than the Andrew Bynum Era for Cavalier fans. You’d have to be a monster or an inanimate object not to feel bad for Bogut. There may be a chance he plays another game in a Cavalier uniform, but who can say at this time. Anyway, I eagerly await the day Bogut returns to Quicken Loans Arena to have the most relevant moment of the remainder of his career with a 29-point game culminating in a garbage bank shot to win the game. I love when that happens.
The Andrew Bogut era is still superior to the Andrew Bynum era.
— Craig Lyndall (@WFNYCraig) March 7, 2017
-22 – The Cavaliers were had a plus/minus of +14 with LeBron James on the floor, which means the Cavs were [googles “how to do algebra,” learns algebra, drives to Staples, buys a calculator, scribbles an equation on a notepad, punches numbers into calculator, palms face] -22 when James was off the floor.
James finished the game with 30 points, a season-high 17 rebounds, and six assists. He could have done better than 6-of-10 on free throw attempts and took an ill-timed three when the Cavs were down five near the end of the game; but I would say he’s earned some discretionary authority. Monday was only the 11th 15-plus rebound game of James’ career, and only two off his career high.
It was clear early in the game that James and Irving were going to need to win this game themselves, and while James was up for it on Monday, Irving (11-of-25, plus/minus of -2) didn’t stabilize the non-LeBrons tonight.
106 – The Cavaliers allowed 106 points on Monday, which is … progress! I already talked about the Cavs’ defensive woes on Saturday, but let’s beat this dead horse. One hundred six points in less than 100 possessions means the Cavs’ defensive efficiency was 109.1, worse than their already not-good 22nd-ranked defensive rating of 107.3. Mostly everyone was bad: Kyrie Irving was bad, Kyle Korver was bad, Deron Williams was bad, Iman Shumpert was bad in the first half, Channing Frye was really bad, and LeBron James was OK (good in the fourth quarter). Poor defense is acceptable against the likes of Goran Dragic, an All-Star caliber player who is fun to watch, skilled, shifty, smart, and an assassin in the pick-and-roll. But this next guy, on the other hand … .
29 – Scrappy-Doo/Dion Waiters finished with 29 points on 12-of-24 shooting, with 5-of-9 on three-point attempts. He hit a few contested shots (6-of-16), but made 6-of-8 uncontested shots, and was largely allowed to roam around with impunity in the first half (when he scored a career-high 24 of his 29 points on 10-of-12 shooting). Then, after regressing to the Dion Cavs fans knew from 2012-15 in the second half (2-of-12), Dion banked in a three to close the game.
It was possibly the best game Waiters ever played in Quicken Loans Arena, and only the third game in Cleveland in which he scored more than 25 points. If only Waiters would have been as excited to play in Cleveland for non-spite reasons in 2014, then he would likely have a championship. Here’s an excerpt from my “Ode To Knuckleheads” that I composed for Waiters upon his departure. Au revoir, Dion! To one of the least self-aware athletes we’ve seen!
He was far from perfect, on D he could sag.
But when the J was on, it tasted like swag.
He was our knucklehead, he was our Dion.
But Griffin traded him, and then poof! he was gone!
With him went heart, great game and great fun,
Hellacious dunks, unprovoked shouts of “And one!,”
Defender crumplers, dagger jumpers,
Backboard thumpers and crowd re-pumpers,
Forever gone from deep in Q,
Of ye I hardly knew.
How much you’ll be missed, with words I can’t tell.
Thanks for the memories D, a most fond farewell.
34 – The Heat made 34 three-pointers against the Cavs over the last two games, shooting 49.3 percent on 69 threes despite shooting a mediocre 36.5 percent throughout the season. Former Cavalier Wayne Ellington, who heaped on another dish of revenge to go with Waiters’, shot 5-of-10 from deep and looked more like Kyle Korver than Kyle Korver — running around screen after screen, harassing Cavalier defenders, and knocking down open shots with the purity of freshly fallen snow.
17 – The Cavaliers had 17 turnovers, a big figure in what continues to be the most startling and counterproductive aspect for them on that side of the ball. Games in which the Cavaliers have less than 15 turnovers, they’re golden (30-5, .857 win percentage); when the Cavaliers have 15 or more turnovers, they’re a dark ugly color normally associated with another local team (12-15, .444 win percentage). There was no primary suspect on Monday … just a generalized sloppiness. We can blame the turnover issues on disrupted continuity due to injures and new teammates if you want to.
2-4 – The Cavaliers are quietly 2-4 over the last six games. Coincidentally, they’ve also been held under 100 points in four of those six games (0-4). This is fairly concerning. The Cavs look like great front-runners right now, but don’t know how to react when their shots aren’t falling. The Cavs lost at home on Monday with a 9-of-12 road game stretch looming. Meanwhile, the Miami Heat have won 19 of their last 23 games, and have thoroughly outplayed and outworked the Cavaliers since the middle of January. The Heat are 1.5 games out of the No. 8 seed in the East. The Cavaliers should beat them in a legitimate playoff series, but that’s a dance with fate I’d rather not shuffle my feet to.