Only in Cleveland would a basketball team have arguably one of their best games of the season and end their playoff hopes on the same night.
On Wednesday, the Cleveland Cavaliers were clicking on all cylinders during a 122 to 100 victory over the Detroit Pistons. The Cavs set a franchise record and season high around the NBA for assists in a half with 26. The team led by rookie guard Matthew Dellavedova’s 12 assists, finished with 41 assists overall.
Despite the Cavs playing a great game, they were ultimately eliminated from the playoffs when the Atlanta Hawks won later that night. The Cavs, who have not made the playoffs since the 2009-2010 season, set a goal at the beginning of the year to finally make the playoffs. Although the Cavs will miss the playoffs for the fourth year in a row, they recorded their best record in the last four years.
In my opinion, the Cavs have a roster talented enough to make the playoffs. So what held them back from reaching the playoffs?
The main reason is how long it took the players to figure out their individual roles and come together as a team. The Cavs dug themselves into too deep of a hole at the beginning of the season. Players were too focused on putting up big numbers rather than playing as a team. Once individuals figured out their roles, the team started winning. The only problem was this happened way too late in the season.
The second reason is the lack of offense. Head Coach Mike Brown is known for being a defensive minded coach. Brown was unable to implement a successful offense. A lot of the times one player, mostly point guard Kyrie Irving, handles the ball while others stand around and watch. This led to an inconsistent offense all season long.
Another problem for the Cavs all season long was injuries. The Cavs could never catch a break in this department. It seemed like every time one player would come back into the lineup, another got hurt. These injuries are constantly happening to key players. In the past couple seasons, both Irving and veteran center Anderson Varejao have not been able to complete a full season.
Lastly, I believe the intense negative attention surrounding the team all season long impacted their play. The Cavs first had to deal with reports of fighting in the locker room. Then they had to suspend and trade center Andrew Bynum for being detrimental to the team. Bynum admitted to throwing up half court shots during the middle of practices. Earlier this month, Irving had to take to social media to address reports of him wanting out of Cleveland. The last thing a young team needs is internal problems being leaked outside locker room. I think the young players on the team let the media get inside their heads and hurt their play.
The Cavs need to fix some of these key issues before they can become a playoff team. They are getting closer to their goal, but still have questions to be answered this offseason.