The Cavaliers have lost seven of their last eight games, including their fourth in a row on Tuesday in Philly. If you didn’t watch that game last night, and even went so far as watching Cupcake Wars or something like that instead, I’m actually happy for you. You’re better off. As are the Cavs better off too for going on this well-timed slide to end the season. What they needed to accomplish this year as a team and organization out on the floor has been accomplished. Now, for the last nineteen games of this year, no need to be a hero out there you guys.
I hate tanking, I don’t like anything about it, and I think that rooting for ping pong balls is shortsighted and cliche’. But…at the same time…I’m not terribly excited about drafting Cody Zeller at eight or nine either, which is why I’m glad the Cavaliers are naturally tanking right now. While I hate preconceived on-court tanking, I’m totally cool with natural tanking. It happens sometimes, especially when a team plays over their heads for a while, wins games they shouldn’t, comes back in the 4th quarter a lot, and then has nothing left to close out the season. Which is specifically the case for the Cavs right now, and I’m totally good with all that.
They aren’t trying to lose specifically, they’re just totally gassed at just the right time. Playoffs well out of reach, nothing more to prove. They’ve hit the rookie wall, whole team wall, whatever wall you want to say, they just look collectively done out there. This after playing both hard and well for the first half of the season, and maybe a little more than that. They were always willing to make that late push on a nightly basis, they beat some teams like the Mavericks and Celtics they had no business beating, and did some overachieiving to be sure. If Anderson Varejao doesn’t get hurt, the Cavaliers are probably in the playoffs as the 8th seed, or at least in the race right now. But that doesn’t matter.
What matters this season is that the Cavaliers proved Kyrie Irving is a superstar-type player. They proved the Tristan Thompson pick was correct, and they proved they’re moving in the right direction under Byron Scott. Chris Grant also added a first round pick without dealing Varejao, and the future looks really bright around here. So I’m saying I think they’ll lose tonight to the Pistons, probably lose on Friday to the Bucks as well, and it might be ugly for the next few weeks. But on April 26th, less than one month away, the season is over, and a whole new day begins.
In the months to follow, the Cavaliers just might find themselves drafting significantly higher than we might’ve thought they could three weeks ago. And if they do, they got there the best way possible. The natural way. The NBA gods traditionally reward natural tanking too, and they don’t much care for the other kind.