CHRIS GRANTLAND: 10 GAMES, NO ANSWERS

 

It was like watching a Browns game.  There were expectations.  Kyrie Irving’s return in a matchup of premier point guards, Byron Scott coaching against his former Eastern Conference Champion team, a chance for some revenge on Brook Lopez.  Former Cavs head coach Mike Fratello on the sidelines calling the game for the Nets YES network, probably fresh off a visit to his favorite Cleveland pizzeria Crostatas.  But unlike the margarita pie at Crostatas, and more like a cold afternoon at Cleveland Browns Stadium, last night there was letdown.  Historic letdown.

Sometimes there’s a comfort in reaching a low point.   That’s the good news ten games into this losing streak.   And if it hasn’t already, when that low point comes hopefully it’s going to come with that comfort.  Granted, they could stay at that low low point for a long goddamn time, but at least it’s probably not going to get any worse than this.

Because, on the other hand, what’s happening to this team right now is fucking horrifying.   On a night that was supposed to honor the team’s mascot, Moondog, 74 games into the season, coming into the game with the weight of a 9 game losing streak, down to the Brooklyn Nets by 30 at halftime, it was absolutely 0 defensive effort.  At one point Nets point guard Deron Williams literally Gangham Style danced his way through a non-defense all the way to the rim for his first slam dunk of the season.  And this effort was WITH both 2011 first round draft picks playing in the game, including Cleveland Cavaliers All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving. 

There’s a big picture out there about more lottery picks and not getting stuck in the middle of the pack, but it’s becoming harder and harder to see, mainly because the myopic view is so striking and so difficult to watch.   There’s a ridiculous amount of discipline required to avoid blasting the franchise for doing more to motivate players, to coach players and to accumulate talent.   That may be effort more wisely used by anyone who stuck it out to watch the pointless second half of this game turning the channel to watch the Tribe or finding out what time Chuck Ragan goes on tonight at the Grog Shop.

If you are still watching games at this point, it’s because you probably understand that it’s a long process and being in the middle of it is like being halfway though a drain pipe filled with shit smelling foulness I don’t even want to imagine.  You knew when you got into the drain pipe that it was going to be five football fields, so really all you can do is vomit and move on.

Most of the players on the team must have the self-awareness to understand that they are not part of the larger goals of the franchise.  Maybe even Byron Scott suspects that when and if the corner turns, he’s not staying on the train, that he’ll be replaced with someone with a better winning percentage, just so the organization can flip this ugly page in history.

Can’t blame the fans for being pissed off because the team didn’t meet what were very modest expectations, can’t blame the front office for following though with the plan they started two or three years ago.  Who’s left?  Luke Walton for not being talented enough? 

Who’s going to take the shitstorm of criticism for this losing streak now that JJ Hickson isn’t around?  Byron Scott, fair or unfair.  My guess is that he knew that when he signed up.   It’s not enough to develop Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson.  He has to keep himself and this group of players that know they may have no future with the franchise motivated enough to not lose 11 games in a row.  That’s a tough job and it’s Friday night against the Celtics in Boston.

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