From the Department of “You’re Going the Wrong Way!” guess which Cleveland team owns this log for its season so far: Lost 6, won 1, lost 5, won 1, lost 3, won 2 (!), lost 4, won 1, lost 2, won 1, lost 2, won 1, lost 1, won 1, lost 12.
Go ahead, take a guess. I’ll wait.
Give up? It’s the Cavs! Post-LeBron.
And they’re not even tanking! This is them. Imagine if they were tanking. But they’re not. This is all they’ve got. Add it up and it’s 8-35. In other words, the Cavs could win their next 26 games in a row and they’d still have a losing record.
They are 8-35. But to be fair, the last 12 losses have come in a row. Prior to that little slump they were a much-more respectable 8-23. Today they are a much-less respectable 8-35. That’s a winning percentage of .186.
The worst winning percentage in Cavs history is .183, by the 1970-71 team — the first season of the Cavs’ existence — and the 1981-82 team, which put a tattered bow on its season by losing the last 19 games in a row.
Both those Cavs teams went 15-67. The current Cavs are 8-35, so it’s a horse race — “And down the stretch they come!”
Through 43 games this season the Cavs are 8-35. Through 43 games in 1970-71 the Cavs were 5-38, and the 1981-82 Cavs were 9-34. So, yes, Mr. and Mrs. Moondog, you may be witnessing history.
Not even the 2002-03 Cavs, the team before LeBron showed up, nor the 2010-11 team, the first season after he left, were as bad as the Cavs this season. The 2002-03 Cavs went 17-65 (.207), while the 2010-11 team went 19-63 (.232).
So with the Cavs playing at a .186 clip, there is a very real possibility that this edition of the team may go down in infamy. Because if you have a winning percentage of .186, you also have a losing percentage of .814. I’m no Gregg Popovich, but I don’t think that’s very good.
Here’s what is good. Well, maybe not good, but weird: three of the Cavs’ eight wins have come against three of the best teams in the league: Philadelphia, Houston and Indiana. Go figure! The Cavs actually beat the Sixers and Rockets in the span of 24 hours, on Nov. 23 and 24. Currently the Cavs haven’t won a game in 288 hours.
In those wins over Philly and Houston, the Cavs must have left it all on the floor, because since then they are 4-21 (.160). Their longest winning streak this season is two games. Their second-longest winning streak is one game, done six times. They have no third-longest winning streak.
Most of their games range from bad to difficult-to-watch. The last two losses, to New Orleans and Houston, fell into the latter category. The Cavs averaged 118 points per game in the two games — the league’s highest scoring team, the Warriors, average 117 points per game — but the Cavs were still blown out in both games.
Why? Because they gave up an average of 140.5 points per game, which is more than 30 points higher than the league average. The Pelicans scored 100 points in the first three quarters. The Rockets scored 113 points in the first three quarters. James Harden had a triple-double and didn’t play at all in the fourth quarter.
Simply put, the Cavs can’t guard anyone. Opposing teams have a .493 field goal percentage against Cleveland. That’s 10 points worse than any other NBA team. No team gives up more dunks or layups than the Cavs. In some games it seems like that’s all they give up.
Part of it is injuries. Part of it is the roster, about one-third of which is a revolving door of fringe NBA players. Part of it is a result of the seemingly endless run of blowout losses that would deflate the morale of any team. But the biggest part of it is that minor little detail that LeBron is no longer on the team.
His MVP case this year is best made by looking at what he left behind. The team LeBron took to the Finals last year might be, this year without him, the worst Cavs team in history. The Cavs won more games in the first three rounds of the playoffs last season (12) than they’ve won in 43 games this year.
The wins aren’t going to come, but I do have a suggestion for making the games more watchable:
Bring back J.R. Smith!
What’s the worst that could happen? It’s already happened. LeBron left, and the games are unwatchable. At this point the Cavs and their fans could use some laughs and some buckets.
Who cares if J.R. forgets the score again? These days we’re all trying to forget the Cavs’ scores.