The Cleveland Cavaliers were beating the Miami Heat by six points after the first quarter on Saturday night. Miami went on to win the next three periods by 17, however, and handed Cleveland its 11th loss of the season. LeBron James led the Heat in scoring with more points (28) than the Cavaliers starting lineup managed to score as a collective unit (26).
Kyrie Irving went 6-of-19 for 16 points and missed all five of his three-point field goal attempts. He also combined with Jarrett Jack to commit nine turnovers. The Cavs were dominated in points in the paint, 50-28, despite a failed effort to feed Andrew Bynum in the post throughout the game. They also finished with only four fastbreak points as compare to 17 for Miami.
Beyond all that, below are the five things that I thought about the most after the game.
Mike Brown referenced Kyrie Irving's field-goal percentage dating back to the All-Star break last season during his postgame press conference. That number is 41 percent, he said. According to HoopData.com, 41 percent is 4.4 percent below the league average (45.4 percent). This reminded me as I sat there listening that Irving shot 36.1 percent during his last 10 games under Byron Scott. So he wasn't shooting well for a while, I suppose, before he started shooting 40.4 percent through 15 games under Brown.
Dion Waiters called trade reports "nonsense" before the game. He then came off the bench to finish with two points less (24) than the Cavs starting lineup (26). He also outscored the player who started over him by 24 points. After the game, however, Waiters wasn't concerned with scoring. "It's not about who scores," he said. "The biggest thing we need to do is have each other's back." He also added that, "We need to come out with this same intensity we did tonight every night, we can't just have it when we play teams like Miami."
It's hard to watch Mike Brown's rotation right now and feel like he's on the same page with Chris Grant. He could very well be, I have no inside knowledge one way or another. But the player Grant picked first overall in the NBA draft racked up another DNP-CD last night. Brown said before the game that Anthony Bennett has had some good practices lately but not good enough to earn minutes over Earl Clark. Meanwhile, an undrafted free-agent rookie from St. Mary's started again over another player Grant picked fourth overall in the draft before. The same guy who also has the ability to score 24 points in an NBA game against the Miami Heat.
Anderson Varejao has looked like 10 seasons of launching his 31-year-old body all over the NBA hardwood has finally taken its toll throughout these first 15 games. If you can package Varejao in a trade this season to get anything of value in return you'd have to think long and hard about pulling that trigger. He used 10 shots to score 10 points against Miami. He also looked a step behind everyone else on the court if I'm being honest about it.
There are no moral victories to take from this loss. None. The Cavaliers needed to actually win in order to use their opportunity against the Heat to jumpstart their woeful season. The Cavs did play a bit harder than they usually do but they still lost by double-digits. That's not good. Nor is a 4-11 record. They can still rattle off six-straight wins at any time and make a season of this thing, but they'll need to get that streak started shortly. Even though they're technically only two games behind the Detroit Pistons for the No. 8 seed in the
Mountain West Eastern Conference.