The Cavs got their asses kicked inside-out by the terrible, terrible Pistons last night, 103-80, in Cleveland. They're 18-12 on the season, 5-5 in their last 10 games, fifth in the woeful Eastern Conference. They stink.
Kyrie Irving sat out the game with a sprained knee, and you likely already know that the Cavs have lost center Anderson Varejao for the season. So, yeah, they were shorthanded; they still had LeBron goddamn James, Kevin fucking Love, and an 11-point lead after the first quarter. That's supposed to be enough! Even if the other three guys on the court for the Cavs were Moe, Larry, and Shemp, man, that's supposed to be enough.
Instead, the Pistons, recently relieved of the human drain-clog known as Josh Smith, flushed a franchise-record 17 threes, won the last three quarters by 34 points, and sent the Cavs scurrying into a fourth-quarter timeout under a hail of well-earned boos. Look at this shit:
A few of those are tough shots. A much larger number feature Mike Miller (or some other hapless Cav, but usually Mike Miller) sprinting like hell to closeout on a shooter who's open by 10 feet. What in the hell are the Cavs doing. They do not know.
All that sagging help defense didn't do them any good against Andre Drummond, either. He did whatever he wanted under the rim at both ends and spent most of the night looking like Paul Bunyan casually batting away a swarm of inept Keebler elves. The exclamation mark was this grisly fourth-quarter block of a little runner by LeBron (yeah, it probably could have been called goaltending, but whatever):
If the sight of days-from-his-30th-birthday LeBron James getting angled and bodied into a hopeless little flailing runner by Kyle fucking Singler—because he could neither drive by him, nor muscle him under the hoop, nor counter back toward the middle and dunk his ass into an early grave—made you lurchingly aware of the cosmic transience and humble fate of all the things that once filled us with wonder, including wonder itself, I hear Kohl's is having a sale on black turtlenecks.
"We're not a very good team, as far as on the court," LeBron said afterward, possibly comforting Cleveland fans with the knowledge that the Cavs are a very good team, like, at a restaurant, or in a house, or with a mouse, or whatever. "Right now we're just not very good in every aspect of the game that we need to be to compete every night." That's a good take by LeBron; better by orders of magnitude than the one Andre Drummond deposited in the stands, anyway.
Back in 2010, basketball observers gleefully rushed to diagnose the Heat's early-season struggles as a broader incompatibility or pervasive shittiness; Miami went on to play in the Finals in each of LeBron's seasons there, and we've all been chastened by it. So now, analysis of these shitty Cavs and their underwhelming start always comes with an explicit or implicit "... so far." They're shitty so far; they don't have an identity yet; when will they figure things out? The given here is that they will get it together at some point, or at least that if they do, nobody will want to be the guy who predicted they wouldn't.
Fine. OK. Maybe they will sort things out; maybe their coach will stop having them overextend themselves in all directions on defense; maybe he'll figure out how to use Kevin Love, who so far has resembled nothing so much as a vastly more expensive version of Jud Buechler; maybe LeBron will go back to being the player we knew him to be, back when he scattered defenders before him like terrified skiers fleeing an avalanche; maybe they will play in the next four Finals.
Who knows. And, right now, who cares? Right now, they stink. They're bad basketball and worse TV. Boooooooo.
Photo via Getty