The Cleveland Cavaliers, a snake pit of internecine feuds, are playing like reheated slop at the moment, and tonight their on-court dysfunction reached a new, embarrassing nadir. Losing to a irrepressible Rockets by one million points on national TV is one thing, but getting owned by the Orlando Magic in the way the Cavs did tonight is much worse.
Cleveland played like a team under pressure to start to at least appear to give a whiff of a shit for exactly one quarter, a quarter in which they scored 43 points. They led by as many as 21 in the first half and had a 16-point lead at halftime. The Magic, who are actively trying to lose and were without Aaron Gordon, scored 41 in the third, then held Cleveland to nine in the fourth to run away with a blowout 116-98 win. Jonathon Simmons went nuts and dropped a career-high 34 points, which honestly says as much about the Cavaliers’ (mostly theoretical at this point) defense as it does about his shooting. Look at this shameful nonsense.
Cleveland is now fourth in the East (though they’ll leap back to third if the Wizards lose to Philly tonight), and they clearly look more excited for the trade deadline than stopping, uh, Khem Birch and Wesley Iwundu. Isaiah Thomas looks injured as hell, which is acutely worrisome given the small margin for error that his small stature affords him. Jae Crowder exists as more of a concept than a player, and the less said about Derrick Rose the better. It’s gotten to the point that Tyronn Lue, who left tonight’s game early, had to state that he thought his team would make the playoffs. They will, obviously, but it’s harder then ever before to believe that LeBron James can haul this particular pile of shit back into the Finals, especially since both the Celtics and the Raptors (who rocked Boston tonight) look orders of magnitude better and more engaged.