The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 115-107 defeat at the hands of the Washington Wizards last Friday was their 60th loss in 75 games and their 32nd road loss in 37 road games. Included in those depressing numbers is a 26-game losing streak, which represented the longest such streak in NBA history. Those numbers are a far cry from the 61 victories they amassed just one year earlier, and to say this has been a long season for the Cavs would be an understatement of epic proportions.
The reasons for Cleveland’s futility are well-documented. Big Bad LeBron James took his talents away from the Cavaliers and bolted for Miami, as did Zydrunas Illgauskas. Delonte West was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Ryan Hollins, Ramon Sessions and a first round draft pick. Anderson Varejao has not played a game since January 5 of this year because of a torn tendon in his ankle, and Antawn Jamison’s season also ended prematurely with a broken finger. Mo Williams, arguably the second-best player on the team after LeBron last year, and the best player on the Cavs entering this season, was traded along with Jamario Moon to the LA Clippers on February 24. In return, the Cavaliers received Baron Davis and a draft pick. The lack of continuity has just been just too much to overcome.
Due to injuries, trades, and flat-out inexperience, the Wizards have had similar frustrations during this 2010-2011 season. But the play of John Wall, Nick Young, Jordan Crawford, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche (at times), has given everyone from Wizards fans to owner Ted Leonsis some hope for the future. The Cavaliers have also had occasional bright spots with an opening day victory over the Boston Celtics and a victory right before the All-Star Break over the defending champion Lakers. Perhaps the biggest moment of the year came last week when the Cavaliers defeated LeBron and the Heat 102-90 in Cleveland — Miami defeated the Cavaliers 118-90 back on December 2; LeBron destroyed his old team in his first return to Ohio by scoring 38 points in just three quarters.
Still, in a season full of losses and frustration, it would seem to be a difficult task for the Cavaliers to think positive, encouraging thoughts. I asked head coach Byron Scott, Ramon Sessions and J.J. Hickson what, if any, positives could be taken out of a season that has gone this badly.
“I think all of our young guys have gotten better. That’s something we talked about from Day One, that this is going to be a process as well. These guys have hung in there all season long. We have a good group of guys. That’s something that’s very positive about this organization. You know, I think the future is bright with four picks coming up in the draft, we feel pretty good about where we are and what we can do. We’re looking forward to it.”