The Cavaliers may have only lost by nine points, but this really was just 48 minutes of garbage time. That's the best way to explain their 105-96 defeat to the visiting Golden State Warriors on Sunday.
Yes, this game was at home. Yes, the Warriors were ending a five-game road swing. And yes, the Cavs should have been well-rested, considering they hadn't played since Thursday's win over the Lakers.
But everything you thought about this game going into it ... well, the opposite happened.
Even Warriors coach Don Nelson was surprised. "I would have predicted that we could have won (Saturday at New Jersey), and gotten beat in this one," Nelson said afterward. "Shows what I know."
Actually, when it comes to the Cavs, everyone is confused. In this game, they came out flat, looked lost on defense and couldn't shoot straight. It's almost like they thought it was a scrimmage.
During timeouts, coach Mike Brown begged the players to start contesting shots on defense. Instead, they were often out of position and looked like they had weights tied around their ankles -- as the Warriors buried jump shots and cut to the basket for easy scores.
The worst part of all of this is the Cavs look like a team that may NEVER get its act together. That might be easier to understand if they had made some trades, hired a new coach, or had guys out with injuries. But this is the same team with the same guys who reached the Finals this year.
Have they learned anything since then? It sure doesn't look like it.
Hopefully they understand this much: Nbody cares what they did last year. If anything, winning the Eastern Conference only makes teams more motivated to beat them.
The players will tell you that is common knowledge. But they sure haven't played like it.
And if this basketball jekyll-and-hyde routine continues, Cavs general manager Danny Ferry may seriously want to consider making a move (if he's not already). That won't be easy, as the team is already over the salary cap.
Mostly, you can only hope the guys already on the team would just take a stand, listen to their coach, and quit relying so much on their superstar. Until that happens, we'll see more games like Sunday -- and this team will end up going nowhere.
BROWN MIFFED AGAIN
For what seems like the 100th time this season, Brown talked about his team's lack of fire after the game.
"Defensively, we're going through the motions," he said. "Last year, I thought we played with more energy, more passion. Right now, at times we've come out flat and dig ourselves a hole. When you dig yourselves a hole at this level, it's tough to get out of."
EGAN HAS SURGERY
Cavs assistant coach Hank Egan underwent heart bypass surgery on Saturday. He is said to be doing well.
Egan was Mike Brown's coach when Brown was a player at the University of San Diego, and has been with the Cavs since Brown took over.
"Hopefully, he can get back here soon," James said of Egan. "He's been around the game so long, and if you ever need to talk about something, he is there."