There’s really no way around it: The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 132-98 home loss to Golden State last Monday cost David Blatt his job. It didn’t matter that Cleveland responded with 13-point wins over the Nets and Clippers later in the week. If you trail by 43 points and lose by 34 – at home, no less – to a team that you will likely face in the Finals, there will be consequences, and for Blatt, there were.
“It was a horrible basketball game by a team that preached the whole time that they were ready to take them on – and (they) weren’t ready,” Cleveland’s 92.3 The Fan host Ken Carman said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “It was a horrible game and they looked tight. They looked like they were afraid of Golden State. That was one of the most demoralizing things about that loss. They went on and they won a couple of games. I never had the feeling that they would really fire him, but oddly enough, it wasn’t a surprise after that game – just because you had Ty Lue on the bench. After that game against Golden State, it was just, ‘God, this is trash, and you need to flush this thing down the toilet and move on.’”
The Cavaliers are 30-12 entering Monday and have a two-game lead over Toronto (29-15) for the No. 1 spot in the East. Still, Cavs management isn’t happy with the way Cleveland has been winning games, often needing LeBron James to take over in the fourth quarter.
“They’re not moving the ball the way they want to, and they press against (Golden State and San Antonio),” Carman said. “The Cavaliers are a really talented basketball team, but they’re just not playing like it – and when you play really talented basketball teams like San Antonio and Golden State, they basically rub your nose in it because they play loose. They play the way they’re supposed to. And the Cavs really just – at least this season – haven’t found their niche, which we thought they really would.”
There are reports that Cleveland may try to trade Kevin Love, who signed a five-year, $110-million contract last summer, but Carman doesn’t see it happening.
“Who are you going to trade him to?” Carman asked. “Unless you get a third team involved, I don’t know a team that’s going to take on that salary, and I don’t know if you’re going go get a commensurate player back. So you’re basically stuck with what you have. And J.R. can be night and day, but that’s part of what they have.”
The Cavaliers lost at home to the Bulls, 96-83, in Tyronn Lue’s head-coaching debut Saturday, this after shooting just 37.2 percent from the floor, 16.7 percent from three (4-of-24) and 40.9 percent from the foul line (9-of-22). It was a rough start for Lue, but Carman believes the 38-year-old has the respect of the locker room – something that wasn’t always certain with Blatt.
“We heard David was a little bit afraid to criticize guys,” Carman said, “whereas Tyronn Lue has been a player in the NBA. He’s played with Kobe and he’s maybe a little less afraid. Well, we’re going to have to find out because there’s a lot of stuff they got to get together here.”