By: T.J. Zuppe
Maybe it is a case of just being a little bitter. Maybe it is a little of the scorned lover syndrome.
Maybe it comes from being spoiled by basketball in Cleveland for the better part of a decade. Maybe it is from expecting too much from a team that is clearly not as talented as those teams from the past.
Or maybe, just maybe, Cleveland has every right to feel this way.
What is that feeling? First let us put that on hold for a second, as we preempt this feeling by saying, it was good to see the Cavaliers give a more physical effort – or any effort at all – in Wednesday night’s loss to the Miami Heat by a margin of six points.
It was also good to see better individual efforts from players wearing the wine and gold.
Most of all, the true hope is the squad can use the loss as motivation for better play on the horizon. Possibly the trip to South Beach can become the opposite of what Miami’s trip to Cleveland meant – a nine game losing streak.
However, with all that said, still cannot help to avoid the feeling that the effort was just a little too late.
How late was it? As the saying goes, a day late and a dollar short.
Even with the improved play, one has to ask themselves why it came in the rematch in Miami, as opposed to in front of the home crowd that was foaming at the mouth on December 2nd at Quicken Loans Arena.
A crowd that was anxious to show their love for their current Cavs, while voicing their anger towards Lebron James, deserved a hell of a lot more than the destruction they witnessed.
Yet, in a game in which many Clevelanders had little interest, due to that effort earlier in the month, the Cavs decided it was a great time to turn up the defensive intensity. They also cut the talk with their former teammate to a minimum, as if to prove the first match-up was an aberration.
But the real question becomes this: Why did the team decide game two was a much better time to display those things?
Was the embarrassment of getting annihilated on your home court too much? Was getting done by the man they used to call their king a little too much to handle?
Possibly getting called out by the Cavs nation for fraternizing with the enemy, while getting totally dismantled and emasculated on national television left a bad taste. Anyone in that situation would most certainly have to feel that way.
Following the game, guard Daniel Gibson – who led the team with 26 points and continues to put together a quietly good season – alluded to wanting to be more physical, showing Miami they were there and not going away. They felt they had something to prove.
This sounds good and by all accounts should be the mindset, not only against the Heat but against all teams in the NBA.
But why did this way of thinking just come to pass now? Why could it have been implemented just a few short weeks ago in their first meeting?
It is a great song and dance. It sounds pleasing to the ear. But it is all just a little too late to undo what has already been done. For most, the damage inflicted could never be taken away.
Simply put, had the Cavs played with the same intensity at home as they did on the road, even with the end result being a loss, the circumstances would be completely different.
It is for that reason, the Cavs have no one to blame but themselves. It may come from being a little bitter. But it is also the truth.