Orlando outscores Cleveland in the second half to hand Cavs their second consecutive loss.
You're probably scratching your heads right now, asking yourselves one simple question: "What is happening to the Cleveland Cavaliers?"
After all, the Cavs is supposedly a super team that has been assembled to compete against the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals. To begin with, even with Kyrie Irving now playing with the Boston Celtics, this Cavs team is still formidable with LeBron James, Kevin Love and the new guy, Isaiah Thomas. However, things haven't been good with the Cavs as they are struggling to defend and are also dealing with Kevin Love's absence on top of Isaiah Thomas' struggles to play the point guard position for Tyronn Lue. And against the Orlando Magic who are without star forward, Aaron Gordon, the Cavs played most of the game without their head coach who headed to the locker room in the second quarter due to an illness- according to the team.
To give credit to the Cavs, they actually scored 43 points in the first quarter but things fell apart again as they failed to stop Jonathon Simmons and the rest of the Orlando Magic as the Magic beat the Cavs, 116-98. Mind you, folks. The Cavs were up as high as 21 points and they just blew it away. The win was the second straight for the Magic who are currently sitting second to the last in the Eastern Conference while the Cavs absorbed their second consecutive blowout loss. This was the Cavs' 14th defeat in their last 21 games and their lack of defense has been a huge part for these loses as the Cavs have been giving up 122 points on the average in their last 5 games alone.
What happened in the game? Below are the numbers:
Cavs-ish Start. Un-Cavs-ish Finish
As mentioned above, the Cavs scored 43 points in the opening quarter while limiting the Magic to 31 points. JR Smith, who led the Cavs with 12 points in their embarrassing loss against the Houston Rockets, had 3 three-pointers in the first 4 minutes of the game as the Cavs held the lead, at 15-4. However, the Cavs faltered during the rest of the game as they allowed the Magic to run havoc in the 3rd quarter, allowing 41 points including 22 points from Simmons' 34 points. And in the 4th quarter, the Cavs went scoreless for 6 and a half minutes in the 4th quarter as Cleveland could only manage 9 points in the final quarter.
Isaiah Thomas' Struggles Continued
With the trade deadline just two days, we shouldn't even be surprised at all if the Cavs would send Isaiah Thomas elsewhere especially after LeBron James said that he wouldn't waive his "no-trade" clause, for now. The struggles of Isaiah Thomas in playing the point guard position have been put on full display in the Cavs' last two games as IT has been clanking most of his shots. Against Orlando, Isaiah Thomas took 13 shots and only nailed 3 of them for his 11 points. He also went 1 for 6 from the three-point line. On a positive note. IT did have 8 assists but the Cavs will need more of his scoring if they intend to make a 4th consecutive trip to the NBA Finals.
The Simmons Effect
Let's make this simple, folks. Jonathon Simmons almost didn't play the game against LeBron James and company and the Cavs can only wish that he didn't. Why? Check out Simmons' numbers:
- 34 points (22 in the 3rd quarter)
- 12 for 17 field goal shooting (including 2 for 4 from the 3-point line)
- 7 rebounds
- 2 assists
- 1 steal
- 1 block
- All of that in 36 minutes
With LeBron James' pronouncement that he will be sticking with the Cavs, for now, we can be assured that he won't be included in any trade deals. Will he stay in Cleveland after this season? It depends on one thing: how good the Cavs can get after the trade deadline. Good in terms of if it's already good enough for the Cavs to win against GSW in the Finals.