Cavaliers Fans Should Be Livid Over Season Finale

After fighting for seeding for the past six months, the Cavs decided that fighting for six more minutes wasn't worth it.
Cavs Coach JB Bickerstaff
Cavs Coach JB Bickerstaff / Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

This is what I know. The Cavs played 81 games to put themselves in the best possible position for the playoffs. When you boil it down, that's really all the regular season is for: to give yourself the easiest path possible to a deep playoff run.

The Cavs didn't do everything right during the regular season, but, due to their own pluckiness and the back luck of a few other teams, they were in position for a seeding that was better than anything they could have dreamed of just a week ago.

And then they just decided not to bother. The Cavs entered the fourth quarter of Sunday's game with an eight-point lead, stretched it to 13 with ten minutes to go, then went the last six minutes with a lineup so bizarre you would be excused for thinking Jontay Porter came up with it: Emoni Bates, Tristan Thompson, Damien Jones, Pete Nance, and Isiah Mobley. If you can figure out who the point guard is in that group, you win a prize.

Of that group, Bates is the only one with any ballhandling skills, and his six turnovers Sunday call that idea into serious doubt. The Cavs played six minutes, with the second seed in the East still in play with a lineup devoid of ball-handling, shot creation, or, truthfully, NBA-level talent. Let's just briefly summarize the reasons why that was a bad idea.

1). Start with the whole integrity of the game idea. There were twenty thousand fans in the stands who paid a lot of money to watch an NBA team with a lot on the line, and they were denied a quality product or an honest effort. That's not protecting the integrity of the game.

2). The Cavs could have won this game. When we heard that Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, and Caris LeVert were sitting out, it was reasonable to think that it was a lost cause. But Charlotte sat out several key players, and the Cavs who did play fought like dogs for three quarters. All it would have taken to hold the lead would have been to have Max Strus or Isaac Okoro on the floor for those last six minutes, just to make sure the Cavs got a decent shot on every possession.

3). More than seeding or matchups, this team entered this last homestand needing some confidence. They gained a lot of it in the win against the Pacers, but going into the playoffs on a three-game winning streak would have done wonders for them, much moreso than rest would have, especially since they have five days of rest in front of them. And (I can't say this enough) they were SIX MINUTES from winning.

4). Of course, the seeding is the elephant in the room. You could take seeds 2 through 8 in the Eastern Conference and flip a coin and have a better chance of picking a winner in any series involving those teams. We've seen enough of the Cavs this season to know that the outcome of their first round series is totally dependent on whether they make shots. As soon as they were assured of avoiding the play-in, the most important thing for the Cavs was to avoid playing the Celitcs for as long as possible.

Despite their struggles of the last two months, as Sunday's games progressed, it became clear that the Cavs had a chance to do exactly that. Milwaukee and New York were both losing, and if those outcomes had held, the Cavs could have gotten the second seed, which would have meant avoiding the Celtics until the conference finals.

But, after 81 games and 3 quarters of fighting for exactly that outcome, they decided it wasn't worth the trouble. If you're a Cavs fan on this Monday morning, you should be livid.

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