Cavaliers lack "fight" in second half against Nets

"If you’re not giving effort or a fight, you have no chance in this league.”

Kyle Lewandowski
October 25, 2018 - 12:17 am
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) — Wednesday night brought an opportunity for the Cavaliers to bounce back after the shellacking the Atlanta Hawks laid on them on Sunday. Through the first 24 minutes they looked like a hungry bunch fighting for that first win of the season. Getting back on defense, protecting the paint, outrebounding the Brooklyn Nets by 12, forcing eight turnovers. The score was knotted up at 45 at the break.

Then the third quarter happened.

Brooklyn blitzed the Cavs out of the intermission, outscoring the wine and gold 23-5 in the first 5:50 of the second half. All the things the Cavs did well in the first half were what ultimately led them to trailing by 20 in the third, something they are all too familiar with in the early stages of the season.

After the game head coach Ty Lue said the first half was better but that is not enough.

“We have to be able to sustain it," Lue said. "I thought we did a good job in the first half of being physical, fighting over screens and even competing when we weren’t making shots. In that third quarter we weren’t making shots so I think it kind of let our defense down and we can’t do that. The margin for error for us right now is too small to give in to that.”

The first six minutes of the third quarter showed just how small that margin for error is. They let their guard down for six minutes and the game was essentially over.

This Cavs roster hasn't shown the firepower to overcome a 20-point deficit in the second half or at any point in a game, really, and it is something that has happened in each of their first four games.

So, what is missing right now?

“Fight," Cavalier center Tristan Thompson said. "Plain and simple. You have to fight out there and take it kind of personal. At the end of the day coaches, fans, everyone can live with a team playing hard and giving an effort and if you fall short, live with the results. If you’re not giving effort or a fight, you have no chance in this league.”

That was the theme in the Cavs locker room after their 102-86 loss to the Nets.

"Teams are getting to those wide margins and we’re not able to fight back," forward Kevin Love said. "You saw it in the first two games, a lot of fight, but these last two games at home, especially when we’ve got down [it hasn't been there.] It was a tie game at halftime, last game we were down by two and in the second half. We just let up and didn’t show any fight so that has to change.”

A lack of fight was echoed by nearly every player that spoke after the game in one way or another. If competing at a higher level for a full 48 minutes is all this team needs to do to get some victories under their belt in the forseeable future, a win may be just around the corner but that is yet to be answered.

One thing that could help is a victory.

“We need to get [win] on the board," Love said. "These are big growing pains and we need to get through these. Guys need to continue to fight. We can’t hang our heads, we can’t have bad body language. This isn’t the previous four years, we’re going to have to fight for everything that we got. Tomorrow’s a new day and it gives us another chance to prove ourselves or at least get better.”

This is a new team with a lot of new pieces and parts put into place. Luckily for the Cavs, there is nowhere to go but up at the moment.

“We have to continue to keep learning from it," Lue said. "Tonight was way better than the other night. We can’t let it fester, we’re professionals, we lost a game. The good thing about the NBA, we got another one tomorrow so we have to be ready to play. Detroit is playing at a high level right now and we have to be ready for that.”

The Cavs will have their hands full with Blake Griffin and the Pistons Thursday night in Detroit as they look for that coveted first win of the season.