Cavs call effort 'embarrassing,' 'alarming' in loss to Hawks

“Whoever is in the game has to be ready to play, take the scouts serious, figure out what we’re doing."

Alex Hooper
October 21, 2018 - 10:36 pm
Oct 21, 2018; Cleveland, OH, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Alex Len (25) and guard Jeremy Lin (7) block the shot of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Rodney Hood (1) during the first half at Quicken Loans Arena.

© Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The phrase to describe the Cleveland Cavaliers and Quicken Loans Arena going into the team’s 2018-19 home opener was ‘Under Construction.’

After the Cavs’ 133-111 drubbing at the hands of the lowly Atlanta Hawks in the Q opener, the words being thrown around in the home locker room were ‘alarming,’ and ‘embarrassing.’

With two tough road matchups against the Toronto Raptors and Minnesota Timberwolves to start the year, an 0-2 start was easy to imagine. A third consecutive loss coming to the openly-rebuilding Hawks was unfathomable.

“For us, that’s not really what we’re here to do,” forward Tristan Thompson said of Atlanta’s plan. “For me, (Kevin Love), Kyle (Korver), (George) Hill, (J.R. Smith), all of the guys that have been a part of winning environments, we come to compete. That’s what we’re here to do. Tonight, there was none of that at all.”

En route to the 133 points, the Hawks nailed a team-record 22 3-pointers out of 47 attempts, and shot 48-of-98 (49%) overall on the back of 32 assists.

Rookie point guard scored 35 on 13-of-23, and dropped 11 helpers, becoming the third rookie since 2000 to post 35 points and 10 assists in a game. The others were LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Thompson called the team’s effort ‘embarrassing,’ and also called into question the preparation of a young team.

“I’m not asking everybody to be lock-down defenders or Bruce Bowen, but just know, you’re going to take the personal challenge, and if your guy beats you, know you’ve got help on the backside by at least giving effort,” he said.

The horror show came after Head Coach Tyronn Lue said in his pre-game press conference that he was not sure what a ‘good’ defensive night was in today’s NBA. With more emphasis on players’ freedom of movement, point totals are at yet another new height in the early going of the season.

Lue settled on a team win as the benchmark for an acceptable night. Sunday night did not just miss that mark, it missed it wildly.

As a team that switches every screen, perhaps without the necessary personnel, Lue said his team was too slow. Thompson added that the philosophy could still work if the entire team is physical at the point of the screen.

“Whoever is in the game has to be ready to play, take the scouts serious, figure out what we’re doing,” Thompson added. “If you don’t know what to do, ask questions, but don’t go out here and say ‘I know, I know,’ then come out here and get your ass whooped.”

Things started promisingly, as the Cavaliers led 34-24 after a quarter of play, with a lead as big as 15 points. The Hawks outscored the home team 109-77 in the final 36 minutes, including 40-point quarters in the second and fourth.

“The last three quarters were pretty damn alarming,” Love said. “On opening night at home, we expect to play better. We expect to play better in front of our home crowd. I don’t know it if alarming is the right word, but it sure sounds right, right now.”