Reality Check: Cavaliers' losing streak shows how tough rebuild will be

The Cavs have lost three straight games

James Rapien
November 18, 2019 - 12:19 am

CLEVELAND, OH — The young Cavaliers are learning how quickly things can change in the NBA. And, unfortunately for them, they're learning that lesson the hard way. The Cavs have lost three straight games following Sunday’s 114-95 blowout loss to the 76ers.

Cleveland went down to the wire with Philadelphia less than a week ago, before ultimately losing 98-97. Since then, they’ve lost two more games by 30 points combined.

“This isn’t just a tough loss like it was in Philly where we competed,” head coach John Beilein said. “We got blown out in our own arena on a Sunday afternoon in front of a great crowd. It measures you a little bit. We’ve got to bounce back from it and find a way to make the changes in everything that we do. Effort areas, defense, offense, rotations, everything. Just keep looking at it because these last two games have not been in the right direction.”

Everyone in the organization, including Beilein expects this to be a process. They know the culture and team they want to build isn’t going to magically appear after a few months. Their last three losses have been against two legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference. Philadelphia is considered one of the favorites to win the East and Miami was a preseason sleeper.

It’s the Cavaliers’ second three game losing streak already this season and it won’t be their last.

“Really disappointed again,” Beilein said. “The other night the same thing. We’re playing a really good team. The first half again, one lapse at any time and all of a sudden it’s 10 and then it’s 20. Didn’t have any answers, didn’t get good enough shots on offense. One hundred percent as coaches, as a team, we’ve got to continue to look at this one.”

The Cavaliers finished with just 14 assists on Sunday, which is something Beilein has stressed since training camp. He wants his team to move the ball. They’ve struggled to that during this losing streak.

It was a point of emphasis after Thursday’s loss to Miami, but the Cavaliers finished with just two assists in the first quarter. The 76ers had 12 first quarter assists, which helped them build a double-digit lead.

“It was ugly," Kevin Love said. "We are charting our passes. A lot of one-pass shots. Even when they went zone, we weren’t moving the ball like we should. It just wasn’t there tonight. It was worse I feel like than last game. I don’t know what the numbers say, but sure felt like it. Playing Miami and playing Phily tonight, you see it’s infectious with them and they’re sharing the ball and different guys are stepping up.”

The Cavaliers are rebuilding. They don’t have the talent that most of the other teams in the NBA have, which means they need to do the little things to remain competitive. They’re going to struggle when they don't outhustle and outwork their opponent.

Getting Love and Tristan Thompson into a rhythm is key to their success. Thompson has 14 points and 12 rebounds combined in the Cavs’ last two games. Their margin of error is too thin for one of their best players to have a significant dip in production.

The Cavs are getting hit with a heavy dose of reality. They’re going to have to outplay their opponents in most areas to be competitive on a nightly basis.

Beilein is determined to build a winning culture in Cleveland. He knows the rebuild is going to have its’ ups and downs. There will be plenty of disappointing night’s and Sunday was one of them.

The Cavs don't have any time for feel sorry for themselves. They play the Knicks on Monday. 

“The beautiful part about the NBA is we get another chance tomorrow,” Love said. “Not a message you typically like to hear, you have to take it on the chin and be better tomorrow.”