With a key setback, the Cleveland Cavaliers shoot themselves in the foot.
Following a 120-115 loss against the Orlando Magic, the Cleveland Cavaliers have now lost four of their last five games. The Cavaliers absolutely botched it against the Eastern Conference’s bottom-ranked team, squandering their final chance to fight for a postseason berth.
After losing the starting frontcourt combo of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley early in the season, what was once one of the most renowned defensive teams in the East has taken a complete 180-degree turn, hitting a new low after allowing the league’s worst-ranked offence to put up that many points.
After establishing a double-digit lead early in the game, Cleveland looked to take its foot off the gas, allowing the home team to quickly recover and make the game competitive. The Magic even built a 10-point lead before the Cavs attempted a last-ditch rally in the dying minutes, but failed.
The Cavaliers’ total effort was clearly lacking, allowing the big underdogs to steal one by surpassing them in just about every statistic. Darius Garland led the way with 27 points and 10 assists, while Lauri Markkanen added 25 points of his own.
The Cavs’ next aim is to secure a play-in berth.
Cleveland has been removed from outright playoff contention after falling to 43-37, and will now have to fight for a spot among the seventh and eighth spots. Sliding any lower than 9-10 will very certainly mean doom for the inexperienced young team, which will need to win two knockout games just to advance.
With the Cavaliers only one and a half games ahead of the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and 2.5 games ahead of the Charlotte Hornets in the final play-in spot, winning one of their final two games would be critical.
The return of any or both Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen will give the Cleveland Cavaliers a much-needed lift, especially on defence, as the team attempts to halt its downward spiral. On April 8, they’ll host the Brooklyn Nets in a game that will almost surely have an impact on their playoff hopes.