Is it possible for a 25-40 team to have a statement game? What if it is against a team that the experts unanimously believed to be one of the worst teams in the entire league before opening night tip-off? It sounds absurd to even discuss, but that is exactly the situation that the Cleveland Cavaliers found themselves in on Thursday night. Almost every game from this point on has become a must-win for the Cavaliers…and by beating the Phoenix Suns it seems as if it might be possible.
Since the start of February the Cavaliers have been a .500 team, which, due to the weakness of the Eastern Conference, would put a team into the playoffs over the length of the season. And yet, Cleveland somehow finds themselves in almost the exact same position as they were on Feb. 1. They are still in 11th place and are sitting outside of the playoffs by 3.5 games (as opposed to four games back previously).
After several weeks of consistent victories, the Cavaliers found themselves on a four-game losing streak and facing a dangerous Western Conference opponent who was getting back one of their top players (Eric Bledsoe). A victory was far from certain, but was also greatly needed. If not for the four straight losses, the Cavaliers might have found themselves on the verge of a playoff appearance today.
The problem for the Cavaliers is the imposing upcoming schedule that might as well be described as a murderer’s row of opponents. The Golden State Warriors (.621), Los Angeles Clippers (.697), Miami Heat (.710), Oklahoma City Thunder (.734), and Houston Rockets (.688) all are top eight in the entire league. If Cleveland doesn’t go at least 3-2 during this stretch, this season that began with such high hopes will once again end in disappointment for Cavs fans.