So, just how bad are the Cavaliers?


The 8-37 Cavaliers have lost 18 straight games and 28 of their last 29 on their way to claiming the worst record in the league. That’s the bad news. The worse news is that the Cavaliers are considerably worse than their record indicates.

As bad as the Cavs’ record indicates, the team’s win margin is far uglier: The team is a respectable 2-3 in games decided by three points or less (meaning that a full 25% of the team’s wins have come by three points or less), and the Cavs are an abysmal 0-24 in games decided by 10 points or more. To provide some perspective on that last statistic, the 10-34 Timberwolves are 6-15 in games decided by 10 points or more. The Vegas spread for Tuesday’s Cavaliers-Celtics game was 17 points, and that ended up being a push.

If it wasn’t for the team’s 7-8 start (which was the product of a miracle win against the Celtics and weak scheduling), the Cavaliers would almost certainly be in the hunt for the worst record ever. As it is now, the Cavaliers are chasing the dubious “honor” of being one of the only teams to finish the season with the lowest offensive and defensive efficiency in the league. I’ll let Zach Lowe of The Point Forward explain:

As the Celtics approached 70 points during the first half last night, I found myself wondering if Cleveland might wind up dead last in both offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) and defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions).

The Cavs have been last in offensive efficiency for a while now — a remarkable thing, considering how bad Milwaukee’s offense has been — and Tuesday’s night’s effort in Boston dropped Cleveland to into a tie with Toronto for the next-to-last spot in the defensive efficiency rankings. Only the Suns stand in between the Cavs and a unique level of infamy.

That naturally prompted a question that both Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference and I tackled this morning: Has any team finished last in both categories?

Turns out, two have pulled the trick in the three-point era (starting in the 1979-80 season):

• The 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers (12-70, Player Efficiency Rating Leader — Michael Cage, 17.1): 101.2 points scored/100 possessions vs. 112.3 points allowed/100 possessions. Net difference: -11.1.

The 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks (11-71, PER later–Derek Harper, 15.9): 99.5 points scored/100 possessions vs. 114.7 points allowed/100 possessions. Net difference: -15.2.

Currently, the Cavaliers are losing games by an average of 12.1 points per game, which would be the fourth-worst mark since the 1979-80 season if the season ended today. And that point margin will likely be worse by the end of the season.

In short, the Cavaliers have not won in over a month, they are losing by historically wide margins, they were the worst team in basketball when healthy and have suffered a slew of injuries, and they will need to beat either the Nuggets, Heat, or Magic to prevent going winless in January. Times are bleak in Cleveland, and there won’t be many happy times for Cavalier fans before the 2011 draft — which the Cavaliers are assured a high pick in, at least.

Spurs to give Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili Friday night off in Denver

Manu Ginobili, Harrison Barnes, Tim Duncan
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The Spurs are 12-3 and comfortably in second place in the West, they have the best defense in the NBA allowing just 93.8 points per 100 possessions, and they have a top-10 offense to go with it.

So, time to start making sure guys are rested.

That is the first night of a back-to-back, with former Spurs’ assistant coach Mike Budenholzer and his Atlanta Hawks coming to San Antonio on Saturday. Popovich is saving his two veterans for that game.

Duncan and Ginobili have looked like they found the fountain of youth this season. Duncan is taking on less of the offense but has been very efficient in those moments. Ginobili has the impact he did a few years back in his bench role.

What Gregg Popovich cares about is them playing like that come the postseason. So they will rest on Friday.

Brandon Armstrong impersonates Ray Allen (video)

2014 NBA Finals - Game Five
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Ray Allen is retired-ish, but he’ll always be running through screens – in our mind and in this video.

Celtics draft pick Marcus Thornton gets beer dumped on head during Australian game (video)

Marcus Thornton, Will Cherry

The Celtics drafted Marcus Thornton with No. 45 pick in the 2015 NBA draft. That essentially entitled him to the required tender – a one-year contract offer, surely unguaranteed at the minimum.

Thornton rejected that, which is almost always a mistake.

Rejecting the tender is a favor to the drafting team, which gets to keep the player’s exclusive rights for a year. If Thornton tries to join the NBA now, he’s stuck negotiating with only the Celtics.

By accepting the tender, the player typically gets one of two outcomes. He either plays on that contract and draws an NBA salary or he gets waived. But even getting waived is better than rejecting the tender, because at least the player becomes a free agent and can negotiate with any team.

Players who reject the tender go to another league and play for less money. In Thornton’s case, that mean Australia.

How’s that going?

(Almost) never reject the required tender as a second-round pick.

Byron Scott says they just have to get Kobe Bryant better looks

Kobe Bryant, Joe Johnson, Byron Scott

Kobe Bryant is averaging 15.2 points a game at age 37. It’s just taking him 16.4 shots per game to get there. After his 1-of-14 shooting performance against the Warriors the other night — with too much isolation and too many plays run just for him — there has been a lot of talk about his shot. With reason, this is his shot chart so far this season.

Kobe shotchart season

So what do the Lakers’ do? Get Kobe to shoot less and get the ball in the hands of the young stars they supposed to be developing more? Nah.

They just need to get Kobe better looks, Scott told the Los Angeles Times.

“I know his mentality is that he can still play in this league,” Scott said. “And we feel the same way….

“Obviously he’s struggling right now with his shot, and I think everybody can see that,” Scott said. “So it’s trying to get him in better position to be able to have an opportunity to knock those shots down on a consistent basis. That’s No. 1.

“I don’t know if it’s his legs. I don’t think so. Again, our conversations are pretty blunt. … He tells me when he is tired and he tells me when he’s not tired. And the last few days, he said he feels great. So, I don’t think it’s a matter of him being tired or his legs being tired. I think it’s a matter of his timing being a little off.”

Yes, how could it be his legs? It’s not like he’s a 37-year-old with more than 55,000 NBA minutes played, and coming off an Achilles rupture and major knee surgery.

Honestly, I hope the Lakers and Kobe find a balance soon, because they have become just hard to watch. And I don’t want Kobe to go out this way.