With an opportunity to pretty much lock up the No. 1 seed Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks, LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers laid a complete egg.
They fell to Atlanta by the score of 114-100 at home, furthering the idea that Cleveland itself is not in a good spot. This came after the Cavs handed a top-end Boston Celtics team a blowout loss on the road earlier in the week.
In talking about his team’s performance, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue did not mince words.
“I thought we thought we’d just mess around with the game until it was time to knuckle down. By that time they already had confidence. That’s who we’ve been. That’s who we are. I hate it,” Lue said, via the Associated Press. “These games like this come back and bite you, especially down the stretch when you’re trying to get some rest. Trying to hold onto that No. 1 seed and getting rest and you come out and have a performance like this, it’s not good.”
Cleveland still has the upper hand for the top seed back east. With three games remaining, it is one game ahead of Boston and owns the tiebreaker. With that said, Lue and Co. have remaining games against Miami, Atlanta and Toronto over the next few days.
Any thought given to the idea that the defending champs might be able to rest their stars before the playoffs was thrown out the window Friday night. That’s likely why Lue himself was so blunt with his criticism. He can’t be a happy camper right now.
Cleveland boasts a substandard 10-11 record since March 1st. That also plays into Lue’s ire.