DENVER – Taurean Prince grabbed the rebound, took a couple of dribbles, and threw a 75-foot-foot that went in. It just didn’t matter. The shot came after the buzzer in the first half.
That helps sum up the terrifying night of the Cleveland Cavaliers versus the Denver Nuggets. One of their rare made 3-hands, the game’s most exciting moment, didn’t count. Nothing went well on Wednesday. No positive results to be drawn. No internal growth. No sense of pride. No fight. No answers.
The Cavs lost 133-95 to the Nuggets, who played like a team desperately looking for a season high of three lost games. Cleveland has now fallen five times in a row – all against playoff opponents. The Cavs are 2-8 in their last 10, officially in free fall mode.
“It’s definitely frustrating because we know what we are capable of and what level we have to play at, what we can play at,” said Jarrett Allen after the game. “Every single game is only looking for that level, but we can’t find it. We get to the point where we need to look inside ourselves to see what we need to improve. “
The Nuggets, who played with the Cavs non-stop and turned the matchup into a one-sided embarrassment of 48 minutes, made nine direct shots to open the game. The first mistake came when Allen blocked Michael Porter Jr.’s building move at the 3:55 mark in the first quarter. At this point the Cavs were already buried in a double-digit offensive avalanche in Denver. The Nuggets extended their lead to 42 points in the second half and celebrated games, taunts and dances on the sidelines at Cleveland’s expense. They earned that with a one-sided victory. The Cavs certainly did nothing to prevent this.
“There’s no excuse for the way we played tonight,” said Cav’s head coach JB Bickerstaff. The nuggets sent a clear message from the jump ball to the end of the game. And the message was that the intent was to embarrass us. And whether it was through physicality, whether it was showboating after the game, they sent a clear message that they wanted to embarrass us, and they did. “
Wednesday was a clinic for ball movement, shot formation, teamwork, defense, attention to detail and trust – exactly what the Cavs are aiming for, a level they have only sporadically achieved.
“Aside from basketball, the spirit we played with, that was the point that disappointed me the most,” said Bickerstaff. “I can live with mistakes and missed shots. But I can’t live with a lack of fight that we played with tonight. “
In the hours leading up to the game, Bickerstaff spoke of the Nuggets as a model to emulate. It is logical.
The Nuggets have built a solid foundation through the design using local talent that meets early picks, in the middle of the lottery, and late. They were patient and understood the process and did not sacrifice the future for short-term gains – even when it got difficult. They eventually pulled the trigger of a big money free agent (Paul Millsap), but only when the time was right. A clear view and acceptance throughout the organization led the turnaround. There were some lean years, six straight without playoff basketball, but the Denver fights became an elite championship contender.
There is no guarantee that the Cavs will ever reach this level. You certainly didn’t look anywhere near on Wednesday – and not for weeks. Modifications are exhausting and don’t always work. Like Denver, they haven’t yet found their franchise centerpiece with MVP candidate Nikola Jokic, who scored 12 points for 12 assists and six rebounds in 30 minutes. The next thing the Cavs have is Collin Sexton, who is third year on guard and who is expected to receive All-Star Considerations.
Sexton had one of his worst nights as a professional, scoring four points out of 1 out of 9 out of the field and 0 out of 2 out of 3. Another building block of Cleveland, Allen started at Larry Nance Jr.’s seat for the second game in a row. Allen ended up with a double-double, scored 18 points and got 10 rebounds.
There are distinct differences between the nuggets and cavs. The jury is not yet sure whether Bickerstaff can look like Michael Malone – and whether Cleveland has the patience to stick with him through the defeat. How much advantage does Cleveland’s young core really have? The Nuggets were once in a similar position, trying to record the pieces after their star (Carmelo Anthony) left.
Can the Cavs do the same model? Games like Wednesday don’t help.
The Cavs will continue their road trip against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday night. The tip is set to 10 p.m.
New Cavs Face Masks For Sale: Here, you can purchase Cleveland Cavaliers-themed face covers for coronavirus protection, including a single mask ($ 14.99) and a 3-pack ($ 24.99). All NBA proceeds were donated to charity.
More Cavaliers coverage
NBA Requires Teams To Play National Anthem After Mark Cuban Stops Mavs
Cavaliers gain the necessary experience in the late game – even if they are unsuccessful
Cavaliers give up the lead in the fourth quarter and lose to Phoenix
Start a two-center lineup by Andre Drummond and Jarrett Allen to fill in Nance’s void
Larry Nance Jr. missed six weeks with a broken left hand
The Cavaliers reach the crossroads of the season and hopes for the playoffs are beginning to fade
Cavaliers’ slide continues with 124-99 losses against Bucks
Dellavedova: I am not thinking of retirement, concussion, a temporary setback