Saturday, February 5, 2011

8 and 42 and 23 and counting

Tonight in Memphis, the Cleveland Cavaliers played a basketball game, and for the 23rd straight time, they lost. It's the longest single-season streak in the history of the Association, and on some level, it's kind of amazing that the number is that low, really: after all, this is a league where the best teams routinely win 2 out of 3 or 3 out of 4, which means that the opposite is also true. But anyway.

The fun part about this, of course, is that with each succeeding loss and day, it's more and more obvious that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is going to take the pipe for, well, now until the league contracts his franchise in a post lockout nuclear winter. Because there is no plan here, no concept of how things are going to get better, and no sense that Cleveland Fan, after the half-dozen years in the LeBron James Era, is ever going to think that this team is going to be worthy of their time. And this is a town without hockey, or one could argue, football or baseball.

In Memphis, the Cavs were without guard Daniel "Boobie" Gibson, who was away from the team for "personal reasons." I can tell you from watching similar mailing it in teams in Golden State, that this is a special moment in a season; when the quitting of various players, along with the suspiciously prolonged nature of injuries, gets over the top. For the Cavs, that's Mo Williams and Anderson Vareajo, who would probably play the best ball of their life if they got out of town this year.

When a team quits, it's not total; there are always still players who see it as an opportunity to put up context-free numbers in a vaccuum, in an attempt to prove that they are actually good or something. For the Cavs, that's second-year forward JJ Hickson, who had 31 and 15 tonight. Something to be encouraged about? Not really; Hickson had 2 assists in 39 minutes, no steals, one block, and a -19 raing in plus/minus. Perhaps we should be encouraged instead about how Christian Evenga, a D-League call-up, got the start and 36 minutes tonight; the Cavs can, at least, help in a small way to counter unemployment in the Cleveland area. Or how the Cavs actually led in this game in the third quarter, so they might actually still care. (No, not really.)

How long will this streak continue? Portland plays in Cleveland tomorrow, and then they are back in the road in Dallas on Monday. After that, they have the Pistons and Clippers at home, followed by the Wizards, Lakers, Rockets, Knicks, Sixers and Spurs in an elongated home stretch. They'll probably win a couple of those games, because being at home helps, and there's always the disquieting home court advantage of playing in a gym with crickets and empty seats.

But realistically, the Cavs' record doesn't matter, because the Cavs don't matter, and may never matter again. So why not set the record?

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