CLEVELAND -- Random observations from the Cavaliers' 103-87 loss to Philadelphia on Wednesday at The Q:
The Cavs (20-41) have won just three of their past 17 games. Several of the losses have been downright despicable. In Charlotte, these results might not be big deal. But in a sports-starved town like Cleveland, it can hurt.
So who and what is to blame? Well, it's only fair to start with the depleted roster. Anderson Varejao has been out since early February. Kyrie Irving had missed nine games in a row, and 10 of 11, before giving it a go Wednesday. Daniel Gibson had foot surgery, Alonzo Gee has a bum ankle, and Ramon Sessions was traded for a draft pick and Luke Walton. Before all that, the Cavs were the ninth seed in the Eastern Conference and in the running for a playoff spot.
Now, the Cavs are going to war with Donald Sloan, Lester Hudson, Samardo Samuels, Luke Harangody and Manny Harris. Not one has a guaranteed future in the NBA. In fact, all are auditioning for a job next year. Not just in Cleveland, but anywhere.
When it comes to a go-to man, veteran forward Antawn Jamison has been the lone constant in the lineup. As we've seen most of the season, it's turn out the lights and go back to bed when Jamison doesn't connect. Some fans might think Jamison shoots too much, but without his scoring, the Cavs typically have no chance to even compete.
The Cavs' next big day is May 30, when the NBA draft lottery is held. But they still have five games (in seven days) to play before the season ends. Only two of those are at home -- Friday vs. New York and Wednesday (April 25) vs. Washington. They also pay a visit to the team with the best record in the Western Conference (San Antonio) and the team with the best record in the East (Chicago).
Byron Scott hasn't been overly upset with the Cavs' performances, simply because he knows what type of hand he's been dealt lately. It's not that he thinks his players are bad. But he also understands it's tough to expect them to be real cohesive. As he said after Wednesday's game, he's looking for effort, and "I think the guys are trying."
So what else is left? "The first order of business is to compete," Scott said. "The second order of business is to see what we have (for next year)."
Basically, summer league has already started for a lot of players on the roster. Those players will hopefully recognize that, and understand their trial period is underway.
Irving had a solid game in his return, finishing with nine points and four assists in 19 minutes. "Although we're out of (playoff contention), it's about competing and I love to play," Irving said. "I'd rather be out there on one leg than be on the bench and just not competing."
That said, it's doubtful Irving plays in each of the final five games, and he knows it. This week, after all, is all about next year. And that really makes pretty good sense.