The Cleveland Cavaliers blew a 26-point lead Sunday in an NBA game against the Atlanta Hawks, and in the process of losing to the Hawks, 126-125 in overtime in Atlanta, the Cavaliers are now tied in the Eastern Conference for the top spot with the Boston Celtics.
With the Celtics and Cavaliers now tied with each having a 51-29 overall record, one win ahead of the Toronto Raptors, who are in third place in the East with 50 wins as the season gets closer to the NBA Playoffs. As for Sunday’s loss by the Cavaliers, they led by 26 points in the fourth quarter, until the Hawks took over and gained the win in overtime as the Hawks outscored the Cavaliers, 44-18 in the fourth quarter and 15-14 in overtime.
Joe Rodgers on SportingNews wrote this about the Cavaliers as the regular season comes to a close.
“With the loss, the slumping Cavaliers are now tied with the idle Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the East and are just 12-13 since the All-Star break. Cleveland owns the head-to-head tiebreaker with Boston, which has two games remaining in its regular-season schedule.”
This isn’t a good look for the Cavaliers with just a couple games remaining in the regular season, but the Cavaliers still have to be the team to be favorites to win the East, even if the Celtics seem to have the momentum as the NBA regular season nears the end.
Even though it isn’t a good look for the Cavaliers to end the regular season in a slump, they can still get back on track with games left against the Miami Heat on April 10 and on April 12 against the Toronto Raptors, so regaining the No. 1 overall spot in the Eastern Conference with the tiebreaker over the Celtics isn’t necessarily a given.
Back to the loss on Sunday to the Hawks. In that loss by the Cavaliers, The Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Joe Vardon article quoted LeBron James about how the Cavaliers have played recently.
“It was a tough loss right here,” said LeBron James, who finished with a triple-double but fouled out in overtime.
“We got two games left but I don’t know the situation about tomorrow. I’m still kind of calibrating this one.”
LeBron James is correct in his statement. The Cavaliers do have two games left on their schedule, and it was a tough loss, but with the talent the Cavaliers have, and even more importantly, they are the defending NBA champions with a lot of winning playoff experience in their favor, they should be playing better basketball this close to the end of the regular season.
That said, the Celtics, Raptors, and now the Hawks are teams to watch against the Cavaliers, but again, a seven-game playoff series is another story for those teams, including the Celtics. Even with the Cavaliers playing poorly, the feeling is the Celtics are the only team in the East who can most likely challenge the Cavaliers’ path back to the NBA Finals.
Even with the Celtics and Cavaliers tied in the Eastern Conference with each having two games remaining on their regular-season schedules, if they end up tied, the Cavaliers own the tiebreaker as they’ve won the most head-to-head matchups when the two teams have faced each other this season, plus remember, on April 5, the Cavaliers defeated the Celtics, 114-91.
Though the Cavaliers seem to be the most talented team in the East, they haven’t made a life for themselves as comfortable as it should be with the NBA Playoffs nearing. There are a lot of questions remaining for the Cavaliers, but with the season winding down, it is most likely the Cavaliers will get a second wind, so to speak. With that, they have the opportunity in front of them to regain control the East, whether they have home court advantage or not.
[Featured Image by Jason Miller/Getty Images]