Cavaliers continue to play hard, fall to Spurs 112-90
BY STONE LEXINGTON
CAVALIERS BEAT WRITER
(CLEVELAND, OH) - The NBA season is a “psychological rollercoaster,” as Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Larry Drew would describe it.
So what has Drew done to lift morale in the Cavs locker room in the midst of the franchise’s worst season since the 2010-11 campaign?
“Well, a big part of my job is to make sure they do stay upbeat,” Drew said about the Cavs players. “I know when they go though tough periods, how demanding that can be on you as an individual. But it’s my job to keep them upbeat, it’s my job to make sure that they don’t allow themselves to get caught in a psychological rut.”
In a recent practice, Drew switched things up. He had the big guys playing point guard and the point guards playing the center position. Imagine Ante Zizic at the top of the floor, calling out plays and having to run them — that was the scene.
The players enjoyed the modified practice, according to Drew.
“Win, lose or draw, you have to keep it a little spiced up, keep it fun, keep it interesting,” Drew said. “But at the same time, keep the level of professionalism there.”
Entering Sunday’s contest against the San Antonio Spurs, the Cavs had just two games remaining on their schedule. They had accumulated just 19 wins this season, and if they didn’t find a way to secure a victory in one of their final two games, they would equal the dreadful 19-win season from 2010-11.
They’ll have to hope for that win in their final game on Tuesday, as the Spurs throttled the Cavs 112-90 in Quicken Loans Arena.
“The one thing that I try to share with all of our players is, sometimes we go through things and those things shape us into being who we are today,” Drew said. “You have to take the bitter with the sweet, you have to take the good with the bad. It’s not always going to be the way you want it, but you have to learn how to deal with tough times.
“You have to deal with rough times. You have to learn to learn to deal with adversity, and those are the things that make you a stronger person.”
Aside Sunday’s loss to the Spurs, the Cavs have had plenty of adversity that could make them stronger in the future — from missing Kevin Love for most of the season, to their head coach being replaced less than 10 games into the season, to players being traded and acquired, to the gravitation toward a youth movement.
Through it all, Drew said he’s happy with how his team has been able to handle a this season’s situation.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Drew said. “Not at all. Anytime you go through a situation where you’re going through a rebuilding process and understanding that in rebuilding, there’s a strong possibility that you’re going to take some lumps and some bruises, and we definitely have done that. Yet, we have been able to maintain a level of professionalism on and off the floor in our locker room.”
Against San Antonio, the Cavs were competitive for much of the first half and trailed by a slim 51-45 deficit after Cedi Osman sank a three-pointer with 2:42 to play until halftime. The Spurs, though, closed the half with an 11-1 run to take a 62-46 lead into the break.
Cleveland opened the second half with an 11-4 spurt to get the game back within single digits at 66-57, but they never got any closer. When San Antonio opened the fourth quarter with a quick 5-0 run, the Cavs trailed by 21 points.
Cavs point guard Collin Sexton scored 15 points with four assists against the Spurs, while Zizic chipped-in 14 points and six rebounds. Sexton, in particular, has appeared to give his all every minute this season, playing in every game.
“Our guys have done a phenomenal job of just maintaining a level of professionalism and going out every night and playing hard,” Drew said. “We understand we’re not going to play well every night, but we can play hard every night and our guys have done that. I really applaud just for how they’ve been able to handle it.”
The Cavs will close out their regular season on Tuesday at home against the Charlotte Hornets.
POSTED 04/07/2019 17:43