CLEVELAND, OH – Thursday was a sorrowful day for Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt. Never mind the fact that the Cavs dropped to 0-5 in the NBA preseason with a 107-85 loss to the Indiana Pacers Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The loss was incomparable to another casualty from earlier in the day. A former player and friend of Blatt’s tragically lost his life early Thursday morning.
“I want to send my condolences to the family of Nate Huffman, who played for me in Maccabi Tel Aviv and played for the Maccabi Tel Aviv organization for three great seasons,” Blatt shared before taking questions from the media prior to the game. “He was a European champion. He was a European MVP and an NBA player for the Toronto Raptors for a short period of time until a knee injury ended his career. He was a good good friend, a great great player and a wonderful guy — And I just wanted to send my best wishes to his family.”
Thursday, Blatt was given news nobody wants to hear — Huffman had lost his battle with badder cancer at the age of 40. Despite the loss of his friend, Blatt still coached the Cavaliers against Indiana Thursday night — And he was without LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert and Cleveland folk hero Matthew Dellavedova.
James sat out the contest with Indiana to preserve his health, while Dellavedova missed the matchup with a sore ankle. Irving and Shumpert are expected to miss significant time into the regular season, while Blatt reiterated that Kevin Love has a chance to play in Cleveland’s next game on Sunday. Blatt admitted it’s been difficult to get the team geared up for the regular season with bodies fluctuating in and out of the lineup.
“The most important thing for us now is to get healthy, to do the work that we can do in the games, but not at the risk of players being ready to go when their curtain comes up,” Blatt said. “I know there’s a fine line between the preparation aspect and the health aspect for the start of the season, but we’ve got a plan and we’re following it — We’re staying true to it.”
Thursday against Indiana, Timofey Mozgov led Cleveland with 16 points and six rebounds. Richard Jefferson added 14 points and three rebounds, while J.R. Smith scored 10 points with five assists.
Pacers forward Paul George led Indiana to victory with 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists.
With plenteous body language during the game, Blatt expressed frustration with the way his team played. Trailing 46-26 in the second quarter, Blatt’s hands went to his hips after George knocked down an open three-pointer. When Indiana guard Monta Ellis threw down a dunk less than a minute later, Blatt’s arms immediately folded across his chest — And as the Cavs missed easy layups around the rim, Blatt threw his hands up and leisurely strolled toward the Cavs bench.
“Third game in four nights,” Blatt said as to why the Cavs looked lethargic. “Very depleted roster probably explains the energy and activity level.”
The Cavs trailed 53-38 when halftime arrived and didn’t seem hyped to play the exhibition affair. When the third quarter ended, Cleveland trailed 73-58. Blatt previously expressed that he thinks the NBA preseason is too long, saying it should be shortened to four or five games instead of the seven games Cleveland plays, which includes several back-to-back contests.
The Cavs next game is against the Raptors in Toronto on Sunday. For Blatt, better days than the one he experienced Thursday are aheadt
POSTED 10/15/2015 22:45