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What Lies Ahead for the Cavaliers After NBA-Record 25th Consecutive Loss?

The Cavaliers lost again last night.

Sound familiar? It should. That's been the headline after Cleveland's last 25 games. When a team loses that many games in a row, they're bound to cover just about all aspects of the losing spectrum...and the Cavaliers have.

Start with blowouts. Obviously the game against Los Angeles stands out—on that fateful January night the Cavaliers set a new low in futility when they nearly lost by more points (55) than they scored for the entire game (57). All in all they've lost 15 games by double-digits during the streak.

Then there's the "hanging in there, just not quite good enough" losses. Like on Dec. 28, when they trailed Orlando by just one heading into the fourth quarter. The Magic knocked down six three-pointers in the final period and the Cavs couldn't recover.

And you can't forget the games against the bottom-tier teams. Those ones stung the most. Like losing at home to the lowly Raptors by 15. Or blowing a 12-point fourth quarter lead at home against the Timberwolves. Or being unable to foul Brook Lopez in the post in the final seconds of a tie game with a foul to give, resulting in an easy shot and a two-point loss to the Nets.

But last night? Last night's loss fell into an entire different category, one that this particular Cavaliers fan didn't know existed.

It's not entirely because of the now NBA record 25th consecutive loss (though the stakes of that loss may have had something to do with it). It was exactly how an historically bad streak should culminate: an undermanned team scrapping against one of the league's best, somehow hanging in the game despite making mistakes to fall behind big, somehow rallying, somehow doing everything down the stretch necessary to win...only to watch it all collapse in a disastrous final six seconds.

It's been about 12 hours since the end and I still don't really have any rational and coherent thoughts about the deciding sequence on than my original reaction of a few expletives. I remember looking at the lineup on the floor and thinking, "alright, if they get stop here, who's gonna shoot it?" and then immediately thinking, "I don't want any of these guys shooting it." Of Cleveland's best catch-and-shoot three-point options (Anthony Parker, Daniel Gibson and Christian Eyenga...that's right, I said Eyenga), two of them were sitting next to Scott.

Ramon Sessions and Jamario Moon combined to make a great defensive play on Dirk Nowitzki, swooping down in the paint where Dirk slipped a pick-and-roll to deflect the pass and give the Cavs a chance. But instead of calling timeout, Byron Scott allowed his guys to race up court and set something up themselves.

Bam! Stop it right there. With a team like this, in a situation like they're in, you can't rely on them to get a clean look in a few seconds off a helter-skelter play. You ever see the reaction from little kids when a pinata is busted open? It's a madhouse—they scramble all over the place trying to get the biggest share.

That's exactly what happened with the Cavs, though. The "bigger kids" (the veterans - Antawn Jamison and Parker) had been going for the most candy they could grab down the stretch. Down eight with three minutes to go, Jamison chucked a horrible contested 20-foot baseline jumper (and missed). He then put up two quick three pointers in a span of about 20 seconds—one did cut the lead to three but the other came with about 19 on the shot clock when the Cavs had a chance to actually run something on offense and potentially cut the lead to one...or even tie it.

Watching the final two minutes, I couldn't help but think of Celtics coach Doc Rivers when he continuously stresses to his team in huddles to "don't try to be the hero and don't take the hero shot." Unfortunately, instead of playing like a team and doing what had kept them in the game for the first 46 minutes, the Cavs played "hero ball", as Rivers would say, in the last two minutes with the above-mentioned quick shots by Jamison, a charge call on J.J. Hickson with less than a minute to go, and the decision by Parker to not call time-out and instead pull-up for the game-tying 3.

(Well, I should retract a bit. They played hero ball for 1:58 of the last two minutes—once they got the rebound with about two seconds left, no one wanted a piece of the final shot.)

Parker and Jamison are the veterans on this team. They deserve better than to toil away the last few productive years of their career on a team that has lost 25 consecutive games. But at the same time, they need to realize their days of being the hero by taking contested shots are over. Their biggest assets to the team come with leadership and providing a calming influence over the young guys in the final minutes, not a frantic one.

Then again, if Parker would have come down court and dished to Moon, we'd all be saying "what they hell were you doing?!?" The whole scenario was a no-win situation and that's why it falls back on the coach.

So what now for the Cavs? Where do they go from here? How can you possibly pick up the pieces and move on with a roster that has dropped 25 in a row?

It might actually be little easier than expected. If the last four games have shown anything, it's that this roster does have a few talented young pieces that can play in the league, that they do have a strong competitive streak, that they can, contrary to popular belief, win a few games in the final two months.

The Cavs have been showcased more in the last week than they have since Dec. 2. It started with the game against LeBron and the Heat and the losses to Memphis, Portland and Dallas have all each had some historical significance. The national media has broken out every angle available: is this the worst team ever, woe is Cleveland, LeBron left them rattled, etc.

For the last few days my Twitter timeline has filled with Cavs related stories and tidbits from NBA scribes all over the country. And it'll undoubtedly stop after today. The rest of the country will forget, until the Cavs finally win a game, then it'll slip into the back of their minds for good.

As a Cleveland fan I've become accustomed to not saying "it can't get any worse" because it some how, some way finds a way to get worse. But not this time. The Cavs already have the record—it's done and there's no going back. Now they can get away from the spotlight, so to speak, and just play.

Better days are ahead...they have to be.


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