Count Cleveland Cavaliers General Manager David Griffin as one who is not exactly pleased with the way his team is performing as we look towards the playoffs.
In a conversation with reporters before the Cavs' regular season finale with the Raptors at the Q on Wednesday evening, Griffin seemed to let out some frustration that's been building. The Wine and Gold's loss 98-83 loss to Toronto solidifies the Cavs as the #2 seed in the East, when they seemingly had home court advantage under lock and key.
The defending NBA Champions are also heading into the playoffs after finishing 12-15 since the All Star Break. The last team to advance to the Finals with a losing 2nd half record? The 1969 Boston Celtics.
“I think we’ve treated the regular season where we’re going to flip a switch. Most of that brought on by injuries and changes in lineups, but I think some of that is we tend to think we’re better than we are at times," Griffin began. "You’ve seen we have the capability in the regular season to be very, very good when we’re all connected and dedicated to the same thing.
Then Griff dropped this little warning: "I’d be lying if I said I there wasn’t reason to be concerned."
It's not that the Cavaliers General Manager doesn't think this team is still championship caliber. Not at all. "We’re more talented than we were this time last year," he said. "More hardened, more seasoned. So I’m no less confident. I’m more pissed off that we put ourselves in this position because we certainly didn’t need to."
When the Cavaliers went into Boston one week ago and destroyed the Celtics, Cleveland had a magic number of two for the top record in the Eastern Conference with four games to go. The Cavs proceeded to then sleepwalk their way to a loss to Atlanta at home on Friday, then blow a 26 point lead to those same Hawks in an overtime loss on the road Sunday.
By the time the Cavs arrived in Miami on Monday, they had pretty much conceded the East to Boston by resting LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. Kevin Love joined his 'Big 3' bandmates on the bench for Wednesday's game against Toronto.
So now some doubt is creeping in as to whether or not the Cavs can just waltz their way to the NBA Finals for a third consecutive year.
"You’d love to go 82-0 and have everyone sing your praises, but that’s certainly not what we did. I’ve said it for three years...we’re bad from the front, and we proved it again," said Griffin with a touch of dejection.
But when you have LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, the frown can get turned around pretty quickly. As he reflected, Griff found some positivity.
"In many ways it’s a real blessing for us. It’s how we like it, Griffin stated. "This team is much more comfortable with its back against the wall and when everyone says we can’t do it. I’m really optimistic that we have the right people in the room that will react to adversity the way they always have."
We'll find out starting on Saturday when the Cavaliers host the Indiana Pacers for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at the Q. Tip-off set for 3:00 p.m.