Cleveland Cavaliers shooting guard Dwyane Wade knows what winning basketball looks like, and what he has seen lately is something altogether different.
Following Sunday’s 117-115 loss to the Atlanta Hawks (2-8, 2-5 away from home), a game in which the Cavaliers (4-6) allowed 37 first-quarter points, Wade sounded off on what needs to be done for Cleveland to get back to their winning ways.
“It’s no secret in this locker room,” Wade said. “Our first unit, we’ve got to start off better. I want, one time, for our first unit to get on the second unit because we blew a lead. I’m waiting for that day to happen. We’ve definitely got to start off better.
“I know it’s a long season and we’ve got time to correct it, but you don’t want to be losing these games right here. This was a team that came in 1-8. With the team, if they don’t have go-to players and they’re just playing freelance basketball, we’re in trouble and they’re tearing us up. We’ve definitely got to figure that out because that’s going to be a lot of the teams that we play.”
Like Wade, Cavaliers small forward LeBron James felt there was “no energy” early in Sunday’s loss to the Hawks, who outscored Cleveland, 37-28, in the first quarter and never relinquished the lead.
“The effort was pretty bad, and you turn the corner, but you can’t fix it in one game,” James said. “This is something that’s been going on for a while, so we’ve just got to try to figure it out, but tonight, we fell into that again.
“We’ve just got to try to find a way. Guys are in and out, different lineups and everything, things of that nature, but the energy and effort from everybody, we don’t want to single anybody out, but everyone has to step up their play in order for us to be as good as we would like to be.”
Eventually, the Cavaliers cut Atlanta’s lead down to a single possession late in the fourth quarter, but could not finish off the comeback.
“I’m been in that first unit when we’ve started slow,” Wade said. “Sometimes, it’s not a sense of urgency early in games. Right now, we need a sense of urgency until we get clicking everywhere. Until everyone gets comfortable, we need that sense of urgency to win games.
“We’re not just going to win games by showing up or by having the best player in the game (LeBron James). We’re not going to win games that way right now. It’s going to be hard to win. We’ve got to come in here after games and just be exhausting, no matter if the team’s 1-8 or a team’s 7-2 right now. Until we understand that, there’s going to be a lot of games like this.”