CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are heading toward the playoffs on an anything but positive note, as they have lost six of their last 11 games, including a 126-125 overtime setback to the Atlanta Hawks at Philips Arena Sunday night.
The Cavaliers (51-29) had a 26-point lead to start the fourth quarter, but were outpaced, 44-18, in the fourth quarter and came up one point short in the overtime session.
“At the start of the fourth, we didn’t get stops,” Cavaliers small forward LeBron James said. “We didn’t get no stops to start the fourth. I think they went on a quick 7-0 run, or maybe a 9-0 run and forced T-Lue to call a timeout. Listen, man, when you allow teams to stick around, that’s what happens.”
By losing a pair of weekend matchups with the Hawks, the first in Cleveland last Friday and the aforementioned Sunday contest, the Cavaliers remain in a tie with the Boston Celtics for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference standings.
Although the Cavaliers have the tiebreaker should the two teams finish with the same record, they have to play the Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors in their final two games of the regular season. The Heat are on the outside of the playoff picture looking in by virtue of a tiebreaker with the Chicago Bulls, so a strong finish could help get them into the postseason, while the Raptors are currently the No. 3 seed.
“For me, it’s never been about the No. 1 seed,” James said. “It’s just about trying to playing as great of basketball as you can every, single night, and what happens, happens. Obviously, the last 10 games, I think we’re 5-5.
“We’ve had some good moments. We’ve had some not-so-good moments. The best thing for our team is we want to go down the stretch and be healthy. When we’re healthy, we can put a gameplan together and compete against anybody in the postseason.”
While the Cavaliers have continued to struggle down the stretch of the regular season and the frustrations have worn on the team, James remains confident that the players and coaches will do what is necessary to go on another deep playoff run.
“Obviously, our year has been a very challenging year, but we’ve got two more games, and then, we’ll get ready for the weekend,” James said.
“We’ll be ready. We’ll be ready when they get here, but we’ve still got some things to do with two games left, but we’ll be ready.”