In the moments following the Cleveland Cavaliers' 124-119 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks on Tuesday night, Dwyane Wade did something players rarely do after a big win.
He said 'sorry.'
“We apologize for the way we started the season," the Cavs combo guard said during an in-arena postgame interview. "We’re getting better.”
An apology may not have been necessary, but that's not to say Cleveland fans didn't appreciate the gesture. Through the first three weeks of the 2017-18, the Cavs had amassed a mere 5-6 record while laying claim to one of the leagues worst defenses -- something sometimes more indicative of a team's effort than its talent.
Only furthering the idea that Cleveland's sluggish start was a product of a team not trying its hardest is that the Cavs' losses have come against the lowly likes of Brooklyn, New Orleans, New York, Indiana and Atlanta, while their victories have been against Eastern Conference contenders Boston, Milwaukee (twice) and Washington.
Fortunately for Cleveland, something seemed to click in its most recent outing.
Kevin Love provided an inside presence, scoring 32 points without attempting a 3-pointer, while LeBron James was his usual MVP-caliber self, tallying 30 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds. Factor in a season-high 20 points for starting shooting guard J.R. Smith and strong showings off the bench from Iman Shumpert and Wade and the Cavs finally resembled a team caliber of advancing to a fourth-straight NBA Finals -- even with Kyrie Irving now a member of the Boston Celtics.
Packing their bags for a four-game road trip -- starting with a nationally televised matchup against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night -- the Cavs are hopeful that their win over the Bucks brought an end to the first chapter of their 2017-18 campaign, giving them a fresh start to begin the next one.
"In my experience, what I've learned is that you're going to go through different things throughout the year," Wade said. "This was the first one. The first 10 or 11 games, we went through something. For our fans that come and support us, we failed them by not winning enough games at home and not giving them enough to cheer about.
"But now we move on from this phase, hopefully, and we move into another one."