Cavaliers win finale, but questions loom
CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Cavaliers began and ended their season with wins against the Brooklyn Nets at Quicken Loans Arena. It was the 80 games in between that did them in.
With a 114 -85 win over the playoff-preparing Nets on Wednesday night, the Cavs will enter an offseason filled with dark shadows and inevitable change.
Mike Brown seems destined to have a meeting with team owner Dan Gilbert in the next few days. Gilbert set a goal for the Cavs to get out of the lottery this year, which they failed to do.
“I’m thankful for Dan, for the opportunity he has given me and my family,” Brown said. “Whatever decision he makes with anything, I’m going to support him.”
As for the game itself, Tyler Zeller had a game high 22 points with 11 rebounds, and Dion Waiters added 19. They did so against a depleted Nets team.
Brooklyn head coach Jason Kidd played only seven players in order to rest his aging veteran team, which will either be the fifth or sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Andray Blatche and Marcus Thorton scored 20 each for the Nets.
“For us, it doesn’t matter that they (Brooklyn) did not have all their guys,” Brown said. “We’re not in the same position. They have a lot of veterans on their team. They have a couple guys individually that have more playoff years than everybody who plays for us. We needed to play the right way. I’m proud of all our guys.”
The Cavaliers finished the 2013-14 season with a record of 33-49, the ninth worst record in the NBA. The Cavaliers ended up with nine more wins than last season.
Both Brown and Kyrie Irving discussed how the Cavs got the opportunity to play meaningful games down the stretch.
“It was a constant curve out there, just learning how to be a better player,” Irving said. “I was challenged ever single night. I was put in a position to lead this team. We came up short. I came up short. But there is a lot of fire in my heart to say the least.”
The first overall pick in last year’s NBA draft, Anthony Bennett, played for the first time since March 8, and recorded seven points and seven rebounds in 15 minutes. Bennett had a pair of monster dunks, one right as he came onto the floor and the other just before he exited the game.
As it was fan appreciation night, and Brown acknowledged the fans during his post-game press conference.
“You look up in the stands, you understand (our) record, and our building is full,” Brown said. “You really appreciate the fans, the people here in Cleveland. They are like no other. I experienced it when I was here before. It is the same thing now, even though we are not in the same position.”