The Cleveland Cavaliers held the No. 1 spot in the Eastern Conference since November, but a recent skid, capped off by a 103-74 loss to the San Antonio Spurs at AT&T Center Monday night, has done away with their lead over the Boston Celtics, who are percentage points behind after Wednesday’s loss to Milwaukee.
But as the Cavaliers (47-26) approach the final nine games of the regular season, starting with tonight’s contest against the Chicago Bulls at United Center, they know there is plenty of work to be done ahead of the postseason.
“We have no choice,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I know our guys are tired, but 100 percent of the league is tired. There’s 10 games left in the season. Everybody’s fighting for playoff positions and trying to make the playoffs.
“It’s no excuse. It’s been a tough schedule for us, but everybody’s been through it. We’ve just got to continue to play through it. We’re champs. We’re going to get everyone’s best shot. We know that, and now, we’ll see what we’re made of. This tests your character when you’re going through a tough stretch like this, and it’s good for us to see who we are.”
The Cavaliers have been on the road for 12 of their 17 games during the month of March, and are 6-9 heading into tonight’s game against the Bulls, who have defeated Cleveland in all three of the previous meetings this year.
“You respect everyone, but you fear nobody,” Lue said. “I don’t think this team fears anyone. We’ve got to do a better job with what we’re trying to do, but as far as fear, no, I don’t see that.
“Now, we’ve just got to figure out who we are. It could be worse. You could be not jockeying for the first and second. You could be jockeying for the eighth and ninth. We’re losing some games. It’s a tough stretch.”
Although the Cavaliers have gone through a tough stretch that has seen them lose two straight games and go just 5-5 over their last 10 outings, they are focusing on regrouping ahead of the playoffs and do so confident in their abilities.
“I’m not going to fold,” Lue said. “The team’s not going to fold. We still are the champs and teams, they’ve got to beat us. Once we get to the playoffs, then we’ve got to lock in and do what we need to do, but no need to panic. We are who we are and we know that. We lost some games, and it’s been a tough stretch, but so what.”
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Article Courtesy of WKYC Channel 3 News Cleveland
Picture Courtesy of Nathaniel S. Butler and Getty Images