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So, just how bad are the Cavaliers?

Jan 26, 2011, 4:59 PM EDT


The 8-37 Cavaliers have lost 18 straight games and 28 of their last 29 on their way to claiming the worst record in the league. That’s the bad news. The worse news is that the Cavaliers are considerably worse than their record indicates.

As bad as the Cavs’ record indicates, the team’s win margin is far uglier: The team is a respectable 2-3 in games decided by three points or less (meaning that a full 25% of the team’s wins have come by three points or less), and the Cavs are an abysmal 0-24 in games decided by 10 points or more. To provide some perspective on that last statistic, the 10-34 Timberwolves are 6-15 in games decided by 10 points or more. The Vegas spread for Tuesday’s Cavaliers-Celtics game was 17 points, and that ended up being a push.

If it wasn’t for the team’s 7-8 start (which was the product of a miracle win against the Celtics and weak scheduling), the Cavaliers would almost certainly be in the hunt for the worst record ever. As it is now, the Cavaliers are chasing the dubious “honor” of being one of the only teams to finish the season with the lowest offensive and defensive efficiency in the league. I’ll let Zach Lowe of The Point Forward explain:

As the Celtics approached 70 points during the first half last night, I found myself wondering if Cleveland might wind up dead last in both offensive efficiency (points per 100 possessions) and defensive efficiency (points allowed per 100 possessions).

The Cavs have been last in offensive efficiency for a while now — a remarkable thing, considering how bad Milwaukee’s offense has been — and Tuesday’s night’s effort in Boston dropped Cleveland to into a tie with Toronto for the next-to-last spot in the defensive efficiency rankings. Only the Suns stand in between the Cavs and a unique level of infamy.

That naturally prompted a question that both Neil Paine of Basketball-Reference and I tackled this morning: Has any team finished last in both categories?

Turns out, two have pulled the trick in the three-point era (starting in the 1979-80 season):

• The 1986-87 Los Angeles Clippers (12-70, Player Efficiency Rating Leader — Michael Cage, 17.1): 101.2 points scored/100 possessions vs. 112.3 points allowed/100 possessions. Net difference: -11.1.

The 1992-93 Dallas Mavericks (11-71, PER later–Derek Harper, 15.9): 99.5 points scored/100 possessions vs. 114.7 points allowed/100 possessions. Net difference: -15.2.

Currently, the Cavaliers are losing games by an average of 12.1 points per game, which would be the fourth-worst mark since the 1979-80 season if the season ended today. And that point margin will likely be worse by the end of the season.

In short, the Cavaliers have not won in over a month, they are losing by historically wide margins, they were the worst team in basketball when healthy and have suffered a slew of injuries, and they will need to beat either the Nuggets, Heat, or Magic to prevent going winless in January. Times are bleak in Cleveland, and there won’t be many happy times for Cavalier fans before the 2011 draft — which the Cavaliers are assured a high pick in, at least.

  1. bigtrav425 - Jan 26, 2011 at 11:57 PM

    As much as i miss cable im glad i dont have it/cant afford it right now becasue i would be torturing myself with these games! Im not surprised were not good but i am surprised we have sucked this bad!……Just gotta grin and bear it for now..i got faith in Gilbert. he will do all he can

  2. frankvzappa - Jan 27, 2011 at 2:14 AM

    i hate LBJ, but Gilbert should be a villain in Cleveland for not surrounding the guy with anything better than these amateurs…no wonder he took off…i dont think MJ could have won a title with those clowns

  3. browniebuck - Jan 27, 2011 at 5:11 AM

    @frankvzappa…hold tight there, Kemosabe!

    Daniel Gilbert did everything in his power to surround the pompous, arrogant, self-proclaimed “King” with the talent needed to win a championship. The “King” screwed the city of Cleveland by refusing to commit (seems that he knew he wouldn’t be sticking around a LONG time before “the Decision”). Had the “King” decided to commit to Cleveland, Trevor Ariza AND Ron Artest would have signed with the Cavaliers as free agents…but when they asked the “King” about his future, he refused to commit. All Daniel Gilbert could do was make trades at that point, and he had to get the guys that the “King” wanted without giving up the guys that the “King” wanted to keep. Amar’e would have been a Cav had the “King” been willing to part with JJ Hickson. If you think for a minute that the Cavs wouldn’t have been able to bring in the 3rd piece with the “King” and Amar’e to create their own “Big 3”, you are mistaken.

    Don’t put the blame all on Gilbert…the “King” was given too much power, for which I do blame Daniel Gilbert…but ultimately, the “King” knew his plan all along and didn’t care who he hurt on his way to South Beach.

    • deeznutzinyamouth - Jan 27, 2011 at 1:14 PM


      First off , where is the proof that Ariza and Artest were willing to join the Cav’s if Lebron stayed? Next, where was it ever written that Stoudemire wanted to be apart of the Cav’s?

      Lastly, Lebron made a decision that benefited him, name me one athlete that has not made a decision for themselves and their financial benefit. Do you honestly think that these athletes care about thefans? Come on man, if you do then you need to take off the rose colored glasses and step into the real world.

      The only douche bag thing that Lebron did was go on ESPN and announce his decision, no one will argue with you that he totally mishandled that whole situation; even Lebron admits he could have handled it better. If he hadn’t gone on TV and made an ass of himself and embarrassed the city of Cleveland, then all these fat slob, working class nobodies in Cleveland would have nothing to bitch about.

    • willeyb296 - Jan 27, 2011 at 3:23 PM

      I would not get excited about having Ron Artest on my team. Who would want that POS? All he wants to do is run his mouth and make rap albums.

      He is no better then Lebum!

  4. trimaster1 - Jan 27, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    Funny how a team can cut a player without any warning or provacation, yet the player is supposed to be loyal till the very end.

    Sound slike a double standard to me. Exactly how many players have been dumped by a team without a second thought? Where’s the outrage?

    Jason Williams just got cut by the Magic. Why not work with him? At least give him a warning? Oh, they don’t have to. That’s their right to cut players at will. Even in mid season.

    In other words, LBJ is gone. MOVE ON.

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