Darius Garland says: Cleveland Cavaliers’ “frightening opponent” in championship

Brooklyn – During the team’s dinner Wednesday night inside their luxury hotel in Orlando, Cleveland Cavaliers coach JB Bickerstaff did not give a speech. He didn’t even think about the season.

At that point, even after a crushing loss to the miserable Orlando Magic, the Cavaliers still had two games to play. A small piece of what they wanted was at hand. No longer viable, the top six were in control of their own playing destiny – a chance to get closer to the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference and host a 7-8 match.

That fell on Friday night. The Cavs lost in Brooklyn, 118-107, dropping to No. 8, behind a mercury net thanks to the tiebreaker.

With one game left – at home on Sunday afternoon against the Milwaukee Bucks – the exact 7-10 standings are unclear. Some scenarios are complicated.

For the Cavs, it’s clear: Beat Milwaukee. This is the outcome, still under their control, that will keep them in a 7-8 game – with two strands (if necessary) in winning the playoff game and entering the playoffs.

Call it false bravado, youthful naivety, or simply a firm belief that was formed during the first half of the season. Despite a slippage in the second half (8-15 since the All-Star break, 2-8 in the last 10) and a lack of clarity on the state of play that Garrett Allen plays on Sunday – and beyond – the team returned to Cleveland late Friday night believing that no He still has a chance to fight.

“We are afraid with or without him,” Darius Garland said when asked about Allen after the loss. “There are a lot of teams that don’t want to see us with or without him. We take him back, great. If we don’t, great. We still play basketball games.”

How much is the question.

Meanwhile, hosting the Cavs Bucks, whose stars may or may not rest, the Nets will welcome the Indiana Pacers tank. Sports often do the unexpected, but Indiana has lost eight straight games, two of them by at least 30 points.

The Cavs’ return to seventh place requires a win over Milwaukee And The net loses to the Pacers. In other words, the nets are close to finishing seventh and hosting on Tuesday.

“That’s a good team out there. We’re a really good team. If we do match it will be another good match,” said Garland.

The ninth-ranked Atlanta Hawks play Houston’s worst team in the league.

Charlotte, winner of two straight chassis, will face the Washington Wizards, who have locked in Kyle Kuzma and Quintavius ​​Caldwell Bob until the end of the season.

It looks like Brooklyn, Atlanta and Charlotte – the triple team around the Kavs in the standings – are headed for the ultimate victories.

Cleveland will have to do its part, with or without Allen.

“We’ve been preaching this all year. Regardless of anyone who advances, they’re going to play hard and try their best to win, so we haven’t been healthy all year and a lot of other teams haven’t been healthy all year long,” Garland said. To be here this year – ever. We are happy with the progress. Keep learning. Keep getting better. Look where we landed.”

Of all the teams involved, the Clevelands appear to be the most vulnerable while the Nets are formidable, the kind of talent-rich opponent some might try to avoid. Does this opinion bother Bickerstaff?

“Not at all,” he said. “Visualize or reality Kevin Durant and Keri Irving and the pieces around this team and the way they’re coached, you can understand why people want to do it. But I’ll tell you this: If we’re healthy, we’re not a team that people want to take on either.”

But will they be healthy?

Injuries started early in the season and never went back. Although rookie Evan Mobley returned from a five-game absence on Friday and had an immediate impact, Allen was still off the field with a broken middle finger on his left hand. Allen performed a solo workout in Orlando on Thursday. He did the same before tipping in Brooklyn, wearing a splint for protection and favoring injury during a variety of workouts.

When asked about not being strong during this knockout race, Bickerstaff said, “It’s frustrating and disappointing to be honest with you, but injuries are part of it. The teams that usually have the most success are the teams that stay healthy. Some of that is out. up your will. But I think that whatever it is, we’ve learned a lot about this group. We know what this group can do. As a coaching staff, we know what we have to do, and what we can do schematically with this group in the future going forward. Ahead. Our hope is to put the group on the ground.”

A Cleveland loss on Sunday afternoon could lead to a worst-case scenario, one that seemed unlikely two months ago — a time when the Cleveland team was near the top of the conference hierarchy. There is now a real possibility of falling into the 10th seed.

That could mean a winning game or going home on the road, as the Cavs are only 19-22 years old. That could mean having to win two games to reach the playoffs: winning the game 9-10, then beating the loser in the game 7-8.

The odds are not favorable. Just don’t try to tell Garland that.

We are still in the race, said Garland. “We are all trying to get wins and get into these qualifying rounds. It doesn’t matter what happens, from there. We will play hard to win. This is a basketball game. see another day. We’ve got another game on Sunday, trying to get in that game and see where the chips are going.”

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