The Cavaliers had their starters suited up Friday night in Cleveland, hosting a Hawks team that opted to sit four keystarters.
Game over, right?
Wrong. The Hawks thumped the Cavaliers in Quicken Loans Arena, 114-100, leaving coach Tyronn Lue, LeBron James and everyone else on the Cavs sideline trying to explain how this could happen.
"Obviously a bad performance," coach Tyronn Lue told reporters."To beat Boston and have the game that we had and to come back and not validate it against a team that didn't even play their guys. I didn't think we respected them tonight. I thought we thought we'd just mess around with the game until it was time to knuckle down.
"By that time they already had confidence. That's who we've been. That's who we are. I hate it."
As Lue noted, the loss was especially baffling considering how great the Cavs looked Wednesday night in a 114-91 win over the Celtics in Boston. But a different team showed up Friday night. When asked to compare this loss to other losses this season, Lue was blunt.
"Just stupid, man," Lue said."It's tough because as a coach you're searching and trying to get the right guys out there to bring some energy. Guys have been playing 38 and 39 minutes, and Bron, you know, he seems to have the energy every single night. A lot of times guys are not picking that up. Tonight is where we needed guys to pick up the energy and pick up the slack. We just didn't do it."
"As a group our energy was very low," James, who had a typically solid performance with 27 points, 8 rebounds and 7 assists"I have no idea why, but it was just low.
"You expect for us to want to get better and we were doing that and we took a couple steps back tonight."
The Cavaliers still control their own destiny in clinching the No. 1 seed in the East, as they have a one-game lead over the Celtics with three games to play. Cleveland'smagic number is two.
As fate would have it, the Cavaliers immediately get a chance for revenge,when they face the Hawks Sunday in Atlanta.