|Being able to look at
Jenna Fischer made the
decision to turn off the
Cavs oh-so easy.
So I’ve caught a little bit of flack–mostly from JTBI–for publicizing my turning off of the Cavaliers’ dreadful effort in their 89-73* loss last night. I feel compelled this morning to defend not only my turning off of the game but my decision to make it publicly known. (* – I only know the final score because I get a text message at the end of every Cavs game with the final)
The main criticism of turning off any game, much less a playoff game, during a blowout is that you’re not a true believer in your team. I can see this argument, as I vividly remember eviscerating my dad back in 2001 when he and my grandfather left The Jake early on the night of The Greatest Comeback Ever, having never myself turned off the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast. I remember imploring him, “How could you leave? How could you miss the best comeback ever? How?” In my grand finale I think I called him a bad fan 3 or 4 times and stormed off. Certainly, from experience, I can see how it can be unbecoming of a fan to just give up on his or her team… but come on.
There came a point in the third quarter last night when it became crystal clear to this observer that the Cavs simply stopped trying: I do believe it was right around that Garnett and-one breakaway dunk. The effort went right in the toilet and ball security was the first victim. Lebron James, Delonte West, Anderson Varejao and even Big Z–the lone offensive bright spot for the Cavs–all committed horrific turnovers during a brutal 5 minute stretch and before you knew it Boston had turned the last 18 minutes of the game into good, old-fashioned garbage time.
This is not even to mention the shooting, which was putrid again last night, and this time it wasn’t just Lebron. Wally Szczerbiak and Boobie Gibson were missing wide open threes, Varejao was trying–on multiple occasions, no less–to create offense (which may as well be counted as a turnover by the Cavs)… just brutal. The most damning part is that they all just kept jacking up the same damn shots over and over again, somehow convinced that if you take a crappy shot enough times that it will eventually go in. And here I thought the Cleveland Jump Shooters era had ended when Larry Hughes got traded. Silly me.
It was also obvious that Mike Brown wasn’t trying, either. While I understand that Ben Wallace was unavailable due to his bouts of dizziness, there was no excuse to leave Anderson Varejao on the court last night, depth be damned. Between his terrible shooting, his getting posterized by Leon Powe (!) and his stone hands with the ball, most coaches would’ve benched him for the rest of the game. I got to the point last night where I suggested to JTBI that every time Anderson even thought about scoring that he should be suspended by the team for 2 games. It didn’t matter to me who Brown replaced Varejao with, it just mattered that he be replaced. Put in Joe Smith, put in Dwyane Jones, put in a freaking garbage can… just get Anderson off the floor. But, of course, Brown bullheadedly stuck with Varejao as the Brazilian took on the lion’s share of the duty when it came to insuring the Cavs would go home facing a 2-0 series deficit.
Perhaps even worse than Brown continuing to play Varejao was his mystifying offensive decision to go away from Ilgauskas’ mid-range shot. I couldn’t believe that after a 6-6 start in first quarter that Big Z only got 6 more shots for the rest of the game; he’s your hottest shooter and you take the ball out of his hands? In a series where your offense hasn’t been able to hit water from a canoe? Why do we need an “offensive coordinator” for the Cavs, again? Eeesh.
If your team has stopped trying, should you give them the courtesy of continuing to watch? That’s the difference, in my mind, from last night and a game like that 12-run Indians comeback in ’01: the Tribe never stopped trying, Dave Burba just sucked that night. If everyone had just sucked last night it would be one thing–I didn’t turn off the game in the second while everyone sucked it up, after all–but they just flat-out started mailing it in. As a fan, that’s when I feel a team has broken their ‘contract’ with me and I am free to stop watching the game. And so I did just that.
And, for the record, I firmly stand behind watching The Office and 30 Rock last night instead of garbage time… they were funny, the Cavs were supremely frustrating. Easy call.