On Friday, when the Cavs lost to the Hawks without four of their starters, we all thought Cleveland had hit rock bottom. Apparently the bottom was much farther down than we thought.
The Cavs blew a 26-point, fourth-quarter lead to lose to the Hawks on Sunday, 126-125 in overtime -- in one of the most shocking losses of the NBA season. The Hawks became just the third team in NBA history to come back from at least 26 points down in the fourth to win the game.
Atlanta is the third team in NBA history to come back from at least 26 points down in the fourth quarter and win the game.— Hawks PR (@HawksPR) April 9, 2017
After Friday’s loss the Cavs clearly came out with a purpose, raining 3-pointers and playing with energy early. LeBron James clearly had an extra pep in his step, dunking like crazy and making Globetrotter-esque moves all over the court.
It looked like the perfect response to a lackluster game -- a focused, energetic effort to prove that Friday was an unacceptable fluke.
Kyrie Irving had one of his best games of the season (he finished with 45 points and nine assists) as Cleveland took a 26-point lead into the fourth quarter. But that’s when it all started to unravel. The Hawks slowly chipped away at the lead until they finally forced overtime with a Paul Millsap baseline jumper as time expired in regulation.
The Hawks held on to win it in overtime, as the Cavs looked exasperated, deflated and confused on the sideline. LeBron had to watch the conclusion of the game from the bench after fouling out in overtime.
After the back-to-back simply unfathomable losses to the Hawks, the questions about the Cavs have only gotten more pressing. Are they capable of sustaining the necessary level of effort and concentration for four playoff series?
We’ll have to wait and see.