Cleveland Cavaliers' Awful Weekend Proves It's Too Early to Call Them Contenders

Greg Swartz@@CavsGregBRCleveland Cavaliers Lead WriterJanuary 22, 2012

Because the Cleveland Cavaliers came out of the gate this year to the tune of a 6-6 record, many around the league believed the Cavs' rebuilding plans were way ahead of schedule.  After all, they found themselves with a seventh seed in the East and a return to the playoffs on the line. 

It's easy for fans to want to say, "Yeah, let's go for it!  Forget the draft, we can win now!" But this just simply isn't the case.

For those who believed this team was ready to contend, you obviously didn't watch this weekend's games.

On Friday night against a Chicago Bulls team playing without league MVP Derrick Rose, the Cavaliers got taken behind the woodshed and beaten to the score of 114-75, marking the worst home loss in franchise history.

The following night wasn't much better, as Cleveland flew into Atlanta to play a Hawks team without All-Star center Al Horford.  Again, the Cavs decided to take the night off defensively, getting throttled 121-94.

When asked by reporters how the last two games compared to last season's 19-win team that at one point lost 26 games in a row, veteran Antawn Jamison said, "It's worse than last season."

While that may be a bit exaggerated, I can't think of any game (save for against the Lakers in LA) that looked as bad as the Cavs did the last two nights.

A couple things to keep in mind, however.

One, Atlanta and Chicago are two of the top teams in the East, if not the entire NBA.  The Bulls currently sit in first place and the Hawks are a game out of second.

The Cavaliers' wins this season have come against the Detroit Pistons, New Jersey Nets, Charlotte Bobcats twice, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns.

The combined record of these teams:  24-56.

Their record against teams with a winning record:  0-6.

The schedule only gets tougher from here on out, as the Cavs now travel to Miami to play the Heat on Tuesday and have games against the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics (twice), Orlando Magic and Dallas Mavericks in the next two weeks.

After getting embarrassed the last two games, it will be interesting to see how Cleveland responds when taking on some of the NBA's best. 

For the season, the Cavs are giving up 99 points per game, 24th overall in the league.  Their scoring remains in the middle of the pack at 94.8, good for 16th in the league.  This ratio of points scored to points allowed is not one of a playoff team.

Simply put, this Cavaliers team has a lot of nice pieces, but they are far from ready to compete in the East.

Cavs fans need to continue to remain patient and endure the losing for now, as we now have Kyrie Irving as a result of that patience from last year.  Another year will get us another player like Irving, as it did in Oklahoma City when they drafted Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in back-to-back years.

The best we can hope for the Cavs this season is to see individual growth from players such as Irving, Tristan Thompson, Omri Casspi, Alonzo Gee, Semih Erden, Samardo Samuels and other young players that may be a part of the future.

A trade for another 2012 first-round pick would help, too.

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