The Cleveland Cavaliers should not have the lost to Boston Celtics on Wednesday night. Byron Scott knows it and the players know it.
The Cavaliers led throughout most of the game and were ahead by as many as 14 points before losing in the final seconds. Boston's Jeff Green provided the game-winning shot that drove a dagger into the weak confidence of the Cavaliers.
To dwindle away a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter has been a trait that has plagued the Cavs most of the season.
Byron Scott addressed losing the fourth quarter lead during the Cavs' post-game conference (via NBA.com):
I thought we stopped being aggressive. We were looking at the clock, playing not to lose the game instead of win the game. With 5:40 left in the game, we get one field goal for the rest of the game. Again, you have to be aggressive. You have to look to win. You can’t hope the clock runs out and I thought that’s what we kind of did.
Injuries are not an excuse for the Cavs. Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters are out, but so are Boston's key players Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett.
What happens to the Cavs in the fourth quarter? They seem to lose confidence in themselves and do not communicate well as the clock winds down.
There were plenty of times the Cavs ran the ball down the court only to play "Hot Potato" once they got under the basket.
There were also times a Cavs player had the ball on a breakaway and cautiously laid it up only to have it roll out of the basket. Alonso Gee provided one of theses examples, and he is not a stranger to the slam dunk. Why not slam it down? Show confidence in yourself make sure the ball goes in the basket.
Poor communication is also something the Cavs have to work on. Their lack of aggression and cohesiveness were highlighted during the last 2.1 seconds of the game.
Wayne Ellignton spoke about their lack of communication during the Cavs' post-game conference, saying:
I feel like at this point, we have to hold ourselves accountable. We’re all professionals here and should all be communicating with each other and helping each other on the defensive end of the floor. I think that’s something we have to take on ourselves and we have to get better at it.
The Cavaliers need to find the answer soon to the unanswered question of why they continue to give up the game in the fourth quarter. Finding that elusive answer will not only ensure more wins, but also job security.