Cleveland Cavaliers Big Underdogs Looking To End Streak at Memphis Grizzlies

Mark CrystelContributor IIIFebruary 4, 2011

Cavs coach Byron Scott, who played with the Grizzlies in 1996 and lost 23 games in a row.  Fifteen years later, it's de-ja-vu from the coaching box.
Cavs coach Byron Scott, who played with the Grizzlies in 1996 and lost 23 games in a row. Fifteen years later, it's de-ja-vu from the coaching box.Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

In 1996, Byron Scott played through a 23-game losing streak with the Vancouver Grizzlies.

Fifteen years later he is coaching through a streak that’s one game away from tying the very record he played through with the team his Cleveland Cavaliers are facing on Friday Night in Memphis.

It’s been all downhill for the Cavaliers since LeBron James left.

Business in and around the basketball arena became slower, attendance is down and their star is gone.

The basketball team was bound to have a different look and feel, but nobody quite expected this.

The Cavs opened the season with a respectable 7-9 record until the Celtics came to town and got revenge for the season opening loss.

Then LeBron James came back with the Miami Heat for the first time, and the Cavs have been in self destruction mode ever since.

After Miami embarrassed Cleveland with a 28-point win, the Cavaliers have lost 30 of their last 31 games and are coming into Memphis with a 22-game losing streak.

A loss at Memphis would mean a potential record could be set in Cleveland on Saturday against the Portland Trail Blazers if the Cavs lose, because a 24-game losing streak would no longer leave the 1996 Grizzles with the record for consecutive losses.

Odds makers have listed Cleveland as about a 14-point underdog for Friday’s game, which sounds about right considering the Cavs have lost their games by an average of 15 points during their losing streak. However, a number of those losses included road games at the NBA’s finest such as Orlando, Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, Denver and Utah.

It’s also worth noting the Washington Wizards were nine point underdogs just last weekend at Memphis. The Wizards have a little losing streak of their own when it comes to consecutive losses, but on the road. Now 0-25 on the road, they were 0-22 when they went into Memphis last week. Cleveland is getting five more points.

The Wizards lost that game at Memphis by 14 points, which leaves one to wonder if Cleveland can also stay with the same margin.

Cleveland has lost 17 of their 49 games by 15 points or more this season. But take away NBA power teams Miami, Boston, Orlando and the Lakers, and that number "improves" to 10 games out of 42, less than 25 percent.

Maybe the players don’t care. Some aren’t even keeping count.

"We know we’ve lost 25 or something," Cavaliers guard Ramon Sessions said after their close loss to the Pacers.

But if the Cavs set the record for consecutive losses, it will be something the players will have to live with for the rest of their lives, so look for them to give it their all to avoid this embarrassment.

Memphis has improved from recent years, and they are coming off an 18-point win at Minnesota. But the Grizzlies have won consecutive games by 15 points just once in the last 312 tries, and that’s what must be achieved for them to cover the point spread in this game.

Cleveland lost their last four games handily to four good teams, but gave Indiana all they could handle in their most recent game, which might be indicative of their sense of urgency.

The Cavs were out-rebounded by 17 boards in the loss to Indiana, and a total of 53 in their last three games.

The ball is bound to bounce Cleveland’s way sooner or later, especially if they try jumping a little higher in an attempt to achieve an end to this losing streak.

Assuming the potential embarrassment could fuel some motivation and extra effort, Cleveland might not win the game, but look for them to stay within the 14 point spread as they try to avoid tying the record by losing their 23rd game in a row.