Dennis Schroder, Hawks Stun LeBron James, Cavaliers as Cleveland Drops to 4-6

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2017

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 1: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Atlanta Hawks reacts against the Philadelphia 76ers at the Wells Fargo Center on November 1, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

While it is far too early to panic, the three-time defending Eastern Conference champions are in a tailspin.

The Cleveland Cavaliers fell to 4-6 on the 2017-18 season Sunday with a 117-115 loss to the Atlanta Hawks (2-8) at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland is now a mere 1-5 in its last six games after a 3-1 start, and it lost to the likes of the Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Hawks during the span.

The Cavaliers had the opportunity to win Sunday's game at the end, but Channing Frye missed a three before Dwyane Wade missed a potential game-tying tip-in.

Frye didn't hold back in the aftermath, saying "We suck right now," per Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

Dennis Schroder spearheaded the Atlanta attack with 28 points and nine assists, while seven Hawks finished with double-figure scoring totals.

The first quarter has proved problematic for the Cavaliers, as John Schuhmann of NBA.com noted they are 3-0 when leading or tied after the quarter and 1-6 when trailing after the quarter. Atlanta outscored Cleveland 37-28 in the first on Sunday.

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James did what he could with 26 points, 13 assists, five rebounds, two blocks and a steal against the Hawks. Cleveland's one win in its last six games came Friday against the Washington Wizards when James carried his team with 57 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocks.

The four-time league MVP is doing his part, but he was the only Cavaliers starter to finish with more than 10 points Sunday. What's more, Cavaliers announcer Fred McLeod noted Kevin Love left the contest with an illness.

While James could use some more help, the real issue for the Cavaliers lies with their defense. They are dead last in the league with a defensive rating of 111.7, per NBA.com, and have given up more than 100 points eight games in a row.

The one silver lining for Cleveland is the fact it is just Nov. 5.

This is an experienced bunch led by veterans in James, Love and even the newly acquired Wade. They understand the important part of the season is still months away, although they will have to fix the defense to a degree if they want any chance to beat the Golden State Warriors in a potential fourth straight NBA Finals matchup.

The Cavaliers will have an opportunity to start turning things around Tuesday against Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.

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