It was a frustrating week for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
First, they play great for two and a half quarters against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, building a 27-point lead, but then blew all of it in a three-point loss that extending the Miami winning streak to 25 games.
Then on Friday night, the Cavs went to Houston and got completely blown out of the building, something that has happened far too many times this season.
That brought out the critics talking about the performance of Byron Scott as coach.
Scott provides a steady hand to a young group of players, but sometimes it appears his players are not listening to the message he is sending. Far too often, the wine and gold appear like they have no idea what to do to attack or stop the opponents.
It reminds of the scene in “Bull Durham”, when Crash Davis tells a befuddled manager how to handle his team. “They’re kids, scare ‘em”.
Sometimes it seems like Scott should take that same tact, and threaten these guys who don’t seem to put out a great effort every night, particularly against the lower tier teams in the NBA.
He did it in a recent game against the Washington Wizards; benching the starters four minutes into a game they were trailing 10-0 at that point.
However, you can’t do that every night. It gets old, and the players don’t feel it’s genuine when you use that all the time.
One of Scott’s few veteran players, Shaun Livingston, has been vocal about his teammates seeming lack of urgency when it comes to doing things needed to win basketball games.
What can GM Chris Grant do?
There are NBA coaches who do display a great deal of fire and intensity on a nightly basis, but those guys don’t have a long shelf life with a team. The coach who best fits that mold is Scott Skiles, who usually provides an initial spark when he takes over a team, but wears out his welcome after a year.
Byron Scott is not that kind of guy, and if you look at the coaches who have been on the job for a significant amount of time, you will find the kind of leaders who treat players like men, and pick their spots as to when they show the players who the boss is.
You would assume that Scott wants to take the persona that will keep him employed for a long time.
Unfortunately, the emotionless coach doesn’t play well with the fans, particularly if the team is losing.
You would hope that today’s players have respect for Scott because he played in the league, and was a good player for a long time on some great teams. Still, it would be better if they played like they respected him.
Perhaps, the coach is taking his time and working with Grant to get the kind of players he wants going forward. And when those players are in place, a consistent effort will be seen every night.
And behind the scenes, hopefully, Scott is stressing to Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, and Tyler Zeller the way to play basketball on the professional level.
It is maddening for the fans when the Cavs perform so schizophrenic; it’s probably more frustrating for the head coach.
However, this is probably the last year Scott will get the benefit of the doubt from the fans, and perhaps more importantly, his owner.