Ed Puskas: No worries, I think


It was a good news-bad news kind of Sunday afternoon at my house.

The good: I wasn’t subjected to the Cavaliers’ 98-80 series-opening loss to the Indiana Pacers because I somehow do not get the network in question and no amount of pre-game scrambling fixed the problem.

So in between keeping up with Ray Donovan’s adventures in the series of the same name, I checked in on Twitter and Facebook to see how the game was going.

And that was the bad. Social media is where everything is (at best) magnified or (at worst) extremely distorted.

Sunday’s game was no exception.

The Cavaliers fell behind early and really were never in the game, despite a modest run in the second half. They’re down 1-0 in a first-round playoff series for the first time with LeBron James.

The popular social media opinions, in no particular order:

The Cavs didn’t show up.

They don’t care.

They’re terrible.

They play no defense.

Tyronn Lue can’t coach.

The series is over.

LeBron is already in Los Angeles.

And those were the optimistic takes.

Just kidding. The optimistic tweets, posts and opinions were few and far between.

Well, here comes one, and it’s from a guy known far and wide as a purveyor of positive thinking.

Just kidding. “Expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed” has long been my mantra. It’s the Cleveland in me.

But in this case ... relax, everybody. The Cavaliers will still win this series.

Maybe I think that because aside from post-game, um, “highlights,” I didn’t actually see just how bad the Cavs played in Game 1.

The turnovers.

The missed shots.

The non-existent defense.

The coach doing very little in the way of coaching.

But I know all of that and more happened thanks to social media and a stat sheet that is ugly no matter where you look.

The Cavaliers committed seven of their 16 turnovers in the first quarter. They were eight of 34 from 3-point range, and if you subtract Kevin Love and J.R. Smith (a combined six of 12) from the equation, they were 2 of 22.

But strangely enough, these numbers are precisely why I’m not ready to write the Cavaliers’ playoff obituary.

They couldn’t have played any worse and it’s unlikely they’ll do that again.

James played 44 minutes, but attempted just 17 shots and made just seven of them. My best guess is he plays 40 minutes in Game 2, but takes — and makes — a lot more shots.

LeBron will be better Wednesday and so will most of the other guys. They can’t be any worse, right?

But there are some worries. Jeff Green’s numbers — 0 for 7 from the floor, zero points, two assists and one rebound in 27 minutes — can’t be spun into anything resembling a positive.

And Lue, who seems married to the notion of starting Green and playing him extensively, is an enigma. He coached the Cavaliers to an NBA title in 2016, but often looks lost when things go sideways the way they did Sunday. For a defensive guru, Lue has been unable to fix the problems on that side of the ball.

And yet, Cleveland is still the favorite in this series.

It’s unfortunate the Cavaliers picked their playoff opener to play their worst game in weeks, but even after all the ugliness Sunday, it is only one game.

Now if the Cavs lay a similar egg in Game 2, then it will be time to worry.

Write Vindicator Sports Editor Ed Puskas at epuskas@vindy.com and follow him on Twitter, @EdPuskas_Vindy.

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