INDEPENDENCE — The Cavaliers’ stay of execution has been extended at least one more night.
The Detroit Pistons’ victory at Atlanta on Tuesday means the Cavaliers still aren’t officially eliminated from the postseason, only realistically. They will be mathematically eliminated with one more Hawks victory or one more Cavs loss.
The Cavs host the Pistons today in the final meeting between two of the bigger disappointments in the disappointing Eastern Conference.
Despite Dan Gilbert’s best efforts and latest prediction, the Cavs certainly appear headed back to the draft lottery for a fourth consecutive season, meaning Ping-Pong balls, good-luck charms and probability charts will be part of life from now until the May 20 lottery drawing.
The Cavs are ninth in the lottery standings, leaving them with a 1.7 percent shot at once again winning the No. 1 overall pick (17 chances out of 1,000 number combinations).
They’re awfully long odds, but not impossible. The Chicago Bulls won the 2008 lottery out of the ninth spot following a 33-49 finish and came away with Derrick Rose, making them the only team to win the lottery from the ninth position in the 29-year history of the event.
If they remain ninth, they’ll have a 2 percent chance at drafting second and a 2.4 percent chance of picking third. But the odds are overwhelming (81.3 percent) they stay right where they are and draft ninth.
There is still room to maneuver. They’re now two games away from catching the Pistons for the eighth spot in the lottery odds and 1½ games away from the New Orleans Pelicans, who as of now are projected to draft 10th.
This marks the first time in Mike Brown’s career as a head coach he will miss the playoffs. Each of his first six seasons ended in at least the conference semifinals after his teams qualified and beat their first-round opponents.
The last time Brown wasn’t part of the playoffs (excluding last season when he was fired by the Los Angeles Lakers) was 1999 when he was part of the Washington Wizards.
“This is a little bit of an experience for me as a head coach,” Brown said last week as the team’s chances were fading. “It’s a little different. It’s still … just trying to lay a foundation with a group of guys and growing with a group of guys to me has been a challenging but rewarding experience, especially when you start seeing it pay off the right way consistently. And we’re starting to get a little more consistent with what we’re doing on both ends of the floor.”
Despite the disappointing finish, Brown is still encouraged by the Cavs’ improvement defensively. They vaulted from 30th in defensive field-goal percentage to 13th. Of the teams in front of them in defensive rankings, only the Memphis Grizzlies are not going to the playoffs and they’re still 13 games above .500.
“The guys have done a good job of buying in on that side of the floor,” Brown said. “We talked about that as being one of the primary areas of focus coming in, so you feel good for the guys.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.
By Jason Lloyd
©2014 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)
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