It’s been a rough go of things for the Cavaliers lately. Injuries. Losses. Brutal schedule.
Add it up, and while the Cavs (9-9) have remained determined and continue to play with pride, they’ve lost four straight.
But coach J.B. Bickerstaff seems to think the aforementioned obstacles aren’t the only things the Cavs have had to overcome. Basically, Bickerstaff feels as if favorable calls to opposing stars and inconsistent officiating overall have played a role in the Cavs’ struggles.
He never came out and said that, but he sure did allude to it.
“We matched intensity, but what we have to do and have happen is match consistency,” Bickerstaff told reporters after Monday’s home loss to the Nets. “That’s in our performance. That’s the referee’s performance. That’s in all aspects of the game. We saw it tonight, we saw it the other night.
“We have to find a way — as a staff, as players — to earn people’s respect, where (the officiating) is consistent. That’s what this league is about. This league is about your reputation and you earn your reputation. Those guys have earned their reputation. What’s right is right. I thought there were some calls that were definitely missed tonight that favored (Brooklyn), and that’s wrong. Our guys deserve better than that.”
Bickerstaff went on to say the Cavs deserve the same respect as some of their more decorated opponents. After all, they’ve earned it.
“We have to continue to keep pushing and keep scrapping until everybody in the league gives us that respect,” he said. “The scrap, the toughness, the way we compete, people should respect that. But I don’t think they’re watching. I don’t think they’ve seen the reputation that we’ve earned around the league.
“If you talk to other coaches, the teams we faced, there’s a respect there that we deserve, and that our guys have earned. But too many times there’s been critical moments where the consistency (in officiating) hasn’t been the same one end to the other end.”
As for the Cavs’ overall, Bickerstaff is pleased. He is making the most of a sometimes difficult hand, which has included a bevy of early-season injuries, most notably to rookie forward Evan Mobley (elbow) and guard Collin Sexton (knee, out for season).
“It’s their togetherness and commitment to one another and how we want to play,” Bickerstaff said. “These dudes scrap. We get down, they find a way to dig out of it together. We compete our tails off and we share the ball and share the game. I think that’s the identity that we’re working to create and these guys have bought into it.
“That’s the most impressive thing is we’ve seen ourselves be in adverse situations, but we haven’t seen anybody vary from that and go off and do it on their own. They’ve all tried to figure out how they can best do it in their role and help the team, because they’re committed to it.”