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Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Cavs Play Final Game of the Season, And Last at the 'Q' Tonight

Posted By on Tue, Apr 9, 2019 at 4:41 PM

click to enlarge Channing Frye retires from the NBA tonight. - SCENE ARCHIVES PHOTO
  • Scene Archives Photo
  • Channing Frye retires from the NBA tonight.
What has been a mostly forgettable first season in the second post-LeBron era comes to an end tonight at home vs. the Charlotte Hornets.

With a 19-62 record going into the final game, the season is definitely a disappointment when viewed through the lens of preseason expectations, where optimistic fans thought the team could compete for a playoff spot in the lowly Eastern Conference.

Early injuries to Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson, two of only four key players left from the 2016 NBA Championship season, combined with early struggles of young prospects like Cedi Osman and Collin Sexton, quickly derailed the season.



When an NBA season unravels early, and the coach gets fired like Tyronn Lue did, teams often pivot towards playing for a draft pick.

After the slow start, it appeared that the Cavaliers would easily head for a bottom-3 record, which, with the new lottery odds, would give the team a tie for the best odds for the No. 1 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, and with that, a chance to pick Duke University freshman phenom Zion Williamson.

Yet, with the return of Love and Thompson, the emergence as Osman as a legit rotation wing, and Sexton as an electric scoring guard, the team actually strung together some wins, including going 5-3 over an 8-game stretch in February and early March.

Injuries and timely resting of key players however turned things around for the worse (or better) and with three games remaining, the team clinched a bottom-3 record (they go into the final game tied with Phoenix for the second-worst record and can either finish second or third-worst.) With that, they are guaranteed a 14-percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick, same as the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns.

This dismal season will end with the team finishing with the fourth or fifth least amount of wins in their 48-year franchise history,  But, while this year certainly was not nearly as exciting as the previous four seasons, which resulted in trips to the NBA Finals, things actually went kind of well if you're looking towards the future of the organization.

The Cavs now get a chance at Zion Williamson. Sexton, Osman and Larry Nance Jr. look like real NBA players (who seem to have a hell of a good time playing together). And instead of hanging on to championship nostalgia, the team can rebuild and hope to compete again some time in the future.

While most fans just checked the scores and saw the Cavaliers getting blown out most nights, diehards watched a team that competed hard on a nightly basis despite a clear lack of talent. Oh, and beloved fan-favorite Matthew Dellavedova was brought back to town via a midseason trade.

In the final game tonight, we say goodbye to a Cleveland legend, sharp-shooting big man Channing Frye, a 13-year NBA veteran who is retiring. Frye, who was acquired via trade during the 2015-16 season, came to Cleveland and was widely credited for bringing a camaraderie and chemistry to the team that ultimately broke the 52-year championship drought in the city.

Along with Love and best friend and former teammate Richard Jefferson, the three formed a lifelong bond and playfully call themselves "The Triangle." Frye, Jefferson and former Cavaliers' Fox Sports Ohio sideline reporter Allie Clifton also started the beloved Road Trippin' Podcast with LeBron's Uninterrupted media company.

Frye re-signed with the Cavaliers before the season after being traded to the Los Angeles Lakers at last season's trade deadline. He will be missed by teammates and fans alike.

Finally, with the recent announcement that the name of the arena will change from Quicken Loans Arena to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, it's the last time we'll hear the Cavaliers playing in Quicken Loans Arena. And with the change, hopefully next year will yield more competitive basketball than this one did.

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