The quixotic whispers of summer, once lined with silver rays of hope during the offseason, now lay hushed within the dark corridors of the Quicken Loans Arena, their muted tones curdling slowly in the shade of vivid doubt. When I think of Cleveland and the return of LeBron James to the city’s much beloved Cavaliers, I don’t think of the pseudo golden arcs of the self-proclaimed King’s crown, I think of a few lyrics from Procol Harum’s psychedelic rock song, “Conquistador”:
Though I came to jeer at you,
I leave now with regret,
And as the gloom begins to fall,
I see there is no areole,
And though you came with sword held high,
You did not conquer,
The press, the fans, the crowd had such bewildering hope for Cleveland with the return of the King and the acquisition of Kevin Love, but it all seemed to be talk as the Cavaliers seem to be sinking in the mud in the Eastern Conference as James and Love hoist up their supporting characters upon their backs during games. And now with James sitting at least two weeks due to left knee and lower back strains, the burden to carry the team falls on Love’s alabaster shoulders as he attempts to forget the fact that Cleveland is a weak 1-3 when the MVP sits.
Well, now 1-4 thanks to the Dallas Mavericks.
Following in line behind starters Monta Ellis and Dirk Nowitzki, who got the visitors going fast right out of the gate, the Mavericks proved quickly on why they have one of the best offenses in the entire league – especially with the acquisition of Rajon Rondo. Even though Dallas got off to a quick start, former Mav, Shawn Marion, managed to tie up the game at 21 with a fake floater followed by a feed for an assist. Regardless of the work Marion put in for the Cavs, Dallas led 28-25 after the first.
Second quarter action included witnessing Rondo banking a straightway 17-footer and bench player Al-Farouq Aminu looking better offensively than defensively, which doesn’t strike the right cord with the Mavericks, whose defense has improved dramatically since the Rondo trade in December. Mavs headed to the locker room leading, 57-47, despite Love’s 18 points and giving up 11 second-chance points to the home team.
Dallas came back in the game by hitting 11 of their 14 points during the start of the third and led by as much as 20 before closing the quarter edging out Cleveland 89-71.
Regardless of Kevin Love’s 30 overall points, he couldn’t carry the dead weight of his teammates on his back when facing a team who was shooting 56.4 percent and had tacked on 30 assists. Cavs would end up falling to the white-hot Mavericks, 109-90.
Figuring out how to work as a team without their leader is a quagmire that Cleveland needs to reevaluate since they can’t rely solely on James if they want to make it to the playoffs in the weak East and ending up facing a dangerous predator missile like the Mavericks. If they want to keep visions of sparkling aureoles in their sight, it’s going to take some serious effort.
Dallas moves on to play the Brooklyn Nets in the tail end of a back-to-back on Monday night.