CLEVELAND -- Before the Cavaliers hosted the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday, Cavs coach David Blatt unleashed a rant during his pregame media availability session, taking exception to coverage of his team since their 132-98 loss to the Golden State Warriors earlier this week.
“I hear a lot of far-reaching conclusions and, personally, I don’t like it, but there’s nothing I can do about it because I’m not the one that’s saying or doing those things,” Blatt said. “I think this team has done pretty well dealing with the adversity that we’ve had. I think this team is in pretty good position, although people choose to overlook that, which I don’t think is fair.”
In terms of adversity, Cleveland was without Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert for the first two months of the season because of injuries, but was able to maintain control of the Eastern Conference in their absence. Timofey Mozgov (knee) and LeBron James (back) also were less than 100 percent coming out of training camp.
Blatt was not finished there.
"I know we are not yet at our best and we can almost be encouraged by that because if we’re in the position that we’re in and we have where to go, in terms of getting better, there’s a positive in that, a real positive," he said.
“You know what, we didn’t get here right now by being a bad team or by having all these problems that suddenly surface when you have a bad game like what we have. We work pretty hard to be, as of today, midseason, in first place in our conference and with some very good wins under our belt and with players finally getting back and being healthy.
“Again, that guarantees nothing, but it shouldn’t be overlooked either. I don’t think it’s fair. Well, I’m not going to say that, excuse me. I don’t like that theory. Fairness is not something I’m going to talk about, excuse me. I don’t think that it’s truly indicative of what we’ve done so far this year.
“You know, we had to work very hard to get to where we are, very hard. We have a ways to go, but I told everyone here that in the very beginning of the year, it was going to take us time. We weren’t a homogeneous unit from day one, with all our guys out and not having a real preseason. We’re OK -- got to get better and we will -- but it shouldn’t be overlooked what we have done so far. It’s easy to do that, but I don’t think it’s right."
Blatt’s statement came virtually unprompted. A reporter asked the second-year coach about James telling reporters in New York on Wednesday that tough times can actually be a positive experience for a team’s growth, and Blatt started to answer the question before veering off in another direction.
Clippers coach Doc Rivers, who is coaching his second high-profile team after roaming the sidelines for the Boston Celtics during their Big Three era of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, said that he has invited scrutiny throughout his career. It meant he was coaching a contender.
“You know, with expectations comes all the other stuff,” Rivers said. “You’d rather have the expectations. That’s the way I’ve always looked at it. I’d rather be under the fire, I guess, because it means that your people believe that you’re playing for something and that’s the position you really want to be in. You know, players just have to handle that.”
Rivers admitted that James creates a different level of attention than most ever experience, even when the weight of title expectations surrounds their team.
“Listen, I just think wherever LeBron James is, there’s a circus,” Rivers said. “In Miami, there was a circus. When he came here, there’s a circus. He’s that good. He brings that much attention. The light doesn’t bother him at all. But it could affect the guys around him. You never know.”
Before Blatt’s pregame remarks were through, a reporter followed up to ask him what exactly he was referring to when he said there were things he “didn’t like” this week.
“No complaints,” Blatt said after joking that he's “been warned” about complaining about coverage of his team not being fair. “Everything is legitimate. Everybody has their job to do. I think on the overall, I don’t know that people always take things in the proper proportion and look at the whole of things.
“It, at times, can be a little upsetting, but we’ve got to play basketball. We’ve got to be the best that we can be and we know that we’re a team that has potential to do great things. We know we can get better and need to get better, but it shouldn’t be so easily overlooked that the team has done something this year.
“No one gave us our position in the league. No one just gave us the number of wins that we have or the winning percentage that we have or any of those things. It didn’t just happen. Names don’t play. At the end of the day, the team does. The team has done something. You know, so, that’s all.”