Ricky Rubio Issues Scathing Take on Cavs’ Intensity With Showdown Looming

Ricky Rubio Cleveland Cavaliers

Getty Ricky Rubio #3 of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There are several ways to characterize the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night. “Frustrating” comes to mind, as the Cavs missed the first ten threes they attempted of the game. “Concerning” is another, considering Cleveland is miles ahead of a Hawks team that hours before fired its head coach.

But if you ask backup guard Ricky Rubio, the answer is probably “flat.” When asked if the Cavs have the right level of intensity for this stage of the season, Rubio candidly offered his opinion.

“Not really,” Rubio told Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. “We have to figure that out. We came out of the All-Star break and this is where you start turning it on for the playoffs. It’s something we have to figure out sooner than later.”

Rubio also drew a stark contrast between Thursday’s gutsy loss to the West’s top-seeded Denver Nuggets and Friday’s blowout to the Hawks.

“Last night we played a really good game. Tonight, was one of the worst performances of the season. We take pride in our defense, we’re the No. 1 defense, and they scored almost 140 points in the game and 81 points at the half. That can’t happen. Need to be better,” Rubio lamented.

Indeed, many of the Cavs’ season-long woes came back to haunt them on Friday, which was the second half of a back-to-back. Cleveland’s three-point shooting, as much of an Achilles Heel as any aspect of the offense, sputtered to the tune of 13-35, or 37.1%. That’s about where Cleveland has been all season from deep; at 36%, the Cavs’ deep shooting is on par with the lottery-bound San Antonio Spurs and Detroit Pistons.

The Cavs need to find that next gear, and soon. They have four games against the Miami Heat and Boston Celtics up soon on the schedule, both of which are potential playoff foes.

Donovan Mitchell to Cavs: ‘It’s Time’

Cavs All-Star Donovan Mitchell kept things simple following the loss to Atlanta.

“It’s time,” Mitchell said, per Chris Fedor of cleveland.com. “It’s that time I was telling you about at the beginning of the year. It’s time to pick it up. We’ve dropped these two. Now we have to go and respond.”

If anyone knows what that “time” is on this Cavs team, it’s Mitchell. Among Cleveland’s typical starting five, he’s the only one with any meaningful playoff experience (apologies to Jarrett Allen‘s nine-game playoff resume, the last eight of which were losses).

Down the stretch, Cleveland will likely rely on Danny Green‘s veteran leadership to provide some of that experience, along with Mitchell.

Danny Green Reveals Lakers Snub

After his buyout with the Houston Rockets, Green faced no shortage of interest among NBA teams. In addition to the Cavaliers, the Los Angeles Lakers had an eye on reuniting Green and LeBron James, who played together during Green’s rookie season in 2009.

But on his podcast Inside the Green Room, Green explained why he opted against joining the Lakers, hinting at his lack of belief in the purple and gold’s playoff chances.

“I don’t think they had the opportunity or the same opportunity with all the wings they brought in and all the people they brought in,” Green said.

But Green was keen to note that the Lakers are under tremendous pressure this season to win, as is the case for any team that fields a late-career LeBron James.

“I don’t think they were able to say you’ll be in a good opportunity to be on the floor and that we’re for sure going to make the playoffs. So it was very up in the air and it’s a very urgent time for them. They have to win now and they have a lot of pressure doing that in a short amount of time,” Green finished.

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