The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer control their own destiny for the No. 1 seed in the East.
They were in the driver’s seat Monday against the Heat with a 14-point lead late in the third quarter. Even after Miami came back to force overtime, Cleveland had its chance in OT down 124-121 with 13.6 seconds left. But those 13.6 seconds didn’t go so well:
It’s of course worth noting that LeBron James and Kyrie Irving were out with injuries, and Kevin Love had fouled out earlier in overtime. But the Cavs still had plenty of time to work, and four good shooters on the floor between Deron Williams, Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Channing Frye. Heck, let’s even throw Richard Jefferson in there. Get a decent look from three for any of those guys, and you’ll at least walk away satisfied that your team had a legit shot to force a second overtime.
Instead, Williams got the possession started by bumping into Korver with nine seconds left. Korver got the ball to Frye near the top of the arc. Credit Heat guard Goran Dragic’s defense denying the handoff to Smith. Once Frye picked up his dribble with five seconds left and the Cavs still had poor spacing and nobody remotely open, it was game over barring a miracle.
Now, Frye did actually get a decent look up considering the situation. Hassan Whiteside zigged when Frye zagged, possibly anticipating another handoff attempt to Smith who made another last-second cut toward the ball.
So Frye was left open from a few feet beyond the arc. But…the 40 percent shooter bricked the long attempt.
With the Celtics holding off the Nets on Monday, they now have a one game lead over the Cavs for the No. 1 seed with one game remaining. Cleveland needs to beat the Raptors on Wednesday and have the Celtics lose to the Bucks to get the No. 1 seed. If one of those things does not happen, the Cavs will be the No. 2 seed.