Kendrick Perkins blasts Cavs: ‘I don’t see no type of joy, no type of spirit, no type of effort’

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ESPN analyst and former Cleveland Cavaliers big man Kendrick Perkins blasted the team’s body language during its loss to the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night.

Cleveland could not hang with the Suns, losing 122-101 on the second night of a back-to-back on Wednesday after the team beat the Utah Jazz on Tuesday evening.

The loss hurt the Cavs in the Eastern Conference standings, as they had a chance to pick up a game on the Milwaukee Bucks, who were upset at home by the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday.

Instead, Cleveland is still 1.5 games back of the Bucks for the No. 2 seed and holds just a half-game lead on the No. 4-seeded Orlando Magic. Orlando beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night to move closer to the Cavs in the standings.

Perkins’ comments about the Cavs aren’t something new to the team, as star Donovan Mitchell recently called out the team’s play after a loss to the Denver Nuggets on Sunday.

“I told you at the beginning of the season, if we had these struggles at this point then it’s a problem,” Mitchell said after the loss, referring to a conversation he had after the Cavs started 3-5. “It can’t happen. I can say all this now. We have to find a way to figure it out. It’s not going to linger after tonight. Have to watch the film and get back to what we do. But it can’t happen. We can all point to s—. It’s April. It’s (expletive) April. We’ve got to figure it out. And we will.”

Mitchell isn’t the only Cavs player to express frustration, as sharpshooter Max Strus also called out the team’s play after a loss to the Charlotte Hornets in late March.

“Sucks we lost,” Strus said after the loss. “We just didn’t play hard. A really bad loss for us. Nobody wanted to play defense tonight. That was our problem. Can’t lose to teams like this at this point in the season. Is what it is. Gotta take it on the chin and hopefully get back at it on Friday.”

It’s not a good sign that the Cavs have some bad habits – and some questions about how hard they are playing – at this point in the season.

The team should be focused on getting in the best position possible for a playoff run, especially after it wilted in the playoffs last season. The Cavs had a great regular season in the 2022-23 campaign, earning the No. 4 seed in the East, but they lost to the New York Knicks in just five games in the first round of the playoffs.

Cleveland certainly wants to avoid an early exit like that this postseason, but it’s concerning that players and analysts are both questioning the team’s effort.

Hopefully, Mitchell, Strus and others can rally the team to close out the season strong.

Cleveland will look to hang on to the No. 3 seed in the East when it takes on the Los Angeles Lakers on Saturday. That is the first game of another back-to-back for Cleveland, as it will take on the Los Angeles Clippers on Sunday.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.