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Cavs remain confident they'll make playoffs despite being five games out of ninth in East

Marla Ridenour, Akron Beacon Journal on

Published in Basketball

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue's confidence didn't come from the ESPN report Saturday night that his job is safe for the rest of the season.

No one in the organization told him that, anyway.

"I heard it on TV," Lue said.

Despite what looks like a dire situation, Lue is unfazed by the fact that the Cavs (30-21) are closer to ninth place and out of the playoffs in the Eastern Conference than they are to the top.

"We're still going to make the playoffs. There's no doubt about that," Lue said after practice at the Orlando Volleyball Academy. "We're still confident in that for sure."

Going into Monday's action, they were 7 1/2 games behind the East-leading Boston Celtics and five games out of ninth. That spot is currently held by the Detroit Pistons (25-26), who traded for Blake Griffin last week and have won three in a row, starting with a Jan. 30 victory over the Cavs.

 

After being blown out Saturday night at home by the Houston Rockets -- the 32-point loss their second-worst of the season -- Lue said he still believes the Cavs can be the best in the East.

"But I think our mindset has to change, what we're really playing for. Are we playing to win or are we playing to look good?" he said Saturday. "We have to be tougher mentally and physically. I think when things get tough we have to be tougher."

Going into Tuesday night's game against the Magic at Amway Center, the Cavs are 6-12 since Christmas. Since Jan. 8, they have lost four games by 24 points or more.

They have dropped eight consecutive games on national television, prompting LeBron James to say Saturday, "They should take us off every nationally televised game for the rest of the season. We haven't played good ball and we get our butts kicked every time."

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