The Cleveland Cavaliers will be making the playoffs, but they’re down bad at the moment. JB Bickerstaff’s group is just 3-7 in their last 10 games and hit rock-bottom on Wednesday evening, losing 118-111 to the Charlotte Hornets, one of the worst clubs in the Association. Following the loss, Cavs sharpshooter Max Strus had some strong words for his squad after such a horrific display.

Via Chris Fedor of

“That was a really bad loss for us,” Strus said. “We just didn’t play hard. Nobody wanted to play defense tonight. That was our problem. Can’t lose to teams like this at this point in the season.”

“Things are getting real now. We’re in the playoff push. We’re trying to get a good seed,” Strus said. “We have to come together as a unit and figure it out as a team. We have to get back to playing hard, playing together and sacrificing for each other. There’s not a lot of that going on. I think we’re just trying to get through it. We’re trying to figure that out.”

The Hornets lost 12 of 14 coming into this contest and dropped nearly 70 points in the first half alone. The Cavs’ top-five defense was nowhere to be found.

Cavs struggling without Mitchell

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Donovan Mitchell (45) looks at the replay board while playing against the Houston Rockets in the second half at Toyota Center.

Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Donovan Mitchell is undoubtedly the backbone of this Cavs team and although he’s on the verge of returning from nasal issues and a knee injury, the struggle has been real without the All-Star guard. Since Spida went on the shelf, Cleveland is just 2-4. In March alone, the Cavs are only 6-9. Overall, they’re just 11-13 when Mitchell isn’t playing. He wasn’t the same dominant figure post All-Star break either, scoring under 20 points in four of his last five outings before the injury.

But, there is no question Spida is a sparkplug for this Cavs squad and they need him back badly. After all, he is averaging 27.4 points, 6.1 assists, and 5.3 rebounds on 37% shooting from downtown. Mitchell is reportedly targeting Friday’s contest against the Philadelphia 76ers as his possible return.

In fairness to the Cavs, injuries have been an issue all season long. Even when Mitchell was out, Mobley, Strus, and Dean Wade missed time in March. This starting five hasn’t played much together as of late, but it does appear Cleveland is getting healthy just ahead of the stretch run. The Cavs are still 44-29 on the year, which is good enough for fourth place in the Eastern Conference.

Strus does believe Cleveland is going to find a rhythm sooner rather than later:

“We will figure it out,” Strus said adamantly. “We have had a lot of moving pieces, trying to get a rhythm and flow together. That’s not an excuse. Just one of the things we have to get through and hopefully we can get through that and find a way to put some wins together before the end of this year.

“We have a great team and a great locker room with a lot of talented players. We have done it before. We have shown we can play with that kind of consistency and grit. Just have to get back to doing that.”

The Cavs will be biting at the bit to come out on Friday and grab a much-needed win and hopefully, Mitchell is on the floor doing his thing.