The Hooley, Thursday, March 30

One night not so long ago I went to bed and my Cleveland Cavaliers were enjoying a red-hot February and adding key pieces at the veteran buyout deadline to the point where I was convinced a second straight NBA title was in my future.

And then the next day I woke up and my Cavs had gotten old and decrepit overnight.

Quick, somebody get my Cavs a Hover-'Round, because I'm not sure they'll make it to the NBA Finals, let alone get through the NBA Finals.

As they get ready to play in Chicago on Thursday night on 1057 The Zone, the once-mighty Cavs are reeling from three losses in their last four games, four in their last six games and six of nine games in March.

That's on the heels of a 9-2 February when they added Derrick Williams, Deron Williams, and for 58 seconds, Andrew Bogut to loom as the favorites to defend their title.

There's no mystery what's happened.

The Cavs are playing deplorable defense. Actually, it would have to improve to become deplorable.

The Spurs scored only 103 points on Monday, but still won by 29. Prior to that, the Cavs had allowed 120 points or more five times this month.

No one is playing with any energy right now, which is why the Cavs have lost their hold on first place for the first time since November of 2016.

Boston is basically even with the Cavs for first in the East, something the Celtics haven't been this late in the season in nine years.

Does this cold stretch mean the Cavs won't get back to the Finals for a third straight year? No, but it does mean their advance to play whoever comes out of the West is anything but the formality it seemed a month ago.

That's not good, because I'm not sure the Cavs have the ability to play a tough Eastern Conference finals series and be at their best for an arduous NBA Finals series right after that.

They may not be, but they sure look like a team that might have to expend every ounce of effort they have to get back to the championship series, only to find that should they get there, the tank is on empty and there's no place open to get refilled.

Sergei Bobrovsky's hot streak continued at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday. Bob allowed just one goal in a 3-1 Blue Jackets win over Buffalo that keeps Columbus on the heels of Washington in the race for the top seed in the East.

The Blue Jackets have a tough three-games-in-four-days stretch starting tonight at Carolina, which has gotten a point in 12 straight games to make its onw playoff push.

Friday, the Jackets are in Chicago and Sunday they come back home to play the Capitals at 6 p.m.

Oh, and then after that, the Blue Jackets go to Pittsburgh.

So by this time next week, we'll be on the cusp of the end of the regular season and have a very good idea whether the Blue Jackets will have the favorable playoff seeding of the best team in hockey or a dangerous first-round pairing against Washington or the Penguins.

The Jackets are likely to throw Joonas Korpisalo in net tonight against the Hurricanes, which would rest Bob for the Chicago-Washington-Pittsburgh crucible that follows.

Korpi has been alternately bad and good, so given how he played his last time out, he's due for a good one in Carolina.

We all know Ohio State has ruled the rivalry with Michigan in football this millenium.

The Buckeyes have won 12 of the last 13 in the series and 14 of 17 since 1999.

The race is more competitive, but still in Ohio State's favor, when it comes to recent NFL Draft picks.

You get the chance to best Maddie Spielman in our five-question, 30-second quiz. The questions on Thursday were.

  • Who is the basketball coach at South Carolina?
  • What country is Joonas Korpisalo from?
  • How many regular season games has Josh Gordon played for the Browns in the last two seasons?
  • Where did Pacman Jones go to college?
  • Who is the career scoring leader in Ohio State women’s basketball history?

Answers: Frank Martin, Finland, zero, West Virginia, Janel Lavender.

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