Cleveland Cavaliers: 4 Thoughts, Week 5
Another...not great week in Cleveland.
But at least I’m good at this! Remember when I told you their perimeter defense was struggling? That very same night Duncan Robinson (who?) set a Miami Heat record for most threes in a quarter -- seven! And that they were getting beat up on the offensive glass? The Cavs went 1-3 last week, and their only win was the one where they had more offensive rebounds than their opponent did; ‘4 Thoughts’ -- I’m not making things up! How could they have a better week?
1. Free Larry Nance Jr.! I had predicted great things for Nance this year, and while he has had a decent year, I thought more was in store for the hometown hero. Since returning from his sprained thumb and starting a few games for an injured Kevin Love, we’ve seen more of what Nance can do. 13.8 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game is more along the lines of where I expected Nance to be. In the close loss to Brooklyn, he put up a 20-13, and was the only Cavs starter with a positive net rating or positive plus/minus. He continues to be one of the Cavs’ best defenders, he’s expanded his game into taking and making more threes -- he contributes to winning basketball. Let’s see him play more of it!
2. Get that weak stuff outta here! If you’ve ever had the pleasure of the Cavs local broadcast team you know that one of Austin Carr’s favorite phrases has been uttered too few times and too far in between. The Cavs are dead last in blocked shots, and their opponents know it. The Cavs are in the bottom ten in attempted twos (meaning the other teams take a lot of them), and bottom five in defending against them. In that same game against Brooklyn, the Cavs basically played two bigs: Nance and Tristan Thompson, and an assortment of wings and guards. Really: the next-tallest players were 6’7’ forwards Cedi Osman and Alfonzo McKinnie. You are not deterring players from forays to the rim when those two are the final line of defense, and when the defense collapses, kick-outs to open shooters behind the arc are the result. Perhaps someday John Henson and his legendary wingspan will come back and change the geometry. One can hope.
You don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You get down the floor and let those three balls take flight
You don’t have to make that pass tonight
Pump fake all you want to
You don’t care if the defender will even bite
You don’t have to put on the red light
Thank you, thank you. I’m here Wednesday. Try the veal. And try giving Jordan Clarkson more minutes and shots. He may not be the future, but he is having a season off the bench. I know I’ve given him some shine before, but he is really taking his game up a notch with his efficiency and scoring. Maybe he’s more efficient cause he’s not gunning quite as hard? Maybe fewer minutes means greater energy in the ones he plays? Maybe the egg actually came first? Worst case scenario: his instant offense off the bench draws the interest of a few teams with championship aspirations and they drive up the price.
4. Don’t play Dallas again till next season. They shouldn’t have a hard time with this, because they’d have to meet in the finals in order to battle again, and that would mean A LOT of things went right in Cleveland. But gee whiz did the Mavs have the Cavs’ number this year. In their home-and-home series, the average score was 137-106, and Luka Doncic averaged 29.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 14.5 assists per game. I don’t know if you heard of him, but he might be good. Must have gone #1 the year he came out -- don’t know who would have passed on that sort of talent.
As a pretty substantial homestand continues, the Cavs have winnable games against Orlando and Detroit sandwiching a tough Milwaukee squad coming to town. The playoffs were always a tough proposition for this season, but the Magic and Pistons were playoff teams last year, so home games represent distinctions: are the Cavs true bottom feeders, or in the mix of teams nipping at the bottom of the playoff picture? We’ll know more this time next week! Seeya then-