HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – When Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters combined for 52 points in a road win over the Los Angeles Clippers last week, we started to see some real potential in the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Since then, the Cavs have lost four straight games. And on Tuesday night, they took over as the worst defensive team in the league, having allowed 107.8 points per 100 possessions, eight more than the league average.
The Cavs’ defense actually ranks in the top eight in forcing turnovers and defensive rebounding. But it has major holes on the interior, despite the presence of Anderson Varejao, an excellent defender.
|Highest opponent FG%, restricted area|
Through Tuesday, 11/13
Through Tuesday’s loss in Brooklyn, the Cavs are allowing their opponents to shoot a ridiculous 76.4 percent in the restricted area
Now, you will notice that teams 2, 3 and 4 in the table to the right all finished in the top five in defensive efficiency last season. And there’s more to defense than keeping your opponent from shooting a high percentage near the basket.
But you will also notice how big of a difference there is between the Cavs and every other team when it comes to defending the rim. Their opponents are shooting almost 11 percent higher than any other team’s opponents and more than 18 percent higher than the league average (58.2 percent).
To make it clear how bad that is, note that only one player (Dante Cunningham) took at least 100 shots from the restricted area last year and shot better than 76.4 percent. He was 89-for-116 (76.7 percent).
On Tuesday, the Nets shot an amazing 24-for-28 in the restricted area, recording 60 points in the paint, their highest total since April of 2010.
A look at the film makes it easy to see why, because the the Cavs’ defensive breakdowns were obvious, plentiful, and almost comical…
Problem: No hustle. Spotlight on: Alonzo Gee
The Cavs are allowing 19.7 fast break points per 100 possessions, second only to Milwaukee. Part of the problem is turnovers, and part of the problem is … well, just watch Alonzo Gee after Irving misses a shot in the paint…
When Kris Humphries grabs the rebound for Brooklyn, Brook Lopez is at the foul line and Gee is at the 3-point line. And when Lopez scores on the opposite end of the floor, Gee has barely cross the mid-court line.