Cavs Fall Victim in Their First Back-to-Back of 2011-12 Season

Live by the three. Die by the three?

Surely, partaking in what was the second night of a back-to-back slate on the road against what is proving to be a terrible matchup for the Cavaliers plays a large role. A team comprised of largely inexperienced players taking their first trip down NBA Schedule Lane, less than 24 hours removed from the final whistle of a high-possession game against the Charlotte Bobcats, looking to keep the momentum going only to fall a bit flat on both ends of the court – the narrative is still very ripe and is not without merit.

But just as it was troubling prior to Wednesday night’s 92-77 loss to the Toronto Raptors, it’s troubling afterwards: The Cavaliers are relying largely on low-percentage shots. Forty-one percent of the Cavaliers’ shot attempts on Wednesday evening were either spot-up attempts (16 of which were three-pointers) or pick-and-roll situations in which the ball handler maintained possession.  On nights like Tuesday where Kyrie Irving is of the utmost efficient, this is a net positive. On nights like Wednesday, or any of those played against the Toronto Raptors, it’s a large net loss as it net the Wine and Gold a mere .36 points per possession.

A 19-year old point guard being used 36 percent of his time on the floor is bound to have the occasional backlash. The aggression and ease displayed by Irving one night earlier was replaced with tentativeness and apprehension and exhaustion; he was 2-of-5 on layups. But to Irving’s credit, even when he did relinquish possession, his teammates were doing little but provide weak legs; Alonzo Gee and Daniel Gibson, two of the key three-point contributors mentioned just one week ago, combined to go 0-for-8 from the three point line.

Antawn Jamison, the team’s leading scorer once again, needed 19 shots to net his 19 points. (At least said lack of efficiency provided us with this brilliant metaphor.) As bad as the Cavaliers were from the three-point line, it was actually this level of the floor that provided the team with their highest conversion rate – lede notwithstanding – as they were 6-of-21 at the rim, 5-of-15 up to 10 feet, 1-of-8 between 10 and 15 feet and 5-of-14 from there to the three-point line. Brutal, regardless of how one opts to slice.

To Toronto’s credit, they forced the Cavaliers to play at their pace. The Cavs pushed the ‘Cats to 101 possessions a night earlier. On Wednesday, Jose Calderon and Company pumped the brakes on the running and subsequent gunning, griding the game down to 89 possessions, representing a complete swing of the pace-of-play pendulum. Those missed threes discussed above? Potentially a product of a complete lack of transition-based play.

This, my fellow Clevelanders, will be your Cavaliers team this season. Anyone who thought this road trip was going to be littered with Wine and Gold-clad unicorns certainly is simply too enthralled with six-game samples.  This is a very young team that’s going to have a ton of ups and downs; the ups will be extremely exciting, providing a deluge of hope, the penchant for impulse visits to FlashSeats and insanely premature water cooler murmurs of postseason play, while the downs are a basic, blunt-force strike to the rods and cones which serve to remind us of the work these kids still have to put in in order get better.

(AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Frank Gunn)

  • Clown Baby

    Games like two nights ago make games like last night a little more acceptable and THAT is the difference from last year. Samardo needs to get his documentation and rebounding in order because I’ve seen enough Ryan Hollins (and his chin hair) for two lifetimes. Nothing to get too worked up over though since TOR couldn’t miss last night.

  • masonjarjar

    A game like last night does put things into perspective for this team.. as I’m sure the rest of this road trip will as well.

  • Lyon

    What bothered me most last night is Scott’s refusal to try and inject energy into the team. They clearly didn’t have it and were going through the motions. Instead of trying an early substitution (TT for Andy since they were getting layups all day & Andy won’t block a shot) he went with his normal subsitution pattern.

    I get that he wants the guys to be used to who they’re playing with, but switch it up if your team looks lifeless.

    And Hollins is so aggravating. we played 4 on 5 when he was out there b/c they don’t even have to guard him when he’s open for a dunk. He almost broke the backboard on 1 of those “dunk attempts”.

  • Roosevelt

    I hope to see a few more like Tuesday’s game, so that we feel like the team is making progress. And then I hope to see many more like last night, so that we get a top five pick.

  • Vengeful Pat

    @Roosevelt, I’ve got a bad feeling that the Cavs will become too good too fast. In other words, we might be in Indiana Pacer territory. Danny Granger came on board and immediately made the Pacers a team that consistently finished around .500 or just below that, good enough to push them to late lottery picks or out of the lottery completely, but bad enough that they don’t win any big games. It’s tough to build a team like that. My intuition is that the Cavs will feast on the Bobcats, Wizards, Nets, Pistons, Kings, etc and get their record high enough to put them out of the running for the best draft picks.

    Although admittedly this year’s draft is supposedly deep and the Cavs could be looking at Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb, or Bradley Beal with their selection. That wouldn’t be so bad.

  • mgbode

    @VP – “Cavs could be looking at Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Jeremy Lamb”

    I think those guys are in the conversation with Barnes and Drummond anyway for the Cavs. Especially Gilchrist.

  • Vengeful Pat

    @mgbode, yeah i would agree with that. Can I say one more thing that will make everyone mad at me? I am skeptical to label anyone in this draft as a future NBA star. Granted, there’s still over two months of college basketball to be played, but I haven’t really seen any of these guys consistently take over a game the way ‘Melo or Durant or Rose did when they played. I’ll put a bookmark in that and come back to it after the season is over, but my initial thought is that talking heads overreacted to how “bad” last years draft was and are now overreacting to how “good” this year’s draft will be.

  • mgbode

    @VP – you could be right. there are alot of guys I think are getting more hype than they are worth.

    but, perhaps I have just happened to catch his good games, but Gilchrist sure seems like a guy taking over games to me. all the physical attributes, the demeanor and the skills on the court. he’s my favorite right now.

  • JM

    A young team playing back to back games? I’m not very surprised by the result. I think it will be an up and down season for sure.

  • crowsfoot

    As always, the Cavs will live and die by the jump shot. One night they look like world beaters and the next two they are “The gang who couldn’t shoot straight”. But, even with the horrific shooting last night, they really missed the presence of Samardo Samuels.