Byron Scott questions Cavs’ passion and competitiveness in latest loss

Anderson Varejao. Daniel Gibson. Alonzo Gee.

These three names would be the only ones that a visually preturbed Scott would list off following his team’s recent loss to the Brooklyn Nets, one which included a solid first quarter coupled with three quarters of defense that would best replicate that of the All-Star game or an And1 mixtape. A young roster, full of upside and excitement and YouTube-ready highlights, all ignored with the focus on three players.

With 15 bodies filling the roster of the Cleveland Cavaliers, head coach Byron Scott claims that only one-fifth of those who are afforded Cavalier uniforms have proven to be worth their weight on the defensive end of the floor on a nightly basis, posessing the passion to provide a hinderance to their opponent, showing that there are, after all, two sides to the game of basketball and going into each game in attempt to merely out-shoot the opposition is by no means a recipe for success.

Heading into the contest, the Nets averaged 93 points per game on 43 percent shooting. Against the Cavaliers and their marks were elevated to 114 points on 55 percent shooting. These marks were enough for Byron Scott to completely ignore the fact that his 20-year-old point guard provided a career-best 34 points to go with eight assists; it was even impetus to not discuss Varejao’s 35-point explosion, output that demolished his previous career-high. Shooting back at a member of the New Jersey

“It’s a team game,” quipped the frustrated coach.

Scott admitted that this team undoubtedly has weapons who can fill up the box score each time they take to the floor. The only thing keeping Irving from having his named etched in stardom is the likely ascent to superstardom. Rookie guard Dion Waiters has already had multiple evenings of high point totals. Even Tristan Thompson and the aforementioned Gibson have had their share of double-digit outings, but that is essentially the end of the rope — four players, five coutning Varejao, who can consistently put the ball through the rim.

The other option? Play efficient basketball on the offensive end while defending the absolute hell out their own goal.

“We’ve got to get more guys who are going to be competitive and passionate about the defensive end,” Scott said.

Not exactly a shot across the bow of one Chris Grant as much as it is the calling out of 12 other players in the Cavalier locker room, but the message remains: this team cannot expect to win basketball games if it is not going to play defense. If Daniel Gibson is on the floor, that means either Irving or Waiters is watching him play. If Alonzo Gee can’t find his stroke on a given night, he becomes one-dimensional and is often tasked with chasing around the best athlete on the floor. When the Cavaliers opted to trade JJ Hickson during his contract year and draft the athletic Thompson, they were doing so knowing that his offensive game was raw, but he was an athletic post defender who could run the floor — on Tuesday night, Thompson managed to pull down five rebounds and block zero shots. In fact, of every Cavalier to take the floor on Tuesday, nary a one managed to block a shot despite the Nets taking 29 shots at the rim.

The difficulty lies in the fact that players simply do not become better defenders overnight, if at all. If Scott is not going to alter his defensive scheme and chooses to rely on improved effort, the impact may be marginal at best. Waiters is a hard-nosed player, but was a part of a zone defense in college. Irving has long had defense listed as his biggest weakness. And while Donald Sloan finds himself watching back door passes zoom past his head, the cost of punshing backcourt tandem may be more than the benefits of the message being sent.

The Cavaliers now find themselves in the midst of a three-day break from in-game play, their longest stretch of “off” days until the mid-February All-Star break. They’ve been away from Cleveland for roughly two weeks and will likely have alot to catch up on with friends and family. However, if Scott’s post-game message was any indication, there will not be much a break to be had.

“We’ve got three more days before our next game,” Scott said. “I can promise you we will work on it a hell of a lot the next three days. A hell of a lot.”

 (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

  • BenRM

    I heard Mike Brown was available. Maybe he’ll come in and consult on the defense. :p

  • Lunch

    I sense a trade coming soon. And it doesn’t involve Anderson Varojao.

  • Breakfast

    Curious. Are Byron Scott’s defensive schemes that difficult to learn, or are the players unwilling to play defense?

  • Harv 21

    Was only able to catch the second half, but a few semi-informed thoughts:

    – Tristan’s free throw form has deteriorated again and his energy in the paint translates into little when he fires low fastballs from the line. His 4th quarter shots had so little chance of going in that he made a comeback attempt impossible and made himself a target to be fouled.

    – Looove Brooklyn’s unis, and I’m not a big uni guy. Just right for that city. Instant identity and attitude. As perfect for the place as the Laker unis are for theirs.

    – Said this before, but not so sure how good Byron actually is at teaching and emphasizing defense. He talks about defense but he was an offense-oriented player and don’t remember NO or NJ as being known for its defense when he coached there. Maybe he’ll need a better defensive assistant coach to come in. Obviously, some of the problems are related to youth, with Waiters just figuring the offensive plays and subs like Sloan and Miles worrying about putting up numbers to get PT. But the defensive rotations in the 4th quarter to cover the outside shot was non-existent. Guys waiving half-hearted hands from 8 feet away and Nets hitting shot after shot.

    – End of road trip, young players on loose in NY, call me cynical but maybe some of these guys had their minds away from basketball a little.

  • deesh

    Mike Brown = defensive Coordinator

    Scott = Offensive Coordinator/ Head Coach

    You know, I’d be totally okay with that.

  • Steve

    Or are neither his schemes nor the players good enough to create high-caliber NBA defense?

  • I think it’s time to be honest, is the problem the players or Scott? You look at the Starters (who have the best +/- of any 5 man line-up with 100 possessions in the league) and see they are always competitive if not outscoring their opponents, and you look at what happens when the hockey substitution comes in. It’s a mess. The problem may not be that the bench is awful, the problem may be that they are not put in a position to succeed with better players still on the court with them.

  • porckchopexpress

    The problem is that if you want Irving, Waiters, or Andy out there with the 2’s, you need to pull them early in the 1st to get a few minutes down, which means yanking a guy right as he should be getting into a rythym. You simply can’t make those guys run 38-40 minutes a night unless you want to see them gassed/injured in March.
    I don’t think Scott’s sub patterns are different than those of any other coach in the league, his bench is just terrible.

  • cmm13

    There are two problems with the Cavaliers:
    1. Omri Casspi
    2. CJ Miles

    that is all.

  • porckchopexpress

    Now that the Zombie goon squad is finished feasting on the carcass of Shurmur its turning on Scott?
    Lets just recall somethings, first he is a former coach of the year. Second his NJ teams finished top 5 and were right with the Pistons in the argument for best defensive team under his watch. New Orleans had 2 top 10 defensive finishes in his 5 full years and another top 15, and remember that was during the Katrina chaos and having Baron Davis’s waistline as his best line of defense.
    I’ll put it simply, it is not the fault of the coach that this team has failed to live up to your (meaning me as well) badly misjudging the talent level available. Basketball is not football, it is very hard to defensively “scheme” your way to wins consistently. Our star point guard is still a very bad defender, the bench is a nightmare both defending and rebounding, and there is a lot of mistakes happening on offense which leads to turnovers/missed shots which lead to fast breaks.
    To summarize;
    Coach Scott has a history of fielding adequate to great defensive teams.
    This team is not good defensively
    This team is incredibly young and overall not very talented.
    The latter has 1000x’s more impact on the former then the coaching abilities of Byron Scott.

  • ThatAlex

    Not a bad idea considering defense was the only thing the LeBron-era Cavs were good at as a team.

  • ThatAlex

    There’s no reason why players like Thompson, Waiters, Zeller, and even Samardo can’t improve on defense with time. They’re still young and have the ability. The most important of these is Thompson. He probably will never be able to score consistently, so he damn well better become a stud on defense if he wants any role on the team after the next 2 years.

  • Harv 21

    you know who’s another Coach of the Year? (Yeah, you do)

    Look, no one’s feasting on his carcass. I like him. But I’m watching him. When even bad teams simply stop playing hard for long stretches, as happened last season and the season before, the coach bears some responsibility. And it’s possible that in about 4 seasons we look back at Byron’s time here and say, now we know he coaches well when he has a talented team but he wasn’t the best choice to develop a roster from scratch.

    Watching, not feasting. Want him to succeed.

  • Harv 21

    were that but true

  • cmm13

    Both are the wing players that were brought in to be able to shoot the second unit out of trouble.
    Neither are doing so which means they are forced to play lock down defense.
    End problem being they are not good at playing defense.
    So neither player is performing on the offense end and can’t defend either.
    “So ….what is it that you would say ya actually do hear?”

  • Steve

    I know this is hyperbole, but you do know that those 60 win teams were 4th and 6th in ORtg, right?

  • Vindictive_Pat

    I want to know when Tristan is going to stop getting his dunks blocked. It’s like watching a bullet coming at you in slow motion and knowing there isn’t time to move. You see the block coming a full second before it happens.

  • EZ

    I mean, I guess the problem would be there’s nobody better than those two guys on the team, but it’s hard to say they are the only problem. I swear there was a point where Samuels, Leuer, and Walton were all on the court last night. Not. Pretty.

  • Crowsfoot

    Thompson is a stiff. I can’t recall a big man who can’t even get the ball up over his head – let alone make an actual shot attempt. The loss of Zeller hurts more than we realize. People talk about trading Andy, but he is the heart and soul of this team.

  • faithwalker

    Cavs need a big that can score 2ndly they need a consistent scorer and a big who can crash the boards to help Andy at 8 boards a night…and they are definitely a playoff team……Miles is a no show and Samuels is in and out…..Leur is not sure where he is at….Boobie is playing decent……Gee needs to move forward play tenaciously….Waiters is in and out as a rookie…don’t play like one you got the talent……Kyrie and Andy are the team but two good players can not carry any team……Tristan needs to get off his freakin feet quicker and play his 6’8 size instead of trying to be a 7 footer……this team. needs to get rid of those pieces that do not work…..and leave an empty bench spot before filling it with questions…the team…..needs an adjustment to what they have and can do instead of what they want to do and do not have…..Scott is a good coach…but systems do not work unless the talent works with the system