Sekou Smith report: Cavaliers’ defense could hinder backcourt development

We know the Cavaliers’ defense is bad. But how bad in comparison to the rest of the league is measurable, and the measurement is ugly. Tha answer: very ugly.

“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.

Through Tuesday’s loss in Brooklyn, the Cavs are allowing their opponents to shoot a ridiculous 76.4 percent in the restricted area.”

John Schuhmann wrote the piece, and breaks down (with video) five awful instances of defensive lapses. It is a great piece and worth your time.

His conclusion:

“We all know that the Cavs are a team of the future and that this season’s results don’t matter much in Cleveland. But better defensive habits must start now. If the defense doesn’t improve as this season goes on, the culture will be affected and the development of their backcourt will be hindered.”

[Related: Byron Scott questions Cavs’ passion and competitiveness]


  • BenRM

    Obviously the D needs to improve pronto. But I don’t follow how a front court weakness hinders back court development.

    B/c the Cavs will have a losing culture? As if there sort of isn’t one already?

  • The defense is certainly alarming in how porous it has been. I’d like to think that as the Cavs continue to add better players to surround Kyrie and Dion, their team defense will improve. Throwing guys like CJ Miles, John Leurer and Luke Walton on the floor will add to some pretty awful defensive stats.

    On the other hand, Kyrie and Dion (especially Kyrie) need to step up big time. Especially Kyrie. It’s his second year in the league, and he’s still considered one of the worst defenders in the NBA. I know much has been made of many aspects of his poor defense, but the one I constantly notice is his laziness fighting around screens. On countless occasions, he makes no effort to stay on his man through a pick, instead opting to let a bigger, slower defender pick up the small guard he’s been shadowing, leading to huge mismatches. That’s got to stop, and it’s simply an effort issue and learning a players tendency to choose whether or not to go over or under the screen.

  • mgbode

    reading between the lines with a magnifying lens could possibly see that if we don’t improve the defense, we won’t get to the playoffs, and that is where the real development will take place for Irving & Waiters

  • mgbode

    why are Gee and Samuels being spotlighted for bad defense so much this year though?

    why isn’t Kyrie better at defense from last year?

    there are lots of questions that go beyond the Walton/Leuer/Miles/Casspi defensive absences on the floor.

  • Jack

    We are the new 2009 Golden State Warriors…

    Offensive dynamism with a sparkling young backcourt that doubles as an under-sized defensive abyss
    An absolute void elsewhere on the wings
    A center who can gobbles rebounds but is also undersized and can’t guard any offensively proficient counterpart one-on-one
    Dedicated to up and down play (with energy exerted on one side of the ball)

  • Gee is a decent on-ball defender. He and Andy are the team’s best. But he would have to be embarrassed by the lack of effort on the play highlighted in the piece. No excuse. Just flat not hustling.

  • Steve

    First, I don’t think he’s saying it’s just a frontcourt weakness. Also, it instills a culture that defense isn’t as important. If no one else is making the effort to improve their play on that end of the court, it will be harder to convince Irving and Waiters to do so.

  • Yeah, for a guy who Bryon calls one of the best defenders in the league, that was embarrassing. Long road trip or not, that’s inexcusable