Cavs vs Wizards Behind The Box Score: Too Little, Too Late…Again

BtBS WizardsThey say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.

For the 2nd time in this young NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers attempted a furious late game comeback. And for the 2nd time, they fell short in the end. In this one, the Cavaliers appeared well on their way to a 30 point home loss to the Washington Wizards. But undrafted free agent rookie Matthew Dellavedova used his effort to spark some life in the Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving began taking over.

With 6:35 left in the 3rd quarter, John Wall hit a shot to put the Wizards up 73-46. Mike Brown called a timeout and made wholesale substitutions, bringing in Jarrett Jack, Dion Waiters, Matthew Dellavedova, Anderson Varejao, and Henry Sims. That unit began chipping away at the Wizards’ lead. In the 4th quarter Kyrie Irving came back in and began scoring and attacking and the Cavaliers would climb all the way back to within 4 points at 90-86 with 1:39 left in the game.

The Cavs defense got a big stop on the ensuing Wizards possession, but Earl Clark was called for a brutal loose ball foul that negated the Cavaliers rebound and gave Marcin Gortat a pair of free throws. This was followed up by a Dion Waiters travelling violation and with that the comeback lost steam and the Cavaliers eventually fell 98-91.

You would hope this game would send a message and provide a learning opportunity for the Cavaliers. It’s equally encouraging that Matthew Dellavedova was showing so much effort and discouraging that it took an undrafted free agent rookie to show this team what kind of effort is required in a game like this. The Cavaliers have come out flat time and time again this season and at some point this has to change. Whether it’s coaching or the players themselves, somehow this team has to figure out how to come out and play hard for all 4 quarters.

Now lets get into the numbers…

– +21  – In a game in which Tristan Thompson was –28, Andrew Bynum was –21, Kyrie Irving was –20, and Earl Clark was –14, it was the Cavaliers’ bench that made this a game. And nobody played harder in this game than Matthew Dellavedova. Delly finished a game-high +21. In the 4th quarter his defensive effort was especially inspiring. Delly was draped all over Bradley Beal, determined to not let Beal catch the ball in scoring position. He also knocked down 3 big shots from behind the arc for 9 points. There weren’t a lot of positives for the Cavaliers in this game, but Delly was definitely the biggest positive in this one.

– 74 to 17 – Through three quarters, the Wizards starters outscored the Cavaliers 74 to 17. Bradley Beal looked unstoppable with 22 points and there were no answers for Nene in the post as he had 18 points. Meanwhile, with CJ Miles leaving the game two and a half minutes into the game  with an injury, the Cavaliers starters couldn’t find anyone to pick up the scoring slack. Clark had 3 points while Thompson and Bynum had 2 points each. Only Kyrie Irving was in double figures with 10 points. It’s tough to win any game when your starters are outscored by the opponents’ starters by 57 points.

– 44 – The Wizards had 44 points in the paint in this game. It started early with Nene scoring 8 first quarter points as the Cavs interior defense just couldn’t seem to figure out how to slow down the Wizards’ PF. To make matters worse, the Cavaliers also surrendered 15 offensive board to the Wiz leading to 16 second-chance points. The hallmark of Mike Brown’s defense is supposed to be a tough interior defense that limits easy baskets and second-chance opportunities. That aspect certainly wasn’t clicking tonight.

– 31 – The Wizards had 31 assists as a team in this game. The Cavaliers had only 19. It was a stark contrast between the two offenses in this game. The Wizards, despite playing a road game on the back end of a back-to-back, were moving the ball phenomenally well in this game, with players moving off ball and getting into scoring position, and being rewarded for their hard work with good passes that led to easy looks. Meanwhile, despite having 3 days rest, the Cavaliers once again mostly stood around on offense and just watched the guards dribble around with the only off ball movement coming from behind the arc. I know the Cavaliers are focused on installing the new defensive system, and that’s really the most important thing. But at some point the Cavaliers are going to have to implement an offensive systems with some actual sets. You just can’t win basketball games with poor spacing and guys standing around on the wings.

– 18 – Kyrie Irving scored 18 points in the 4th quarter alone as he attempted to put the offense on his back and to help find a way to win this game. With Dellavedova leading the charge on defense with high energy and hustle, it was Kyrie who took over on the other end. The Cavaliers got 6 points in the 4th from Dion and Delly each and Andy chipped in a bucket as well, but it was Kyrie Irving who shot 6-7 from the floor and 5-5 from the FT line to close the gap. The Wizards as a team only scored 18 points in the 4th quarter. It’s a little unfortunate that it took falling down 27 points for the Cavaliers to mount a comeback, but still, Kyrie deserves credit for the offensive explosion in the 4th quarter. It would have been easy to just give up and let this game end up a 30 point loss. It may not mean much as the only thing that counts in the standings is that this was a loss, but when a team is grasping for answers you have to cling to what you can get. Kyrie’s offense and Delly’s defense at least gave the Cavaliers something to build on. Now they have to figure out how to carry this over to the next game Friday in New Orleans.

The Pelicans are playing good basketball this season and Anthony Davis looks every bit the part of a #1 overall pick. Eric Gordon and Jrue Holliday have been pretty good on offense. New Orleans are 9th in offensive efficiency and 18th in defensive efficiency. They are a team that the Cavaliers cannot afford to fall behind against. Coming back against Washington is one thing, but as the Cavaliers now face a tough stretch of games they just have to dig deep and come out playing hard from tip-off to final buzzer. I’m not sure there’s much else to say about it right now.

  • I happened to be driving into DC tonight. Listening to the Washington commentators wax poetic on Mike Brown’s rotations was rather amusing.

    On that note, I’m going to go drink in a corner by myself now. Why, basketball gods? Why?

  • anon

    the cavs are a bad team. admitting it is liberating.

  • jeff

    Can anyone explain to me how Tristan can go from looking like a borderline all-star to 2 pts and 4 rebs?

  • Kildawg

    If I was Mike Brown I would send a message. Start Dellavedova (or Jack) at the point and have Kyrie start at the 2. The other of Delly/Jack could be part of the bench with Waiters, Gee, Bennett (if he can Get Buckets; if not then Sims), and Varejao. Looking more and more like trading for a starting caliber SF would be the kick in the rear end this team needs. Even Gay chucking up shots wouldn’t look as bad as what Bennett has been doing (so far anyway).

  • 240

    As I said a week and a half ago…point differential says it all. This team now has 4 wins chat could have been losses and has only really been competitive in a few of their losses. This against what I believe is a soft schedule. I think the sample size is big enough now. I think the T word should be thrown around…Tankapalooza?
    Side note – if Anthony Bennett can’t get in during the 2nd/3rd quarter when this team is down 20+ points then when can he play? Henry Sims was first off the deep bench. What a joke.

  • DCTribeFan

    As a long-time fan of Wizards suckitude, I settled in to watch what I presumed would be a choppy, uneven contest between two rather undistinguished teams.

    What I got was a NEW definition of suckitude.

    Blow this thing up. Post haste.

  • Rob

    Couldn’t agree more. Looking at their 4 wins:
    1. CJ Miles had to get scorching hot and Brooklyn’s offense took a crap to barely win the opener
    2. A missed Kevin Love 3 away from losing to Minny
    3. Kyrie goes off in OT to save losses against (powerhouses) Philly and Washington
    At one point do you end the Bynum experiment? I think you give him another 10 games or so, but dude looks lost and really hasn’t showny ANYTHING
    Can we trade Varaejao for anything resembling FMV now?
    Is Kyrie truly the most overatted player in the NBA? Or is he a good stats bad team player? At what point does CG have to test the market for him? I am sorry, but you aren’t winning a playoff series if Kyrie is your best player

  • Backwoods

    Maybe they need to trade for Woody Harrelson?

  • mgbode

    quinoa, quiche, quail…

  • 240

    I think you have to give Bynum a little more time. Especially if this team is going to garbage like it looks. I think the idea to trade Andy…while the Cavs would have received much more value early last year…is still necessary. I agree with everything you said in points 1, 2, and 3.

  • Backwoods

    You can put a cat in the oven, but that don’t make it a biscuit…

    Shoot, I’d even trade the washing machine for the older version of Woody…

  • Ben Frambaugh

    You think that adding a few more crazy games in a crazy early season that features 7 new players (over half of the active roster) and an entirely new coaching staff is enough? LOL

  • BenRM

    The only thing the Wizards ever got over the Cavs was swiping Beal out from under us…

    Waiters was a turnover machine. It killed me.
    I might also add that I don’t think the refs did the Cavs any favors. Obviously, more went wrong than the officiating, but still…

  • mgbode

    why don’t we take all these bricks and build a shelter for the homeless so your mom will have a place to stay.

  • Harv 21

    Haven’t watched this game yet but here the box score says more than what’s behind it: Down 73-46, at home, with just one fringe starter out, after 3 days of rest and 2 consecutive days of practices to get yourselves together.

    When I watch this game I’m sure I’ll see a lack of effort by the starters for 3 quarters. Even players with lesser talent are capable of effort. Right now this is an immature team not liking the new strict teacher and without a respected player who has bought in and will knock heads. (Don’t tell me the leader is Jarrett Jack; in no sport do guy follow players who are playing crappy). Mike Brown has a new long contract and one big stick: playing time. Time to go bad cop and use that stick liberally.

  • Rob

    If this season does go down the toilet, don’t you have to fire Grant? This isn’t about Thompson over JV, Waiters over Barnes/Drummond, Bennet over EVERYONE. It’s about a complete lack of progress. Outside of that 1.5 month stretch last winter (which was improbably driven by an eclectic bench unit of Livingston, Ellington, Miles, speights and walton) we have not fielded a team that can compete consistently. I think we can all agree we took the right approach post decision. I know we still possess future assets and cap space, but given the last three years, how are we suppossed to be confident Grant can get us back to respectability?

  • 240

    Cleveland fans are such a joke. When will it be enough? Is 40+ years of an organization long enough to get their act together? The point differential tells me enough about the players. I was a Chris Grant believer…but I think it’s all over. May be time to rip it down again and hope to get 1 of the studs in this year’s draft. You’re living in a fantasy world if you think a team that has Irving, Thompson, and Waiters as its 3 best players are going to win the title. And in the end that’s all that matters. Winning the title.

  • Backwoods

    That was the problem. Last night, Mike Brown wasn’t looking for a lineup that worked well together, he was trying to find SOMEONE who was interested in playing. Nobody even wanted to be there, it seemed.

  • Kevin Huyghe

    I got the washing machine reference. Semi Pro is a very underrated movie.

  • Backwoods

    Look, man, you can listen to jimi, but you can’t hear him. That’s the difference.

  • Rob

    Im not so sure we have to rip it down! Look at the next 10 games: Miami x2, @ SAS, @ NO, @BOS, Chi, LAC, @ ATL, NYK, DEN. Best case we win 3 of those and all of a sudden were at 7 – 15!!

  • Steve

    Well, insulting fellow Clevelanders will certainly expedite the process. It is what it is. Let the people who enjoy watching this team, and like analyzing it beyond “they suck!” have their peace.

  • BenRM

    I disagree – Dion seemed to be trying pretty hard, but nothing was working.

  • Steve

    A lot of wasted time under Scott, but if Brown can get these guys playing playoff-worthy defense, I think they’ll come around and be competitive over the next few years.

  • Ben Frambaugh

    Are you a Cleveland fan? If so, then by your own estimation, you are a joke. If not, then why are you posting here? Because, the only reason I can see is to be a troll. Which, to me, is a real joke.

    I love the growth that I’ve seen out of Thompson. Waiters has shown potential for growth, but is (apparently) a slow starter. Kyrie is improving on the defensive end…and once Coach Brown actually starts installing offensive sets, I think that you’ll see a big improvement on this team.

    Do I think that Irving, Thompson and Waiters comprises a championship trio? No. But that doesn’t mean that this team isn’t on the right path. We’ve got the upcoming draft, and the next free agency period to see if we can get another good piece to add to the puzzle.

    Name me the last team to win a championship that didn’t have holes in it’s roster.
    Miami suffers against big teams that can rebound well. Dallas had a tough time guarding athletic wings. Every team has weaknesses. We have more…but what do you really expect from the 2nd youngest team in the league?