Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach Ty Lue said this season won’t be measured in wins and losses, but rather “wins and lessons.” With that in mind, WFNY is going to follow along with what we learn every week.
After three hard lessons to start the season, it is beginning to look like the Cleveland Cavaliers are slow learners. The first two games showed a team that lacked the talent to match superior opponents but were able to maintain their effort and close big gaps to make close contests out of potential blowouts. When offered the opportunity to put those lessons to use against an inferior opponent, the Cavs failed miserably. Still searching for their first win after three contests, the Cavaliers are in danger of losing hope on the organization’s stated goal of a playoff birth.
So, what have we learned?
The defense is bad. Very bad. The Cavaliers are playing fast on offense, but aren’t able to keep up when being attacked on the other end. They are playing at the ninth fastest pace in the league, but giving up the second most points per 100 possessions. While this pace has created some gaudy offensive numbers, their efficiency isn’t good enough to make this a weapon, scoring at the 17th most efficient rate in the NBA.
Kevin Love can’t get the ball in the hoop. He’s scoring the most points, grabbing the most rebounds, and dishing the most assists per game as he has in his Cleveland career, but only shooting 30 percent from the field. He is struggling to score around the rim and being bothered whether he’s facing larger defenders or smaller, more athletic defenders. Luckily, he is getting to the line enough to still rack up points, but starting a new massive contract, it is scary to see Love struggling to this extent.
Where is Collin Sexton? The Collin Sexton that attacked summer league, pressuring defenses and initiating the offense only showed up in spurts this season. Sexton has been mostly passive, passing the ball off and mostly just standing around the perimeter. When he does try to create he’s relied almost solely on pull up jumpers. He’s only using 21 percent of the team’s possessions when he’s on the floor and has an assist rate of six percent. He looks passive and unsure of his role on offense in this young season. There have been flashes, and when he attacks he’s been exciting, it’s just odd to see the Young Bull struggle to get out of the gate.
Cedi Osman is very good. Osman has been a focal point of the team and excelled in that role. He’s averaging more than five assists per game while also scoring efficiently. He had two nice alley oops (is it still an alley oop if it ends in a layup?) to Kevin Love on Sunday night and has been a bright spot in an early season of struggles.
The missing vets. JR Smith and Kyle Korver were healthy scratches in Sunday’s contest. While the youth movement makes sense, it is still hard to see how someone with Kyle Korver’s skillset and instant offense couldn’t help a sputtering club. JR Smith has had issues in the past with regular season defense, but may still be one of the better options on the table. The Cavaliers have a glut of playable guards and wings and a dearth of power forwards. The roster is going to have to be sorted out for better or worse in the near future.
The schedule is not the Cavaliers’ friend. If the Cavaliers want to have any hope at challenging for a playoff spot they need to bank some wins in the coming weeks, as the schedule becomes a gauntlet to end November. There is a good chance that by December 5th the trajectory of this season becomes clear and not in a good way.
Let’s hope the Cavs can find their first win against arch nemesis Spencer Dinwiddie and the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.