Could the Cavs maintain the momentum after their victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night? In short, no, and that is very disappointing because if Cleveland wants to make the playoffs, these are the games they are going to have to win. It wasn't a back-to-back, so the Cavs had two days to regain their focus to prepare for the Charlotte Bobcats. There were certainly positive moments, but it seemed like the things I championed in my last article fell to the wayside.
Things I liked:
Tristan Thompson - As I said in my last article, I knew I would have plenty of time to eventually write about Thompson. He was easily the teams best frontcourt player, and I expect that to continue throughout the season unless Andrew Bynum is 100% healthy and engaged. Thompson was very efficient from the floor: shooting 6-10 from the field and a surprising 9-10 from the free-throw line. He was 4-6 in the paint, and a impressive 2-4 on jumpers. I like how he continues to be strong around the basket, and he is improving his outside jumper while taking manageable 12-15 footers. Tristan impressed me with this defensive effort, particularly with his active hands. With roughly six minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Thompson was able to deflect an entry pass, ran the floor, and was the beneficiary of a lob from Kryie for an easy dunk.
C.J. Miles - I know we are only two games into the season, but Miles is really filling in nicely as the first G/F off the bench. He was the only bench player who posted a positive +/- for the game, and in the second half, he seemed like one of the only players who cared. C.J. was again very good from 3-point distance going 4-7, but I really liked how he mixed it up by going to the rim and scored on all four of his attempts in the paint. He also was very active defensively; he led the team in steals with three, including a steal at the 4:20 mark left in the 4th quarter giving the Cavs a chance to tie down 80-82.
Things I didn't like:
The flat-footed defense from the frontcourt players in the first half. The Bobcasts were constantly able to make nice interior passes leading to easy scores. Josh McRoberts particularly was able to pick apart the defense with his passing both in the paint and from the high-post; he finished the half with five assists. It doesn't help when your perimeter guys aren't keeping anyone out of the lane, however, rotating over and at least getting your hands up seems pretty basic.
I wasn't thrilled with how lazy the team was in their transition defense. With apologies to Shawn Marion, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist might have the ugliest shot in the league. More importantly, last year he shot less than 30% from 3-23 feet, including an astonishing low 8.7% from 10-15 feet. You simply have to force that guy into taking jumpers, yet the Cavs allowed him to get two transition baskets in the early 3rd quarter by simply not running back on defense after turning the ball over. While this isn't the only example, you have to limit guys like MKG because its the only way they are going to hurt you offensively.
Things that concern me going forward:
Is it me, or has Anderson Varejao lost a little bit of foot speed defensively? In the 4th quarter, both Gerald Henderson and Kemba Walker began driving to the rim off screens only to take step-back jumpers; Henderson missed his attempt but Walker made his. In both instances Andy went with the dribbler. On the surface, it would seem like a victory. Except since Andy made a b-line to the rim, he was unable to contest either jumper. While I don't want to give up a layup, I certainly want to be able to contest every shot if possible. Also, there would have been help coming from the weak-side had he not been able to hedge the dribbler.
Kyrie Irving isn't doing much when double-teamed off the pick-and-roll/dribble hand-offs. We don't have a stretch-PF on the roster, and after two games, I am starting to see teams doubling Irving out of the pick-and-roll and dribble hand-offs. They are going to continue to do that so long as the Kyrie remains relatively ineffective. Now I know we are trying to get the pick-and-pop going, but having a big actually dive towards the rim would be nice. Regardless, Kyrie has to have more of a plan going forward. Perhaps send the guard/forward in the weak-side corner baseline while the PF/C who isn't involved in the pick-and-roll sets a screen so the guard/forward flashes into Kyrie's vision for perhaps a reverse layup. Or they could have run screen-and-rolls with Miles because they wouldn't have been able to double Irving leaving him in a one-on-one situation with Kemba Walker.
Look, it has only been two games, no time to panic. While I would have liked to see the Cavs carry the momentum from their upset in the home opener, it wasn't like we got blown-out. A stop here, a made shot there, and we win that game. We'll see how things go tonight at Indiana. My biggest gripes are related to effort and mental focus, both are correctable. We are a young team, and haven't been thinking playoffs since the 2009-2010 season. It will take some time for this team to learn how to win consistently on the road, and I hope we get there sooner than later.
 McRoberts is a good passer for a big; last year he had seven games in which he finished with five assists or more. Still, five at the half isn't acceptable.
 I know I just said that the back-line rotations from the frontcourt were poor. I would like to think someone would have came over from the weak-side, but who knows.
 If Jarrett Jack gets his hands up for even one of those Walker 3-pointers, I think we have a chance to win the game.
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