Cavaliers' veteran starting lineup is helping fix offensive woes

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The Cavs haven't been good offensively all year, but a group of veterans is slowly starting to fix that.

Offense has not been the Cavaliers' strength this season. It might be a stretch to say that a 15-25 team has any real "strengths" but they've certainly been better on defense than on offense thus far. The overall defensive numbers don't look great, but a lot of that has to do with the crazy home/road splits. Cleveland allows roughly 10 more points per 100 possessions when they don't get to play at Quicken Loans Arena. That means they've been really solid on defense at home, but really horrible on the road. The offense, however, has been rough no matter where they're playing.

As a whole, the Cavs are scoring 98.4 points per 100 possessions. But that's a number that has been improving lately, thanks to the addition of Luol Deng. Matt Moore of CBS Sports was at the Cavs' most recent win against the Denver Nuggets and wrote a really good piece about how the Cavs' offense has gotten better since they traded for Deng. It's not exactly surprising, considering how much better Deng is than the Cavs' other small forward, but the numbers are pretty remarkable (even in a small sample).

The Cavaliers' biggest problem this season has been offense. They average 98.4 points per 100 possessions on the season, the sixth-worst mark in the league. But the lineup of Kyrie Irving, Miles, Deng, Tristan Thompson, and Anderson Varejao is averaging 118.2 points per 100 possessions, an incredible mark.

A lot of that has to do with the fact that for the first time, the team has spacing. Deng demands so much attention off-ball and is good in working in that capacity that it opens the floor. Add in C.J. Miles' ability to stretch the floor (41.2 percent from three-point range this season) and you have a combination that for the first time, actually makes use of the Cavs' strengths.

Moore also includes a GIF of a pretty interesting play that the Cavs have been using to get Tristan Thompson involved in the offense. Cleveland has much more flexibility on offense now that they aren't simply trying to post-up with Andrew Bynum over and over. It's also worth noting that three of those players in the Cavs' starting lineup are veterans -- Varejao, Thompson, and Deng. This is still a very young team that makes lots of dumb mistakes, but these vets know how to "play the right way."

The Cavs obviously won't be scoring 118 points per 100 possessions because that's ridiculous, but longterm improvement is almost certain. The nice thing about having these veterans in the starting lineup is that they should also be able to defend. If the situation calls for it, Mike Brown could switch out Dion Waiters for C.J. Miles at the end of games.

It may be hard to believe considering the Cavs' continued offensive struggles against the Dallas Mavericks on Monday, but there may be hope for this group to continue improving.

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