The Cleveland Cavaliers had another rough night. While they weren't blown out by the Milwaukee Bucks, some crucial mistakes and overall sloppy play doomed the Cavs in the end. The result was a 90-86 loss at home against Milwaukee.
Cavs' leaders: Points: Irving, 26; Assists: Gee, 5; Rebounds: Varejao, 18
Here's what happened:
Turnovers. Lots and lots of turnovers. The Cavaliers committed 27 turnovers in 48 minutes of play. Kyrie Irving alone had 6 turnovers and C.J. Miles, Daniel Gibson, and Tyler Zeller combined for 12 more giveaways. You simply cannot win basketball games while giving the opponent that many more possessions. The Bucks had 83 field goal attempts and 27 free throw attempts. The Cavaliers had 81 field goal attempts and 14 free throw attempts. Even if you play good defense and shoot a comparable percentage from the floor, you're going to lose if the opponent has that many more opportunities. The turnovers came in all shapes and sizes. Some were lame shot clock violations while others were just lazy passes directly at defenders. Regardless, it was just ugly and impossible for the Cavs to get into any sort of rhythm. Cleveland turned the ball over on 21.6% of their possessions. It's just unacceptable.
The Cavs once again struggled offensively and simply couldn't hit shots when they weren't throwing the ball out of bounds. Kyrie Irving started off slow and started to get it together later despite landing hard on the ground in the first half. He ended with 26 points on 9 of 23 shooting, which isn't very efficient, but isn't terrible. However, his 6 turnovers to just three assists was terrible. I'm not sure if he was rattled after the fall or if his finger is bothering him, but his passes lacked the precision and urgency that we're used to seeing from him.
Defensively, the Cavs mixed up their assignments quite a bit. Irving started on Brandon Jennings and did a fairly good job. It helped that Jennings couldn't hit shots (and he did miss some fairly wide open looks). Alonzo Gee switched onto Jennings later in the game and Jennings finished just 5 of 20 from the floor. However, it was Monta Ellis who killed the Cavs. Byron Scott noted before the game that it couldn't simply be one on one defense to stop the Milwaukee guards. They needed to face a "wall of defenders" each time they drove the lane. Well, Ellis faced a wall of defenders a number of times and still finished. His body control in the air is pretty impressive and he's always been great at attacking and finishing layups. The thing that has plagued him as a player throughout his career is his tendency to take too many outside shots and plummet his efficiency. Well, he did the same thing on Friday night -- except he was making those shots. Ellis drained jumpers every time the Cavs got close to taking the lead in the fourth quarter. He finished with 33 points on 12 of 24 shooting.
Anderson Varejao somehow grabbed 18 rebounds, but I hardly noticed. He continued to struggle offensively and does look visibly tired. Tristan Thompson continued to look much smoother on offense, but still failed to finish. I'm fairly confident that he'll get there and the fact that he actually looks like he knows what he's doing on that end of the court is encouraging.
C.J. Miles continued to stroke it from deep and contributed 17 points on 6 of 14 shooting. It's not super efficient but the Cavs need someone who can put the ball in the basket and Miles has been doing that while Dion Waiters is hurt. It would be awesome if Miles continued his aggressive (but smart) play when he moves back to the bench as Dion gets healthy.
The Cavaliers got bludgeoned on the offensive boards, allowing 18 offensive boards for Milwaukee. Combine that with their ridiculous turnover rate and you've got yourself a losing formula. The Cavs don't have enough firepower on either side of the ball to play like that and expect a victory.
Fear The Sword's Player of the Game
I guess it's Kyrie Irving? He scored down the stretch and hit some big shots but didn't really takeover. His turnovers contributed big time to the Cavs' loss. I'll give him the nod because he took a nasty fall and stayed in the game. Injury prone, my ass.