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Cleveland Cavaliers Scribbles for November 6

Some notes about the Cavs since the start of the season, guys.

Gene Sweeney Jr.

Welcome to this week's Cavs Scribbles, friends. Here are the things I've been thinking about this past week:

  • LeBron James has played almost 42 minutes in every game except the Portland game (where he played about 35 minutes). He would have played more in the Portland game, that game didn't go well. This was after pre-season talk from David Blatt about playing LeBron fewer minutes this year. Alas.
  • I'm not altogether concerned that LeBron hasn't played well. I'm not altogether concerned that any player on this team hasn't played well. What concerns me on an individual level is that LeBron has been abysmal on defense, yet he hasn't held himself accountable for his role in this team's defensive struggles.
  • Most concerning was how he blamed Tristan Thompson for not defending Gordon Hayward's game winning shot well enough during the game against Utah last Wednesday. This is the shot where LeBron fell down defending Hayward while failing to fight through a screen.
  • If I'm focusing a lot on the things LeBron is doing wrong, it's because he is the leader of this Cavs team. On one hand, he's earned himself a level of instant respect and forgiveness because he has won titles and MVP awards in the past. On the other hand, a leader needs to be the best example of the things he is calling out in other players. So far, he has often been the worst example.
  • Saying this, I'm not worried about LeBron -- I'm worried about what his example will instill in the younger Cavs players.
  • I was watching the Utah Jazz feed on Wednesday night, and they predictably complained about the difference in free throw attempts between the two teams. Cavs shot 40 free throws and Jazz shot 22. Watching the game, I would have liked it if the Jazz shot more free throws. At least that would have meant they weren't getting wide open layups and dunks all game. It's almost astounding the Jazz were fouled even that many times with how few times the Cavs contested any of their shots inside
  • For reference, Portland had 25 attempts, Chicago  17 attempts, and New York 18 attempts. The median attempts per game last year was exactly 25. It's beyond the scope of this article to look at that any deeper, but it's something I'll be keeping my eye on all season. I'd feel really good about those low free throw attempts if it looked like the Cavs were making even the smallest attempt at contesting inside shots.
  • Kyrie Irving was mic'd up in the game against Chicago last week. He was caught first saying something to the effect of, "This is like playoff basketball." A little later, he went up to Mike Miller during a timeout and said, "Hey, is this like the playoffs?" I thought that was really funny.
  • Blatt has messed with different rotations each and every game. With Delly out, that probably complicates things just a little bit since Blatt seemed to take a shining to the kid. I expect this lineup tinkering to continue well into December, but it'll be interesting to watch if certain two or three player pairings start to solidify. I'll be watching to see which starters Blatt plays together with his bench units.
  • FTS' Trevor Magnotti wrote about my last point more in depth today.
  • I don't really know, but I would guess this team isn't going to really get on a roll until they win one game "the right way" (IE - the way Blatt wants them to play). Positive reinforcement typically makes a bigger impact than negative reinforcement. Unfortunately, Blatt hasn't had a lot of positive to bring up with this team. I expect things to start to click very quickly once they win a game or two the Blatt way.
  • Of course, maybe they just ignore everything he believes in and put together a bunch of wins by just being super talented. I hope not. That's not going to win the Cavs a title.
  • Whether you like or dislike LeBron, Love or Kyrie, they are all smart human beings. AV and Tristan are also smart. Those are the most important players on this team. For all the doom and gloom in my other points, I'm not very worried.