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Cleveland Cavaliers one play explained: LeBron James doesn’t close out on a three-pointer

One play highlights a fixable defensive issue.

Cleveland Cavaliers v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Tyronn Lue is mad about the Cavs’ three-point defense over the last three games, and understandably so. Over that stretch, the Magic, Bulls and Nets shot 44.7 percent (51-114) on three-pointers against the Cavs. Currently, that would make them the second best three-point shooting team in the NBA.

Some of what has gone wrong for the Cavs’ defense is simply good shot making by the other team. Late in the Nets game, for example, the Cavs contested most of the Nets’ three-point shots. Spencer Dinwiddie’s late make to seal a Brooklyn win was just a good shot. That happens. The Cavs know that better than anyone.

But there are other moments where the Cavs are simply closing out poorly and giving the opposing team wide open looks. It comes in a variety of forms — bad angles on close outs, poor communication, a lack of effort, you name it. Even LeBron James, who has been otherwise excellent, has been part of the problem:

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the player who LeBron didn’t close out on, is a non-shooter. For both his career, and this season, he takes less than one three-pointer per game, per basketball reference. But all James really has to do here his close out on Hollis-Jefferson to gift him a wide open corner three. Flip through makes from the last three games and you’ll find a number of similar clips from a slew of Cavs.

As you can see, James looks to the bench and acknowledges his mistake. The team seems to know that this is a problem that needs to get fixed, and a little effort would go along way.