Defense continues to be an issue for the Cleveland Cavaliers and things might not get better any time soon. The team lost 124-107 as the Indiana Pacers feasted in transition and behind the arc.
To make matters worse, the team lost Tristan Thompson during Wednesday night’s game against the Indiana Pacers with a calf strain.
The Cavs actually played with a noticably higher level of effort against Indiana, yet it didn’t make much difference. Aggressive close-outs still allowed Darren Collison and the other Pacers wings to effortlessly get into the paint and generate easy kick-out opportunities.
Indiana received phenomenal play from their guard tandem of Collison and Victor Oladpio, scoring 25 and 23 points respectively. While the trend of stretch big men going off against the Cavs continued as Thad Young, Domantas Sabonis and Bojan Bogdanovic combined for 58 points.
- The story of the Cavs this season has been simple... The team has sucked, LeBron James has not. James finished with 33 points, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals. On several occasions it appeared like there was a chance he may drag the team to a victory, but it never ended up being enough. However some of the struggles the Cavs experienced on the night could be attributed to James, as he was responsible for 8 of the team’s 22 turnovers.
- Derrick Rose looked very comfortable for the Cavs, as he was assertive and effective attacking the basket. He finished with 19 points on 9-13 shooting. However his perimeter defense was abysmal and didn’t contribute much in terms of play-making, finishing with one assist and two turnovers.
- The defensive communication was abysmal for most of the evening. The team often did a good job defending the initial set for the Pacers in the halfcourt. But the lack of rotations and awareness routinely resulted in an open looks from behind the arc. If they continue to allow their opponent to get comfortable from three, teams will continue to perform better than expected from there.
- One positive from this game might be the removal of the myth that effort will fix everything. The team clearly has lacked the sense of urgency necessary to preform at a high level. This isn’t a roster that fits together as well as past seasons and they don’t have the same level of experience together to count on. They need to put in work towards figuring things out and discovering what works best for them. There’s too much talent on this roster to play this poorly.
- The injury to Tristan Thompson really couldn’t come at a worse time. The team has had almost no continuity this season due to injuries and now they lose their only big man capable of making a difference on the defensive end. Coming into this game, it was revealed that Thompson had been playing hurt so far this season. Now he may miss time with a calf strain. The team needs it’s best players to play better and they can’t do that if they aren’t on the court.