Well the Cavs have been playing basketball, or something approaching it. Winning has not happened.
The Cavaliers are in last place in the NBA in both record and Net Rtg. The offense checks in at No. 25, and the defense at No. 29. They've managed this against the No. 25 schedule. They are No. 22 in FTr and dead last in 3PAr. They are last in FG% at the rim, and No. 24 in 3P%.— Eustacchio Raulli (@EVR1022) October 26, 2018
There’s a lot going on in that tweet, and none of it is particularly good. The Cavs, thus far, are the worst team in basketball and seem to be playing without purpose. On its face that’s okay. It’s a team devoid of top-end talent and perhaps the only way to get it will be to have a high selection in next year’s NBA draft. That being said, there are some things you’d want to see, and we’ll get into that a bit below.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (0-5) vs Indiana Pacers (3-2)
When? 7:30 p.m.
Where? Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio, NBA League Pass
Enemy Blog? Indy Cornrows
Cavs status updates: No update yet on Kevin Love
Pacers status updates: None
Everyone knows that the Philadelphia 76ers spent some years tanking. Everyone knows that the Brooklyn Nets have been really bad the last couple years. What people who follow the league closely know, though, is that during the actual games there was a method to the madness.
The Sixers pushed the envelope on how player tracking data was used, and gave out bonuses to players who covered the most court or had the the highest average speed while they played. They incentivized effort. They gave big minutes to fringe NBA guys, and it turns out that Robert Covington can play a little bit. As they elite talent, they incorporated a modern offense and tried to play with pace. They did not win. Brett Brown was miserable at times. But they did seek to build an identity.
The Nets, similarly, spent last season in purgatory, but took flyers on young shooters like Joe Harris. He’ll never be a star, but he’s looking like a decent role player, and the Nets have an offense that values pace and three point shooting.
The Cavs have some nice young players. Collin Sexton, Cedi Osman, Ante Zizic, and even guys like David Nwaba (not that young, but we’ll go with him anyway) deserve to get time. The guys who are playing are not being encouraged to take valuable shots. Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, and even Kyle Korver are finding themselves taking lots of midrange jump shots - just what opposing teams want. In the meantime, Channing Frye, George Hill, J.R. Smith, Korver, and other veterans are soaking up minutes.
I’d be fine with that, if they had skill sets that were being used to maximize what the younger players are supposed to bring. But the Cavs don’t have creators in the backcourt that can set up teammates. Hill and Korver are nice spot up guys, but Clarkson and Sexton aren’t going to find them. Do you just give Sexton the ball with Hill, Korver, Love, and Nance around him and just hope for the best? I don’t know.
The team’s problems are deep, but the losses are generally a symptom of a lack of talent. Again, that part’s acceptable. You’d hope an identity would start to be formed in the meantime. At some point the team will win, but it won’t come against the Indiana Pacers. It’s a prideful and pretty good Pacers team that a) doesn’t like the Cavs and b) feel like they are building something good and haven’t come out of the gates as strongly as they’d like. This is a game that they’re likely to put their foot down.
My thought on the Pacers: why aren’t they in the Jimmy Butler conversation? It’s outside of the style of the team, but they aren’t that far off from the elite in the Eastern Conference, and Butler is really good. He’d take pressure off of Victor Oladipo, and give the team a bit more attitude and playmaking. Maybe you can’t re-sign him, but why not have some faith in your organization? You can’t win without stars, and Butler is a star.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
Pacers 105, Cavs 92.