Cavs just wrapped up a road trip where they played a number of good teams from the better conference. One would think that coming home and playing the Bulls — who are also really bad — would help. But it didn’t. Instead, the Cavs lost 104-88 on Monday afternoon in Cleveland and trailed by as many as 21 points. Cleveland now has the worst record in the league by 2.5 games.
NEGATIVE: The Cavs have a math problem
Spoiler alert: The Cavs are an awful three-point shooting team. Coming into Monday, they were 14th in three-point percentage, but 27th in attempts. Against the Bulls, they took 27 threes, but made only six. By comparison, the Bulls finished 15-30 from three. That’s a 27-point difference on its own.
The final score doesn’t indicate this, but this was a winnable game for the Cavs. Chicago was sloppy with the ball and let Cleveland back in the game on several occasions. But what ultimately made the difference was three-point shooting and the Bulls’ ability to take and make three-pointers.
POSITIVE: Cedi Osman getting better at defending bigger players
Longterm, Cedi Osman probably should not be defending fours. Unless he adds serious muscle — which could change how he plays too — he’s best suited to defend twos and threes and not fours. Osman probably can defend smaller fours, but in the last three games, he’s defended Utah’s Derrick Favors, Denver’s Paul Millsap and Chicago’s Lauri Markkanen. All three players are just way bigger and stronger than Osman.
However, Osman did well against Markkanen on Monday. The NBA’s match-up stats will be needed to confirm this, but Osman stayed in front of Markkanen, used his quickness to his advantage and wasn’t too physical to the point of needlessly fouling the bigger player. The only time Osman really struggled was when he lost Markkanen (who has said his elbow is not fully healed) on the perimeter and the Bulls forward made an open-three pointers. Otherwise, Monday’s game was an example learning from the gauntlet the Cavs have put him through because their roster is lacking.
NEGATIVE: Giving up 104 points to the NBA’s worst offense
The Cavs’ defense is historically bad and that’s not going to change. And if the recent road trip is any indication, the defense is actually getting worse. Maybe a healthy Tristan Thompson, a healthy David Nwaba and a healthy Larry Nance Jr. will help some. But they can’t save the Cavs’ defense, and nothing really can at this point.
But Monday’s loss is a new low. Giving up 124 points to the Nuggets (owners of the NBA’s fifth best offense, per nba.com/stats) or 129 points to the Trail Blazers (who have the eighth-best offense, per nba.com/stats) is one thing. But giving up 104 points to a Bulls team that came into Monday at the bottom of the league by 2.9 points per 100 possessions is a new low. The Cavs’ defense is an outright disaster.