Good morning. The Cleveland Cavaliers don’t play basketball tonight and won’t be playing again for over a week which is probably for the best.
The first sip
It feels like the Cavs have hit a wall. The suffocating defense that led to blowout wins hasn’t been there the last week or so. This was especially true in last night’s loss to the Atlanta Hawks as Trae Young finished with 41 points while attempting more free throws than the Cavs did as a team (13 to 12).
But grifting wasn’t the reason the Cavs lost. The defense at the point of attack was among the worst we’ve seen all season. The Hawks were able to get a free run to the basket as evidenced by their 52 points in the paint. Getting beat off the dribble opened up easy kick outs for open threes which Atlanta knocked down with regularity as they went 14 for 33 (42.4%) from beyond the arc. To top it off, the Cavs weren’t great in transition and lost that battle 16 to 8.
All in all the Cavs were lucky they even had a shot in that game considering the 2019 Cavsesque defense.
That said, it’s important to have some perspective. People optimistic about the Cavs’ chances before the season would’ve had a hard time saying they’d win 35 games in total. They’ve already done that and are currently in fourth place in the Eastern Conference with two(!) all-stars. This season has already exceeded our wildest dreams.
The Cavs are better than they’ve shown the last two games. I expect them to return to form after their well earned break. They are still set up to make a run at the top spot in the East as they’re currently 2 games out of first and have the easiest remaining strength of schedule among teams currently in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
All is not lost. This team is still good. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the all-star festivities in our backyard.
This time, the Cavaliers’ revival has nothing to do with LeBron James.
Links of the day
How the Clippers cornered a stumbling Warriors defense
Charles Barkley says he’ll ‘probably’ retire from TNT at end of contract :(
Which team will win a suddenly crowded East race?
Turner Sports to provide multiple viewing experiences for 2022 NBA All-Star Game
James Harden on Nets-76ers trade: NBA stars can mostly control own destiny