Miami delivered the biggest loss of the season (so far) for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Coming up short: three-point defense
It was another Cavtastrophe (the opposite of a Cavalanche) tonight as the Heat bombarded Cleveland with three-pointers. This has become a theme early on in the season, with opposing teams frequently catching fire from downtown.
Kyle Lowry ripped off five straight three-pointers in the first quarter to set the tone. He was mostly wide-open, as Jimmy Butler and other Heat players collapsed Cleveland’s defense to generate quality looks from deep. The Cavs prioritize protecting the paint — so open three-point shots are the result.
Miami finished 20-35 from behind the arch. This felt eerily similar to Sacramento’s 20-42 shooting performance or Indiana drilling 15-31 three-pointers in another loss for Cleveland. Overall, opponents are shooting 37.7% on three-point attempts versus the Cavs, seventh best in the NBA.
The Cavaliers entered tonight 13th in defensive rating, well below their top-ranked defense from a year ago. Returning to the top of the list will require tighter execution on this end of the floor. Protecting the paint without completely opening the floodgates from deep is key.
Well, that happened…
There wasn’t much to highlight in this game. It was a standard, hold-no-punches beat down for most of the night.
Yet, Craig Porter Jr. continued to impress in his first NBA start. He recorded his fourth straight double-digit game, posting 16 points and 5 assists. This block and finish on the other end is becoming a quintessential play for the rookie.
We also got a glimpse at the Summer League Cavs, with Isaiah Mobley, Sam Merrill and Emoni Bates joining CPJ for garbage time in the fourth quarter. Only, winning the Summer League title was much more enjoyable than... well, garbage time of a blowout loss.
The Cavs have steadied the ship since their rough start to the year. A four-game winning streak pushed them above .500 entering tonight’s game. This loss drops them to 8-7.
On Saturday, LeBron James is back in town. It’s been over 20 years since James made his NBA debut for the Cavaliers. He’s playing at a surreal level, averaging 25.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 6.1 assists as the oldest player in the league. Appreciate The King while you can.