5 Answers To The Cavs’ Question: “Where’s The Defense?”
#3 Wing Defense Woes
Wing defense has been a concern all season, since the Cavaliers do not have an elite wing defender – LeBron’s the best we got and he’s a forward! Matthew Dellavedova is an solid defender but often an offensive liability who lacks the necessary play-making abilities of a Point Guard. Opponents shoot 65.9% in the Cavs’ restricted area, which is 29th in the league, revealing the Cavs’ inability to stop opponents on the wings and limit dribble penetration. Consequently, opponents are easily able to get past the first line of defense, thus greatly increasing their chances of scoring in the paint. A prime example of this was Cleveland’s recent embarrassing home court blowout loss against Detroit, in which Waiters and company (Kyrie Irving inactive from injury) weren’t able to contain a volatile Pistons backcourt featuring Brandon Jennings, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and D.J. Augustin. Early penetration from these three extremely nimble guards opened up the Cavs’ defense, which cracked when the Pistons spread the floor and shot a franchise record 17 three’s while still nearly matching Cleveland’s points in the paint (34-36).
Recently, Dion Waiters has stepped up in this regard, showing aggressiveness and defensive tenacity instead of banking on his offensive production; in the Miami Christmas Day special, Waiters was the Cavs’ biggest energy source with three steals and two blocks. However, the Cavs haven’t received that sort of effort from enough of its roster on a daily basis.
Fret not, as there are solutions. Rookie Joe Harris, for example, has excellent on-ball defense and has recently seen more playing time over veteran Mike Miller at the Shooting Guard spot despite his lack of NBA experience. However, it goes beyond talent for the Cavaliers (literally, not too many moving parts left on the roster). Cleveland has more fundamental issues on defense that can only be fixed with time, continue to the next page to find out what.