Several Cavs players have initiated a new motto in an attempt to improve their transition defense. It’s a four letter acronym (GTFB), and it rhymes with “get the puck back.” So far, though, the team hasn’t lived up to its new mantra.
Cleveland has struggled to find any sort of rhythm through the first quarter of this season. One of the biggest issues facing the team is transition defense — or the lack thereof. Too often, the Cavs will finish a nice play, only to see the opposing team trot down the floor for an easy basket. Simply put, it can be disheartening.
The “GTFB” motto comes from Cavs veterans Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. As Thompson was addressing the team’s transition play with reporters prior to Monday’s matchup against the Raptors, Love chimed in from a nearby seat after overhearing the conversation, saying: “Get the f— back!”
“There you go,” Thompson said after hearing Love’s comment on how to fix Cleveland’s defensive woes. “GTFB. Get the f— back. We saw on film that guys in the corner are not sprinting back. I’m always going to go to the offensive glass. I’m going to be hitting the glass so we have to get a minimum of three guys back, three to four at all times.”
Though they were high on their new mantra, the Cavs gave up 29 fast-break points to the Raptors. For this reason and others, Toronto walked away with a 20-point victory, 133-113.
The Raptors were running hard, especially on turnovers and fast breaks, which caused a lot problems for the Cavs. Pascal Siakam — a player on the rise — led Toronto with 33 points.
Love explained some of the issues:
“We tend to stand and watch other than sending guys back,” Love said. “Tonight was a perfect example because they’re such a great transition team. Siakam is pushing it and that’s putting pressure on literally everybody — 4s and 5s, we’re crossmatched. I don’t think we work on our crossmatches enough because we are so focused on our own individual matchup. Probably helping the next guy is going to be the next step for us in making sure we cover for that next guy in transition. Then just keeping it real with each other — we need to get back.”
Though the offense has shown positive signs, transition defense has been an issue for Cleveland. As Fedor notes in his article, the Cavs are last in transition frequency and transition points per play. They’re also second-worst in transition points allowed per 100 possessions and 28th in fast-break points allowed.
First-year Cavs head coach John Beilein says he will continue to work on these issues with his players:
“People are just blowing right by us and getting a layup, and we need to use those fouls if you get an advantage,” Beilein said, via cleveland.com. “We’ve got to do something to stop the drive. Siakam is a rare guy, but he wasn’t the only guy that drove right by us today. That’s a big issue we’ve got to continue to work on.”
The Cavs (6-21 overall) will look to get back into the win column on Wednesday night, when they’ll serve as hosts to the Charlotte Hornets (12-17). Tip-off inside Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse is set for 7:00 p.m. ET.