When the Cleveland Cavaliers tipped off against the Utah Jazz Saturday night, they began the second half of the 2012-2013 season. The first 41 games didn’t go as well as the team had hoped. The Cavs lost 109-98 and fell to 10-32 on the year. Lots of improvement is obviously needed and here are some of the things Cleveland can do to make the final 40 games better than first half of the season.
Change #1: No More Travel
The Cavaliers already have both of their annual west coast trips under their belt so they won’t need to worry about staying away from home for too long. Cleveland just finished up a five game road trip, going just 1-4. The other trip came in a form of six games with C-Town going just 1-5. Obviously the road has not been kind to the Cavaliers, but only need to worry about a three game road trip at the end of February from here on out.
Change #2: Play an Easier Schedule
This one won’t be as easy for Cleveland. The final 40 games feature 23 opponents over or at the .500 mark on the season. The number could easily shift up or down depending on how the year turns out. However, with only 17 current teams under .500 remaining on the 2013 slate, the Cavs will head into a lot of contests as the underdogs against many quality opponents.
Change #3: Commit to Defense
Cleveland is one of just seven teams that average over 100 opponent points per game. All seven of these teams have a losing record. The team ranked in the bottom third of the league in rebounding and dead last in blocked shots. The Anderson Varajao injury doesn’t help the cause for any improvement either. Other ways to create good defense is by forcing turnovers. Cleveland is a top 10 team in steals and stay out of foul trouble most nights. These are both positives.
Change #4: Move the Rock
It’s no surprise that a team that ranks 22nd in scoring, as the Cavs do, struggles to spread the basketball around. Cleveland is 29th (second-to-last) in team assists. This is never good for teams that lack true scorers. The season has been the Kyrie Irving show in the 31 games that he’s played. He averages 23+ per night is the team’s far and away best player. However, other guys have to get involved. Rookie Dion Waiters averages 14.8 points per game. After that, nobody is above 11. Worse yet, Irving is the only player on the team with an assist average of over 3.5 per night. Everybody has to get involved for the Cavs to take the offensive load off only Irving and Waiters. The team’s assist-to-turnover ratio is dead last in the league, thus confirming the offense is an absolute mess.
Change #5: Protect the Home Floor
Quicken Loans Arena is on average about 80% full in the first 16 home games on the year. For a 10-32 basketball team, that’s not too bad. The Cavs have won just four times in Cleveland. This is completely unacceptable. A few years ago, the Cavs lost twice at home all year. Times have changed, indeed. Cleveland will stay in town a lot in the second half of the season, so they better take advantage of it. It starts Tuesday night against Boston.