The Cleveland Cavaliers dropped a road game to the Charlotte Bobcats. Last year these two teams were fighting for 2 of the worst records in the league, while this year each has hopes of parlaying years of losing into the playoffs. The Bobcats currently sit in the 7th seed in the terrible East, hey someone has to make it, while the Cavs sit 3.5 games behind the Atlanta Hawks. Last nights game ended 101-92 but was full of ups and downs for the Cavaliers. Lets take a look at a few themes that were seen last night that have emerged over the season.
Post Up Play = 3 Point Shots
The Cavaliers struggled against Al Jefferson in the post. Jefferson scored 28 points with a couple of mid range shots but mostly bullying the Cavs in the lane. Similar to the game Zach Randolph had against the Cavaliers. The bigger issues for the Cavs is their struggles with good offensive post play causing struggles covering 3 point shooters. Against the Bobcats the Cavs gave up 4 three pointers to Chris Douglas-Roberts who for his career averages making .3 a game but this year is up to a whole .9 a game. They also gave up 3 more to Josh McRoberts, something about the Roberts, the tall power forward who for his career makes .4 a game but this year has upped that to 1.3. The Cavs have to figure out how to help down low without giving up such easy looks. McRoberts behind the back pass from the left low block, all the way out to the right wing for a CDR 3 early in the game was a bad sign of things to come. The Cavs play much better against teams with little low post presence as they guard the outside shot much better.
When They Are On, When They Are Off
Kyrie Irving is the prototype of a player who you can look at his boxscore and know if the team won. If he either shoots a good percentage, meaning he was hot, or has around double digit assists the Cavaliers win. When he doesn’t they don’t. Irving struggles between being a shooter/aggressive offensive player in the Allen Iverson mold and a more complete player like Chris Paul. His natural tendency is towards AI, so his Dion Waiters and Jarrett Jack. When those 3 are on, either hitting shots or moving the ball, the team plays well. When they are off the rest of the team follows suit.
Spencer Hawes has not been with the Cavs very long but the team has come to depend on him. Last night he seemed either tired or unsure of himself on offense. On defense he was aggressive, possibly making up for it. The Cavs have come to be reliant on Hawes to provide early scoring and spacing, as well as his deft passing, to get the offense in a flow. Hawes struggled last night and the team slowed quickly on the offensive end. The second unit did a little better job of moving the ball and moving without the ball but Hawes has become a quick lynch pin to the success of the Cavs offense. Injuries still play a role as Anderson Varejao‘s steadiness is missed as well as C.J. Miles to provide a longer break for Luol Deng. This may be what has tired Hawes out as he tries to ingratiate himself to his new team.
Besides attacking Mike Brown, we have all kicked that horse a few times, what other themes have you seen with the Cavs? Any encouragement from last night?