Cleveland Cavaliers build championship defensive habits during win streak

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: LeBron James /

The Cleveland Cavaliers are forming some nice defensive habits during their seven game win-streak. Here’s what’s changed?

As the Cleveland Cavaliers floundered to start the year, the Boston Celtics went on to rip off victory after victory.

The Wine and Gold faithful had no choice but to look inward at their own roster to look for positive signs.

Sure, LeBron James‘ name would’ve slapped you in the face, but beyond The King, there wasn’t a whole lot to get excited about.

Upon further review, you would’v seen a team ranked with the NBA’s 30th defensive rating.

Sure, the league’s changed dramatically during the Warriors’ rise, but a squad needs to get stops at some point.

A good rule of thumb: Being a top 10 defensive team usually bolsters your shot to win the title.

When the Cavs won the championship, LeBron James and company were the 10th rated defense during the regular season, according to

Last season, the Cavs were ranked 22nd defensively. They had the firepower to compete with Golden State, but as the Finals proved, defense was nothing more than a rumor.

Well, during the streak, the Cavs are on the cusp of possessing one of the league’s best defenses.

During the streak, the Cavs are 11th in the NBA’s defensive rating according to The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd.  Opponents field-goal percentage? They’re also 11th. They’re the fourth best team when shutting down opponents’ 3-point percentage.

Cleveland improved its defense  by moving Kevin Love back to center, while Jae Crowder has taken up the responsibilities of the power forward. This is how the Cavs began the season, and if you’ll recall, they held both of their first two opponents under 100 points.

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There’s really nothing hard to understand here. Love can’t switch on the pick-and-roll. Crowder can. With Crowder playing power forward, the Cavs can switch 1-4.

Now, Love’s offense seems to suffer when asked to play center, and that will be something worth watching as the Cavs move into December.

Against the Hornets last night, Love had only 11 points, but he did collect 13 rebounds.

He went up against Dwight Howard, and while Howard scored 20 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, the former No. 1 overall pick left Quicken Loans as a loser.

It was a gritty effort by Love, but I’m not sure how this plays out over the course of the season. His rim protection skills leave a lot to be desired, which is why the Cavs are rumored to be seeking DeAndre Jordan in a trade for Tristan Thompson.

There’s still plenty of time to figure out lineups, but at the very least, the Cavs are showing some good habits early on this season.