The Cleveland Cavaliers have to answer for their poor roster management against the Hawks.
The Cleveland Cavaliers got outplayed and out-coached in their final play-in opportunity. They lost their first shot against the Brooklyn Nets, and then followed up with another disappointing outing against the Atlanta Hawks. The loss to the Nets wasn’t seen as the worst thing ever, as Jarrett Allen was out and the star duo of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant would be hard for any team to stop.
Yet, with the Hawks, Allen was back. The Hawks were an inconsistent team. Trae Young was their best shooter and there wasn’t really anything else beyond him this season for some reason the Cavs decided they were going to try and grind them out on defense. They sat Cedi Osman the whole game, barely played Kevin Love, and when the defense failed, they had no offense to bail them out.
Darius Garland deserves a bulk of that blame on both sides of the court. He shot just 33% from the floor for the game, with very little impact on defense. Caris LeVert didn’t help either on defense and had a key late-game turnover in the fourth quarter that sunk the comeback attempt.
It’s not even worth mentioning Isaac Okoro, as it’s become painfully obvious that if there’s an upgrade for him, the Cavs need to jump on it.
The offensive game plan was poorly executed
Lauri Markkanen couldn’t miss, and Darius Garland couldn’t hit. So who got the most shots in the game? You’d think that JB Bickerstaff would have told Garland to pass more as he struggled to shoot. It’s one thing to tell your best shooter to keep doing just that if it’s a regular-season game, but when you see the Hawks go on an 11-point run, that “shoot yourself out of a slump” mentality is just dumb.
You go with the hot hand. That was Markkanen.
To see Love get just two shots, and Osman not even enter the game in the second half when they were struggling offensively really is a problem. It’s going to eat at me all offseason as to why Bickerstaff decided not to go to them. It’s not like the Hawks’ offense was going to be slowed any, no one could stop Young, so why bother?
You match them or at least try to.
The Cavs should absolutely consider making some big moves to the roster. Okoro may need to be flipped for a better option, Caris LeVert is not the upgrade over Collin Sexton many think he could be, and if the Cavs aren’t going all-in to try and get back Ricky Rubio, I don’t know what this club wants from players then.
If you have to sacrifice offense for defense, then you don’t have the right guys on your roster.