Until further notice the Cleveland Cavaliers are a terrible basketball team. I don’t care what they look like against the Jazz tonight. This is not an overreaction to one game or three games. I know the Cavaliers will bounce back and be a good team but last night’s effort was beyond terrible.
We all expected them to struggle early with their chemistry. It’s more than a chemistry issue right now with the Cavs. From my perspective it looks like the Cavs are not trying to learn a new system.
The Cavs started the game shooting 10-10. They looked ready to give Portland a good challenge. The ball was moving; they scored 34 points in the first quarter and had seven assists. After that things went downhill fast.
The Cavaliers stopped moving the ball and settled on ISO basketball. There was rarely any action between the Cavs best players; LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. No Kyrie-Love pick and rolls, no LeBron-Love pick and rolls.
I guess Dion Waiters was upset that he was not involved in the 10-10 shooting in the first quarter. For the rest of the game Waiters stopped moving the ball. The Cavs would start passing but if Waiters touched it he would pound the ball then drive and take an off-balance layup. He was playing like he needed to get his shots up instead of trying to win the game.
Before the season Waiters claimed the Cavaliers had the best backcourt in the game. That backcourt shot 6-28 last night and combined for 15 points. On the other side the most underrated backcourt; Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews shot 14-27 and combined for 48 points.
Once Waiters started the ISO ball everyone followed his lead. LeBron looked disengaged after the first quarter. Maybe he was letting his teammates figure it out, maybe he was injured, and maybe he wasn’t playing hard because the Cavs had a game the next night. I have no idea what was wrong with LeBron but he didn’t look right. He was not aggressive; he did not give any effort on the defensive end. He was playing but resting at the same time. At times when Irving and Waiters dribbled he would stand by half court knowing he would not get the ball.
After the game LeBron said, “It’s going to be a long process. There’s been a lot of losing basketball around here for a few years.”
Kyrie Irving is a special player but he was playing one on one against Damian Lillard last night. He dribbled too much and kept trying to crossover the defender instead of finding the open man. He finished the game with five assists, but he had four assists during that run when the Cavs shot 10-10 in the first quarter.
It looked like he wanted to do everything on his own like he was on last year’s Cavaliers team. He has to realize he has good teammates now. He was dribbling around like he was back in the FIBA World Cup instead of finding an open Kevin Love at the three point line.
Kyrie ISO, LeBron ISO, Love ISO, hey wait don’t forget about me Waiters ISO. That was the Cavaliers offense after the first quarter. This team has a lot of weapons but they failed to score 20 points in a quarter the rest of the game. They had 13 points in the fourth quarter. After seven assists in the first quarter they finished with 18 for the game.
Everyone has to be a willing passer and stop with the hero ball. Waiters might be better suited coming off the bench. He wants to shoot and he can help create shots for the bench. He will take enough shots so Tristan Thompson can clean up the offensive glass.
This team is ranked 20th in scoring, 23rd in points allowed and 25th in assists. LeBron said it best, “This is a team game and you have to rely on your teammates as well.” Until everyone on the Cavs understands this they will continue to struggle.