Defense Will Fuel Cavs

After just two exhibition games due to the NBA lockout, it appears that Cavs’ coach Byron Scott is still trying to feel his way as to who gets minutes and who doesn’t.

That’s why Scott is playing ten guys in the first two regular season games.  He’s trying to see what he has this season, and after a pair of contests, there are a few things that are becoming apparent.

First, the Cavs will need to win by playing solid defense, because they don’t have a go to guy on offense. 

Opening night against Toronto, the wine and gold were victimized by the pick and roll, and couldn’t overcome it.  Last night versus the Pistons, they got that under control and emerged with a road win.

In order to play better on the defensive end, Scott may want to change-up his rotation down the road.

His current starting unit features Anthony Parker and Antawn Jamison, two veterans in their mid-30’s, and Omri Casspi, who has some quickness issues.

That leaves that group very vulnerable on the defensive end. 

As the season goes on, Scott may replace either Jamison or Casspi with rookie Tristan Thompson (Jamison) or Alonzo Gee (Casspi) in order to provide more balance.

You can tell Scott is still searching for combinations because right now he is basically subbing entire lineups.  But it would be interesting to see Casspi on the floor with Thompson and Gee playing the #2 guard.

That group would give the coach some length and athleticism.

When Parker was re-signed during training camp, we questioned the move, and so far nothing has changed in that regard.

If this team is rebuilding, why give time to a 36-year-old guard?  Parker can still stroke the open three pointer, but hasn’t contributed much more offensively, and can’t move laterally on defense anymore.

The veteran’s minutes could be reduced by giving more time to Gee at guard, and also by using rookie Kyrie Irving and Ramon Sessions together in the backcourt.

Speaking of Irving and fellow rookie Thompson, both are showing why they were both picked in the top five of last summer’s draft.

Irving has shown good point guard skills, and rebounded with a good shooting night against Detroit after struggling in the lidlifter.

He can penetrate and looks to set up his teammates for easy looks.  He’s been erratic on defense at this point, but looks willing, and will learn to play NBA defense with experience.

Thompson has shown a better offensive game than advertised, and has made an impact as a shot blocker.  The former Longhorn can get off the floor.

One thing to remember about rookies, though.  The league will start to take away their go-to moves after a couple of weeks, so they will have to adjust to keep contributing.

Tomorrow night is a good test for this squad, because the Indiana Pacers look to be a much improved team, and they have a good defensive big man in Roy Hibbert. 

In the meantime, the wine and gold have to keep up the defensive effort they had last night against a team with more offensive options. 

Scott’s strategy with these Cavaliers might be to go 10 deep and keep as much pressure as they can on opponents. 

In the long-term, the Cavs will go as far as their young players take them.  However, if adjustments are made to help out on the defensive end of the floor, a 30 win season in the shortened campaign might be a possibility.

JK

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