The Cleveland Cavaliers are in a funk.
Perhaps it’s an annual thing, because they seem to go through this each of the last two Januarys, or maybe they are simply bored as the season has just passed the halfway point.
Maybe it’s a hangover from the franchise’s first title last summer, and they will be able to turn the switch after the All Star game at the end of February.
Whatever, it’s not very pretty to watch.
Monday’s loss to Dallas was embarrassing. Yes, they are missing two starters due to injury in JR Smith and Kevin Love, but so were the Mavericks, who were without Deron Williams and Andrew Bogut.
Dallas is the third worst team in the Western Conference at 18-30 and have a below .500 record at home. And they played the night before and picked up a huge road win, perhaps their biggest of the year, at San Antonio.
Still, the Cavs couldn’t take advantage. They continue to struggle away from Quicken Loans Arena, dropping to 11-10 on the road for the season.
And while LeBron James continues to say the team needs a backup point guard, the biggest need for the wine and gold is to improve their defense.
Yes, if you play an up tempo game, you are going to give up points in the NBA, but the Cavs have allowed 100 or more points in 13 of the last 14 games. In the first 33 games this season, Cleveland held their opponents under 100 points 13 times.
That’s why in today’s “tryout camp” for veterans that the Cavs are having today, we would look for defense first.
Now, that being said, we don’t want players who don’t have any ability to put the ball in the basket, like say DeAndre Liggins. Those players become liabilities when you have the ball and allow teams to double on James and Kyrie Irving.
However, we would look to sign players who can defend, but also have the ability to score. We understand that sounds like an oxymoron, but Tyronn Lue has players who can shoot at his disposal, guys like Smith, Channing Frye, and Kyle Korver.
But outside of Smith, they are not strong on defense.
What is really needed though is an accountability from the current players on the defensive end. We have seen too many opposing players getting by their defender, which causes someone to help, and that leaves someone wide open on the perimeter.
If the help doesn’t arrive, then it’s a lay up. That is happening far too often, and it isn’t just elite players causing problems. Heck, Dallas had Yogi Farrell, currently on a 10 day contract, and Seth Curry, not Steph Curry, parading to the basket.
That just comes down to personal responsibility. Keep your man in front of you. We know they are capable of doing that, which plays into our boredom argument.
We understand there probably isn’t a real threat to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference, but that doesn’t mean if these bad habits aren’t curtailed soon, other teams might feel like they have a shot.
Part of the Cavs’ mystique is many other teams are defeated before they take the floor. That’s something they don’t want to lose, and stepping it up on the defensive end is a step in that direction.