2016-17 NBA Season Week 6 Recap: Cavs
Just as I praise the Cavs for not being a victim of their own success, they mess around and lose three straight games; it wasn’t just that they lost, it was how they lost. Completely outclassed on both sides of the floor against three teams they should have beaten. During the three game losing streak, the Cavs are a putrid 25th in points per 100 possessions (99.6). My eyes could be playing tricks on me, but I could have sworn I saw David Blatt on the sidelines coaching the team last week. Defensively, Cleveland couldn’t stop a nosebleed. During the three game skid, Cleveland is allowing 113.9 points per 100 possessions, good enough for the fifth-worst mark in the league. Don’t get me wrong, it is far, far too early to panic, Cleveland will be fine, but the effort on both sides of the floor needs to arrive.
It all started on a chilly (I don’t know if it was actually chilly, but its Milwaukee so probably) Tuesday night against the Bucks. One team looked like the defending NBA champions who came back from a 3-1 finals deficit (Spoiler alert: It was not the defending NBA champs) and the other looked like a struggling team with a ton of upside but just can’t seem to put the pieces together. First quarter was business as usual for Cleveland, blitzing Milwaukee to build a double-digit lead. But then, Giannis took over the game. He was everywhere. Terrorizing Cleveland in the open floor, dazzling with passes from all angles. It didn't matter that Giannis can’t shoot a paper ball into a trash can cause he got in the paint at will against Cleveland, even posting up LeBron like a child for an easy layup. My favorite moment of the game— matter of fact, entire season— came during this game. JR Smith happened and when JR Smith goes FULL JR Smith, you never forget where you are when you saw it. Coming out of a timeout, Milwaukee was inbounding the ball on their own baseline. For those scoring at home, Cleveland was on defense. Now, I understand players are friends and sometimes want to catch up a little. Normally, they do it before or after the games, but JR adheres to his own rules dammit. He decided to go check what’s happening with Jason Terry, who just so happened to be on the bench, in the middle of the goddamn play. Sure he gave up a wide-open layup to Tony Snell, but he did what friends do and made sure Terry was doing well. Induct that man into the Hall of Fame right damn now.
The skid continued at home against the Clippers, in a game I was very excited to watch. Only one team was excited to play though, and it was not the Cavs. JJ Reddick tormented Cleveland from the very start getting any and every shot he wanted. JR wasn’t fighting around the screens and was closing too hard on JJ pump fakes, allowing him to take one dribble pull-ups all day long. Deandre jumped over the Cavs and Blake ran through and around them. The first half was close on the scoreboard but not in effort and will. Once again defense was the issue, allowing the Clippers to shoot 47.2% from the field and 41.9% from long range. Bron scored 16 to go along with 5 turnovers and 0 effort. Cleveland only scored 15 points in a telling 3rd quarter when the Clips put a stranglehold on the game en route to a 113-94 win.
Cleveland had a short amount of time to sulk in their shittiness, as they had a meeting with the Chicago Bulls the very next night. Only thing that changed was the date as Cleveland looked as if they had somewhere else they would rather be. Cleveland allowed a staggering 78 points in the paint. Taj Gibson looked less like a foot than he normally does and more like Hakeem Olajuwon, scoring 23 points and grabbing 11 boards simply dominating the paint. Rondo acquired a triple double in the outing as well. Cleveland was out rebounded by 16 and outscored by 18 in the paint which nullified the poor Chicago shooting from outside (3 for 18). Kyrie had 20 points and eight assists but the effort from he and his teammates are still on thanksgiving break. Cleveland gets some time to steer the ship in the right direction as they have two days off before facing another tough test in the Toronto Raptors. As LeBron said after the Bulls game, its time to get out of the honeymoon stage and start playing like a championship team.