3. The Cavaliers’ defensive switch hasn’t been flipped
One of the major weaknesses for the Cavaliers heading into the postseason was their defense — or, lack thereof. During the regular season, the Cavaliers ranked 22nd in the NBA for defensive efficiency, at 108.0. It would be one of the worst defenses to ever win an NBA Championship, if the Cavaliers pull it off.
Cavs’ head coach Tyronn Lue said that the Cavs were going to try something different defensively in the playoffs and flip the proverbial switch. Well, four games later, the Cavaliers should try and check if the switch is broken. They’re 12th out of 16 teams in postseason defensive efficiency at 111.0, which is worse than where they were in the regular season. In the four games, Cleveland looked like they could get stops when they needed to, but for the most part were a defensive mess.
Let’s be real, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love aren’t paid to be defensive stoppers. J.R. Smith can be the Cavs’ best perimeter defender, but tends to be lackadaisical sometimes. Cleveland seems to be a bit older and slower at times than the team they’re playing.
In Game 2, Cleveland almost blew a late lead, giving up 33 points in the final frame to Indiana. In Game 3, LeBron and Co. gave up 74 points in the first half. Although they shut down the Pacers in the second half of that game, their defense tends to come and go.
This may not be sustainable as the Cavaliers continue to progress, hopefully they’re able to switch this flip that everyone keeps talking about.