The Cavaliers now have a record of 5-11, winning only one of their last six. Through 16 games, the Cavaliers have limped to a 12th place spot in the Eastern C?onference. Offensively speaking, the Cavaliers have had a stagnant offense for much of the season as they are 29th in assists per game. In terms of scoring, the Cavaliers are in the bottom five of the NBA in points per game, field goal percentage, and three-point percentage. The defensive performance has been significantly better than the albatross of a 2019 defense. The Cavaliers have escaped the bottom of the NBA in defensive rating as they currently rank 23rd. While that is clearly awful, the effort has improved under Coach John Beilein.
Here is a quick look at each game so far.
Game 11: Heat 108, Cavaliers 97
Points: Love 21
Rebounds: Love 10
Assists: Porter/Dellavedova 4
Steals: Love 4
Blocks: Love/Thompson 1
3 PM: Love/Garland 3
MVP: Kevin Love (3)
Despite the late heroics of Kevin Love, the Cavs fell out to the Kendrick Nunn-fueled Heat. Nunn connected on 10 of 16 shots, contributing 23 points. Bam Adebayo had an all-around game, scoring 16, grabbing 15 boards, and dishing out five assists. For the Cavs, they could not stop a nosebleed on defense, allowing 54.4 percent of Miami’s shots to find the net. For comparison, the Cavs only hit 42.4 of their shots, including just a quarter of their 32 three-pointers. Kevin Porter and Larry Nance had efficient days, knocking down 10 of 16 shots, but Kevin Love and Jordan Clarkson combined to hit just nine of 28 shots. Tristan Thompson had his worst performance of the season, scoring only two points across 23 minutes of action.
Game 12: 76ers 114, Cavaliers 95
Points: Sexton 17
Rebounds: Thompson 9
Assists: Thompson/Clarkson 3
Steals: Garland 2
Blocks: Thompson 3
3 PM: Love 2
MVP: Tristan Thompson (6)
The Cavaliers were run out of the building in the first half, falling behind by 24. The Cavs had no hope of stopping Tobias Harris, who blitzed the Cavs for 27 points on 12-of-14 shooting. The Sixers shot 55 percent from the field and 39 percent from the three, pushing the pace to a place where the inefficient Cavs could not compete. The Cavs hit 38 percent of shots including a shoddy six makes on 25 threes. The most alarming stat of the game was the assist discrepancy. The Sixers more than doubled the Cavs in terms of assists, racking up 33 compared to 14. Moving forward, the Cavaliers must commit to a larger brand of team basketball.
Game 13: Knicks 123, Cavaliers 105
Points: Porter 18
Rebounds: Osman 8
Assists: Clarkson 4
Steals: Porter/Wade 1
Blocks: Thompson 1
3 PM: Knight 4
MVP: Kevin Porter (1)
The Cavaliers were down 23 heading into the fourth quarter, so a slow start once again halted any hope of pulling out of their losing streak. From the tip, Julius Randle and the Knicks rolled. The game was tied for just 13 seconds before the Knicks led the rest of the way. Randle ended with 30 points after hitting 12 of 17 shots. The Cavaliers were able to assist on half of their 36 made shots, and they were fairly efficient, hitting 47.4 percent of their field goals and 47.2 percent of threes. Turnovers plagued the Cavaliers as all five starters turned the ball over multiple times — 19, to be in fact. To compound the turnover problem, the Cavaliers only forced seven Knick turnovers.
Game 14: Heat 124, Cavaliers 100
Points: Love 25
Rebounds: Love 13
Assists: Dellavedova 5
Steals: Osman/McKinnie 3
Blocks: Nance/McKinnie 1
3 PM: Love 5
MVP: Kevin Love (4)
Duncan Robinson ate the Cavaliers, nailing nine of 15 threes including seven in the second quarter. In the comic part of the night, there was a picture that went somewhat viral on Twitter of a Cavaliers’ assistant coach Googling who Robinson was. To make the issue worse, Robinson was coached at Michigan by John Beilein.
In terms of the game, the Cavs were shredded in the first half, being outscored 75-48. The Cavs were plagued by poor shooting nights from Matthew Dellavedova, Darius Garland, Cedi Osman, Jordan Clarkson, and Alfonzo McKinnie, who hit nine of 35 shots and missed 16 of 19 threes. As a whole, the Cavaliers were not atrocious from the field, but they were tanked by the aforementioned shooting woes.
Game 15: Mavericks 143, Cavaliers 101
Points: Garland 23
Rebounds: Thompson 8
Assists: Sexton 5
Steals: Porter/Nance/Zizic 1
Blocks: Osman/Thompson/McKinnie 1
3 PM: Garland 5
MVP: Darius Garland (1)
Darius Garland flashed his potential, hitting five of eight threes and posting a team-high 23 points, but the story of the night was the man, the myth, the legend, Luka Doncic. Doncic obliterated the Cavs, posting 30 points and 14 assists in just 29 minutes. Doncic hit 61 percent of his shots and all four of his free throws, contributing to a 42-point drubbing. Despite being down just three after 12 minutes, the Cavaliers were outscored 82-45 over the next 24 minutes. It was a mess.
Game 16: Cavaliers 110, Trail Blazers 104
Points: Clarkson 28
Rebounds: Osman/Nance 12
Assists: Osman 5
Steals: Sexton 3
Blocks: Clarkson/McKinnie 1
3 PM: Clarkson 6
MVP: Jordan Clarkson (1)
Cedi Osman and Darius Garland had rough nights, hitting just five of 23 shots, but Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson more than answered the call, pitching in for 53 total points on 15 of 26 shooting, including Clarkson’s six-for-six effort from three-point land. They also combined to hit 17 of 19 free throws in the victory. The Blazers suffered from an inefficient trio of C.J. McCollum, Damian Lillard, and Carmelo Anthony, who hit 20 of 54 shots, balanced by Anthony’s zero-for-eight performance from the three-point line. The Cavs withstood a miniature Lillard explosion in the fourth quarter to escape with the win.
The Cavaliers have six players averaging at least 9.9 points per game, a display of some talent on the roster. Kevin Love leads the team with 17.9 points per game with Collin Sexton following closely at 17.8 points per game. Love has been inefficient, but he is averaging his most rebounds per game since his Minnesota days. Love can be penciled in as an All-Star if he keeps 18 and 12 averages for the rest of the season.
As I continue to harp on, the ball movement is a problem. Assists are not the only way to measure ball movement, but the Cavs have been inconsistent at spreading the rock around. The offense would be aided with more ball movement and a heavier passing system. It is a colossal problem that Darius Garland leads the team with 3.2 assists per game.
Garland and Porter have shown flashes of the future, but they are currently hilariously inefficient. Both guards shoot below 40 percent, and both are below average from the three-point line. Both have been solid from the free-throw line, but the sample size is a total of 43 attempts. Both have bright futures, but they are not quite there.
Granted that only 20 percent of the season has passed, Sexton has not made much of leap in Year 2. He has slightly improved his efficiency from the field, but his accuracy from three and the free-throw line have slipped from his rookie season. The most alarming stat is Sexton’s 2.1 assists per game. Sexton has trimmed his turnovers down below two per game, but 2.1 assists is
simply unacceptable for a starting point guard.
Next Five Games:
The Cavaliers finish out a six-game homestand with games against the Nets, Magic, Bucks, Pistons, and Magic again. The Nets, Magic, and Pistons have been ravaged with injuries to this point, so the Cavs could sneak a few wins out of this stretch of games before the schedule stiffens during the second week of December.