Defense… A Novel Concept

First of all, many of you may have noticed that I was absent yesterday.  This was due in part to the birth of the Yankee Loving Fiancée’s new cousin.  John Parker Whittemore IV came into the world on January 18th at 10:46 AM Central Time.  He weighed in at 7 lbs. 7 oz. and 19 inches long.  So, from Die Hard Night and all of its readers… Welcome to Earth, Parker!  And yes the brainwashing has already begun despite the fact he was born in Louisiana….

Anyways, back to the matter at hand…

The Cavs are struggling.  This much is obvious.  But what facet of the game can we point to and say, “yes, this is their problem.”  Well apparently Byron Scott has come to a realization.  Blame it on the defense.  In all honesty, Scott is correct.  The “defense” the Cavs have been playing since around the end of November has been an embarrassment.  First off, it passes the eye test.  Just watching the Cavaliers on a nightly basis you can see that there is both a lack of effort and execution on the defensive end.  Second, the numbers don’t lie.  The Cavs are an awful defensive basketball team.  There are 30 teams in the NBA.  Here is where the Cavs stack up.

  • 104.9 points per game, 26th in the league
  • Defensive rating of 112.1, 29th in the league (defensive rating is points given up per 100 possessions)
  • Point differential of -11.35 points per game, 30th in the NBA and a sign that they get blown out… a lot
  • Opponents are shooting 48.1% against the Cavs, 28th in the league
  • Opponents are shooting 43.3% from 3 point range, 30th in the NBA
  • Giving up 24.35 assists per game, 28th in the league
  • They are 3-27 when their opponent scores 100+ points.

All of that added together results in a record of 8-33.  Good enough for worst in the NBA.

On Monday, Byron Scott said that there would be a new found emphasis on the defensive side of things.  He had grown tired of watching the team get burned night after night and felt like changes had to be made.  Rather than bombard the team with new strategies and new methodologies of playing defense, Scott has decided to simplify things by having one set way of playing defense from here on out.  No more calling for various defensive sets dictated on the flow of the game on a position by position basis.  The defense will be more straight forward with a new found focus on maintaining assignments.  Failure to do so will result in a seat on the bench.

This of course raises a rather important question that I would really like to ask Byron Scott.

“Why has it taken you half of the season to realize defense was an issue and after 40 games are you just now addressing it?”

I’m not an expert, but based on the effort shown since the beginning of December, one would think this should have been addressed sooner.  Granted none of us sit in on practices, and it’s probably been addressed in some way, but why wait until now to make a full on effort in rehabbing the defense?  So far this year it’s been about learning the new Princeton offense and Scott’s system.  Was defense ignored?  I also read that the defensive system that was in place was much simpler than the one ran by Mike Brown.  This is virtually the same team as last year that was ranked near the top in defense.  What went wrong?

None of us will probably get an answer to that question.  As much as no one wants to admit it, it’s probably a combination of factors.  A lack of talent, a lack of hustle, and a lack of buying into Scott’s system as a whole.  However, what happened since November that could cause such a free fall?  Injuries have played a huge part in things, but that doesn’t explain going from 7-9 to 8-33.  That is a sign that this team is broken, quite possibly beyond repair even.

If anything, the current state of the Cavs needs to be torn apart and built back up.  Yes, they are doing their part by losing as much as possible to ensure the bes chances of the #1 pick in the draft, but where do they go from there?  Hopefully Chris Grant and Dan Gilbert have an answer to that question.  If not, it’s going to be a very long couple of years in Cleveland.  Until then we’ll sit and watch and wait in agony as the Cavs lose, and lose, and lose some more…

I think they just gave up another 3 pointer…


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