- Maddie Meyer/Getty
- The Cleveland Cavaliers have lost seven of their last ten games and have the worst defense in the league during that stretch.
- Asked about the team’s defense by a reporter, LeBron James snapped saying the reporter didn’t look like he could play defense, either.
- While the Cavs are not playing at peak effort, there are serious concerns about this year’s squad.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost for the seventh time in 10 games on Thursday, suffering a humiliating 133-99 loss to the Toronto Raptors.
As has been the case all year long, the Cavaliers defense was the major issue. The Cavs have now given up over 125 points in three straight games and have given up over 110 points in four of five games in January.
The Cavs are not defensive stalwarts and never will be with an aging and offensive-minded roster, but lately, their defense has been another level of bad.
After the game, James apparently was not interested in diagnosing the Cavs’ problems. Asked by The Buffalo News’ Jerry Sullivan about the Cavs’ three recent poor defensive showings, James said, “If we put you in the lineup, we’d probably give up even more, because you look like you couldn’t guard anybody.”
The Cavs rank 29th in defensive rating, giving up 109.5 points per 100 possessions, better only than the 13-28 Sacramento Kings.
Last year’s Cavs squad finished the season 22nd in defensive rating and generally proved that they could flip the proverbial switch in the postseason when they all cared. This year’s squad has had problems with defensive effort, one aspect that can certainly improve when their general interest in games is piqued.
Yet compare the Cavs to the Golden State Warriors, their biggest foes. The Warriors, too, are coming off their third-straight Finals, and though their roster is much better constructed to play defense, they still rank third in defensive rating, giving up 102.5 points per 100 possessions. Somehow, the Warriors find ways to care that the Cavs have not.
January is notoriously known as the doldrums of the NBA season, when teams have their eyes on the All-Star break and the trade deadline and the second half of the year. The Cavs can certainly ramp up the effort in the second half of the season and improve some of their defensive woes, but at the moment, the Cavs wouldn’t have much to lose on defense if they did play Sullivan.