Every Monday, Right Down Euclid will be taking a look back at the week that was for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cleveland Cavaliers Week in Review will focus on breaking down the past week’s games, looking at the starting lineup(s) by the numbers, finding the biggest takeaway from how the team played, analyzing Coach Mike Brown’s decisions and peeping the coming week’s opponents. Each review will come with an overall rating (out of 10.0) for the Cavaliers that week.
This past week Cavs fans had to endure the most miserable stretch of basketball for the Wine & Gold in this young season. It came in the form of a three-game losing streak—85.3 points per game on the offensive end—that featured two blowout losses on the road against Chicago and Minnesota and a frustrating defeat at home to the Bobcats. Without a day of rest between their contest with Charlotte and a road game in Washington D.C., the Cavs buckled down, overcame multiple deficits against the Wizards and found a way to end their rough patch in overtime behind Kyrie Irving’s 41 points. With another quick stop at home for a rematch with Washington to start off week four, let’s take a look at what happened with the Cavs in week 3 first.
Week 3 Games in Review:
Chicago Bulls 96, Cleveland Cavaliers 81 – Mon., Nov. 11 at United Center
- Record: 3-5, 0-5 away – This may have been the low point for the Cavaliers offense this season. The team turned the ball over 20 times in this contest, leading to 29 points for the Bulls. Tack on the fact that Chicago wasn’t missing when Cleveland sent them to the line—the Bulls finished 24-of-26 from the line—and Irving’s woes from the field (missed his first six shot attempts), and you have another fourth-quarter collapse to add to the Cavaliers’ repertoire over the past four seasons.
Minnesota Timberwolves 124, Cleveland Cavaliers 95 – Wed., Nov. 13 at Target Center
- Record: 3-6, 0-6 away – How can I say that the Chicago game was the low point when Cleveland was down by as many as 30+ to the Timberwolves at times in the second half? Because the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t take the court last Wednesday night prepared to take on the Timberwolves after surviving Minnesota almost overcoming a 20-plus-point deficit the week prior in Cleveland. Also, Tristan Thompson sure as hell can’t match up with a guy like Kevin Love. I don’t know if he’ll ever be able to protect the perimeter from a multi-talented threat like Love, which is why Cleveland needs Anthony Bennett to shed some pounds and get his confidence back. Tristan is logging more minutes than any other Cavalier thus far, and players like Kevin Love will continue to put up stat lines like 33/8/6 on Thompson and the Wine & Gold if this trend continues in Brown’s lineups. Luckily, his is a rare breed.
Charlotte Bobcats 86, Cleveland Cavaliers 80 – Fri., Nov. 15 at Quicken Loans Arena
- Record: 3-7, 3-1 home – After the third loss in a row, it became pretty evident that this offense is a dysfunctional mess. With a roster consisting of a new coaching staff and around 50 percent new players, it’s going to take some time for things to come more fluid for players on the offensive end. There is no excuse, though, for taking a 58-57 lead into the final 12 minutes and then surrendering almost 30 points to your opponents at home after 36 minutes of stellar D. The ugly combination of total turnovers (31) between the teams and horrible shooting (both teams shot at or around 40 percent from the field) made this a pretty unbearable matchup to watch (and cover). Kyrie shot 31.3 percent from the field in this contest, so he came back the next day and put on his best Mr. Fourth Quarter impersonation.
Cleveland Cavaliers 103, Washington Wizards 96 (OT) – Sat., Nov. 16 at Verizon Center
- Record: 4-7, 1-6 away – When the Cavaliers went down double digits against the Wizards in multiple instances last Saturday night, the team didn’t lie down on defense and abandon offensive form. Instead, the Cavaliers came together, assumed their roles and took the Wiz to overtime and finished them off by outscoring Washington by 12 points over the final 17 minutes. Kyrie tied his career-high with 41 points, including 18 in those 17 minutes. He averaged a point per minute against an improved Washington defense, which was nice to see in what was otherwise an abysmal week on the offensive end.
Starters by the Numbers:
Kyrie Irving – four games: 40.0 FG%, 36.4 3P%, 95.8 FT%, 23.8 PPG, 5.3 APG, 2.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG, 4.5 TPG
Dion Waiters – two games: 42.1 FG%, 40.0 3P%, 9.5 PPG, 2.0 APG, 2.0 RPG, 3.5 TPG
C.J. Miles – two games: 37.5 FG%, 33.3 3P%, 8.0 PPG, 2.5 RPG
Alonzo Gee – two games: 83.3 FG%, 6.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 1.5 APG,
Earl Clark – two games: 76.9 FG%, 85.7 3P%, 13.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 1.0 SPG, 1.5 BPG
Tristan Thompson – four games: 47.7 FG%, 66.7 FT%, 13.5 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 1.3 SPG
Andrew Bynum – two games: 38.5 FG%, 100.0 FT%, 8.5 PPG, 4.5 RPG, 1.5 BPG, 2.5 TPG
Anderson Varejao – two games: 53.8 FG%, 75.0 FT%, 8.5 PPG, 2.0 APG, 9.0 RPG
Biggest Takeaway – Cavaliers PnR Disappears:
As noted before, the Cavaliers offense went cold during Cleveland’s three-game skid. As a team, the Wine & Gold shot 41.1 percent from the field in their three losses. That’s right at their season total, which ranks them 29th in the NBA just above the Charlotte Bobcats and right below the Utah Jazz. Kyrie and Andy, the main components of the Cavaliers’ PnR, were practically shut down. Varejao lost his open shots on the perimeter and Irving was forcing long two-pointers over defenders when the offense stood still. I don’t know if this is a problem of the team being unconditioned or not, but these two can’t be the only players moving on the floor when Cleveland has the ball and its starting lineup is in the game. All parts need to recognize their job in the PnR, and the switching at small forward and Dion’s absence has not helped in solving the problems the starting unit is having on offense with chemistry.
Coach Brown’s RDE Press Conference:
In this section, RDE will be picking out the flaws in Mike Brown’s decisions over the past week and predicting what the Cavaliers’ head coach will key in on during practice and games in order to fix Cleveland’s current woes. This will be done in a four-quarter format.
First Quarter – With Dion missing time because of injury and Brown still experimenting with Clark and Gee at the three, Coach really needs to come to a decision on a consistent starting lineup so that incoming players can improve their chemistry with veteran Wine & Gold players.
Second Quarter – Miles struggled with his time as a starter this past week. After scoring in double-digits in five of his first nine games off the bench, C.J. couldn’t gain any offensive momentum against the Bobcats and didn’t see significant time because of it in the overtime victory over Washington. Let’s hope C.J.’s move back to the bench elicits a return of red-hot C.J.
Third Quarter – As much as a role player you may think Matthew Dellavedova to be in his limited playing time this season, I don’t want him seeing minutes in crucial parts of Cavalier games. There’s no reason to reach that far down the roster in the fourth quarter, and the overexcitement on defense is bound to lead to catastrophic play sometime or later. Let’s try building chemistry with players who will be seeing significant playing time this season.
Fourth Quarter – I don’t know what exactly went down in the players-only meeting, and neither do you. What I do know, and you probably assume, is that Kyrie’s teammates didn’t mention anything about being “sick of his act” like the fool who started the Kyrie-leaving-Cleveland rumors this past summer said:
If you don’t think that contentious Cavs players’ only meeting was a mutiny against Kyrie, you’re fooling yourself. Players sick of his act
— Anthony Lima (@AnthonyLimaFAN) November 16, 2013
As Kyrie showed in the Washington game, trust his shot whenever he trusts it.
Look Ahead to Week 4:
–Wed., Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Washington Wizards, Quicken Loans Arena
–Fri., Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers @ New Orleans Pelicans, New Orleans Arena
–Sat., Nov. 23 at 8:30 p.m. – Cleveland Cavaliers @ San Antonio Spurs, AT&T Center
Week 3 Rating:
3.4/10.0 – Three Ls and only one W against one of the lowliest teams in the East to show means that there weren’t a whole lot of positives to take away from the Cavaliers play on both sides of the ball this past week. They’ll only improve once they solidify complete roles, and that could take a while.