For a team and coach that stressed Defense, Defense, Defense before the season started, the Cleveland Cavaliers (10-16) haven’t looked like a squad that has this written in their team mantra for the 2013-14 season in stone. A game that should have been a great opportunity for Cleveland to show that they can be the second-best team in the Central Division was instead another giant step back in the up-and-down roller coaster ride that has taken place over the first 26 games for the Wine & Gold. The Cavaliers never led the Chicago Bulls (10-16) over the full 48 minutes at the United Center, falling to the team that they outmuscled at the end of November by a score of 100-84. Ouch. And here’s your OMG stat for the game: Cleveland grabbed 36 rebounds (!!!!!!!), while Chicago nabbed 49.
Key Play to the Game
Closing out quarters has been a continuing problem for the Cavaliers this season, especially as of late. After Andrew Bynum’s huge third frame — that brought Cleveland to within seven points of the Bulls with 4:30 remaining until the start of the fourth quarter — the Cavaliers, again, decided to get lackadaisical on the perimeter. Two Tony Snell three-pointers and one from D.J. Augustine put the Wine & Gold in a 16-point hole heading into the final 12 minutes of play. In just his sixth game for the Bulls (third start), the former Indiana point guard roasted Irving and the Cleveland guards for 18 points and 10 assists, while shooting 58.3 percent from the field.
Wine & Gold MVP
Is Andrew Bynum upset with how inefficient the Cleveland guards are at getting the ball to their bigs down low? I think so. This was the first time all season long that we constantly saw Bynum roaming outside of the paint on offense attempting catch-and-shoot jumpers. This resulted in one of Andrew’s most brilliant performances as a Cavalier offensively, logging 27 minutes, 19 points and seven rebounds, while shooting 9 of 15 from the field. Yes, the Chicago bigs definitely had their way down low with Cleveland, but this wasn’t due to poor play by Bynum. Missed assignments by the wings (see Kyrie Irving and Alonzo Gee) and the fact that Anderson Varejao got absolutely destroyed down low was what resulted in Chicago netting triple digits for the first time since Dec. 5.
D.J. Augustin just defended that pick-and-roll really well. If Bynum 18-footers are what we end up with off a PNR the Cavs are screwed
— Trevor Mistlenottoe (@Tmagnotti) December 22, 2013
The Bulls just scored 33 points in the first quarter so the Cavs should probably just pack it in.
— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) December 22, 2013
This was a 4pt game less than 2 mins ago. #Cavs have 2 TOs, 1 missed shot on last 3 possessions & Bulls lead suddenly 54-41
— Jason Lloyd (@JasonLloydABJ) December 22, 2013
Cavs have Kyrie Irving on the team but hey, Jarrett Jack, go get that contested midrange J to end the half
— David Zavac (@DavidZavac) December 22, 2013
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) December 22, 2013
Coach Brown Breakdown
I recently gave Mike Brown a C grade in my Cleveland Cavaliers Quarterly Report, and Saturday night further backed my decision and my have dropped him down to a C- overall. Lots of Matthew Dellavedova and Alonzo Gee — who are offensive liabilities to put it quite frankly — especially when the team was attempting to make comebacks down double digits. Not having Dion Waiters off of the bench was detrimental on Saturday, even though with Chicago’s injuries there was no reason that one key cog of the Cavs offense missing should have caused this many failed and wasted possessions down the court. Dion has been the sole reason that more people aren’t complaining about Cleveland’s bench rotation (and aren’t noticing how dreadful it is), and his absence made the constipated Wine & Gold reserves — I’m looking at you, Jarrett Jack — more predictable on offense than they have looked all season long. If it wasn’t for the work of the frontcourt in the first quarter, this game could have been the ugliest road loss of the season taken into account that Chicago was taking a four-game losing streak into this matchup.
After hitting the road for one game, Cleveland will return home to Quicken Loans Arena for their first matchup against their Central Division foes the Detroit Pistons on Monday night. This three-game stretch against their division rivals looked more promising on paper before Friday, but after struggling against the Milwaukee Bucks — needing overtime to put down the injury-prone squad — and getting trounced on defense by one of the worst offensive teams in the league that was missing their two best scorers in Derrick Rose and Luol Deng, I have low expectations for this upcoming contest. The Wine & Gold could get destroyed on the boards again, and that just can’t happen if this team wants to contend on a game-by-game basis. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.