The Cavaliers Might Just Be What We Thought: GOOD

The Cavaliers Might Just Be What We Thought: GOOD

Drew Thirion
3 years ago
3 min read
The Cavaliers might just be what we thought: GOOD

People are finally saying that the Cavs might be good, and surprisingly, those people aren’t me! After a phenomenal 3-2 road trip against the best of the west, the Cavs returned home and shocked the Portland Trailblazers 107-104. At 5-4, this doesn’t feel like an accident, the Cavs might be flat-out good. 

The big-man lineup which felt like a joke at first, is not just working, but causing great offensive teams actual issues. The switchability between our bigs and guards is unmatched in the NBA, and no team in the league has the size to man-up with three centers on defense. The team has energy and won’t be an easy out on any night. Here are my biggest surprises with ten percent of the regular season wrapped up. 

Jarret Allen is an All Star?

Before the season, fans were split on the re-signing of Jarret Allen. Most people wanted him back, but twenty-million a year was a lofty asking price. Now just nine games into the season, twenty-million feels like a bargain. Of players averaging 20 minutes a night, Allen is second in field goal percentage, and 14th in rebounding. Not only that, but over his last two outings, he’s scored a combined 48 points and snagged 33 rebounds!

These numbers aren’t just middle of the league, they’re All-Star numbers. If Allen can keep the Cavaliers winning, and have elite nights offensively and defensively, he can easily make a case for his first All-Star appearance. 

Sexland can defend

You hear all the time about the great defense from Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, and Isaac Okoro. These are fair complements as they have changed the culture in Cleveland; however, it’s time to give Sexland some love. 

Last season, the star pairing both had defensive ratings north of 117. This season, they’ve gotten those numbers down under 109, well lower than league average. For offensive-minded players, this is an insane step forward. 

Collin Sexton has always given phenomenal effort on the defensive side of things, but now that effort is finally developing into results. Maybe the defensive boost is the result of better bigs behind him, but his ability to hold elite players like Damian Lillard to 37% shooting is not something to scoff at.

JB Bickerstaff has this team buying in

When JB Bickerstaff took over for John Beilein, it felt like a breath of fresh air. Then last season happened and I was far less sold on the new head coach. The team was in turmoil, the group had no real identity, and he wasn’t willing to take any of the blame for this roster’s issues. Then everything changed when Evan Mobley came to town. 

With his unconventional game planning, Bickerstaff has changed the way the NBA could be played. He has a lot of modern NBA schemes running through his offense: player’s running high ball screens, popping to the three-point line, and lots of baseline cuts. The offense is improved, but it’s the defense which is catching people’s attention.

This defense isn’t something any team could do, you need to have freakishly athletic guys like Allen and Mobley, and guys willing to get out of their comfort zone like Lauri Markkanen. Bickerstaff plays a man defense with lots of switching and roatitions on the backside. When a guard is switched onto a big man, The extra center on the floor and rotates down and collapses on whoever has the ball. Cleveland also switches into a weird 3-2 defense, or that’s what Bickerstaff calls it.

I don’t see it that way, it looks more like a 2-1-2 zone to me, with Mobley in the center. The best comparison I’ve seen to this defense is the full court press, where the guards can pressure ball handlers, and they have a defender in the middle who can guard anywhere. Teams haven’t figured this defense out yet, and hopefully won’t figure it out this year. 

The Cavs are fun

I’ve said it since game one, this Cavs team is fun. Every single guy on the floor is playing for more then themselves, and it’s showing. Cleveland might not be a playoff team yet, but we’ve already seen a ton of progress, and there’s a lot of people to thank for that.

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