The Cleveland Cavaliers boast five former or current NBA All-Stars in LeBron James, Kevin Love, Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, and Dwyane Wade. Saturday, during a nationally televised game, the Cavs played All-Star Game level defense in the midst of a 148-124 curb stomping from the Oklahoma City Thunder. Reflecting on the latest in a series of poor performances by his team, James said the squad could very well suffer the same fate if the playoffs began next weekend.
“Playoffs? We can’t even start thinking about that, not the way we’re playing right now,” James told ESPN’s Dave McMenamin during a postgame interview. “We could easily get bounced early in the playoffs if they started next weekend. Haven’t even began thinking about the postseason.”
As the Cavs work both Thomas and center Tristan Thompson back into the rotation from injury, they’ve left spot-up shooters wide open, failed to communicate on basic rotations, and conceded layups and dunks from point-blank range.
During his postgame media availability session, James joked that he wasn’t even sure any of his teams have surrendered 148 points in a video game. You can catch those remarks in the video above at the 10-second mark.
That’s Paul George, just hanging out up there alone. pic.twitter.com/L6kZXXVqoH— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 21, 2018
Again, JR comes over to help on the catch. They do this so much, schematically, and it’s a disaster. pic.twitter.com/WvOs04g3PB— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 21, 2018
While various basketball analysts pointed out the Cavs' defensive miscues via Twitter, the numbers also show the Cavs are pretty much a sieve on the defensive end as well. According to stats available via NBA.com, the Cavaliers have a defensive rating of 109.8. That qualifies as the second-worst in the league, only besting the perennially trash Sacramento Kings.
The Cavs have repeatedly shown an ability to switch gears come playoff time and at least play average defense. But as the NBA trade deadline draws near, the question of if the team needs to make a move to bring in capable defenders looms large.