After winning eight of their first nine games and looking borderline scary, the Cleveland Cavaliers have fallen into a four-game losing streak.
Three of those losses came on a West Coast road trip that finished in disappointing fashion.
But even returning to The Land didn’t fix the Cavs’ issues, as they lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves, a team that’s under .500, on Sunday.
There are two things that have specifically been huge culprits for Cleveland during its slide, and it will need to rectify these two problems in order to get back on track and establish itself as an Eastern Conference power.
Overall, the Cavs rank fourth in defensive rating, so one may think all is good on that end of the floor, but in fact, that stat is misleading.
During their four-game losing streak, they’ve given up 119 points to the Los Angeles Clippers, 127 to the Sacramento Kings, and 129 to Minnesota.
Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has built this team’s culture on the defensive end, so it’s possible this is just a temporary setback and that merely a few adjustments need to be made.
On the other hand, there could be some inherent weaknesses, as this writer pointed out on a Twitter thread.
The Warriors picked on Darius Garland's defense heavily last night, forcing Cleveland to make late-game scheme changes as the game slipped away. Ultimately, it was the key to victory against an excellent Cavaliers squad, so let's take a look at how they did it:
— Charlie Cummings (A Knives Out Mystery) (@klaytheist11) November 12, 2022
2. Bench Production
Cleveland has one of the best starting fives in the NBA, but its bench looks rather weak offensively right now.
Kevin Love is having another nice season so far, and he’s shooting very well from 3-point range, but overall, the team lacks anyone who can come in and give it some offensive punch.
Therefore, it is not surprising to see that the Cavs rank just 25th in bench points at 30.2 per game.
The great teams have a strong bench or at least one that can adequately support a top-heavy starting lineup, and the Cavs simply aren’t there yet at this stage of their development.