Cavaliers notebook: Players look to rediscover defensive domination
Rock solid defense became a staple of the Cavaliers the first two years under Head Coach Mike Brown.
A month and a half into Brown’s third season, the Cavs find themselves trying to rediscover that same defensive intensity.
“I’m just as much to blame about our defensive liability right now as our players,” Brown said before Saturday’s game with the 76ers. “That’s something that has to start with me and end with the players.”
The Cavs entered Saturday 21st in scoring defense (101.4) and 27th in defensive field goal percentage (.466). They were in the top third of the league in both stats the previous two seasons. Last year, when they made the NBA Finals, the Cavs were fifth in scoring defense (92.9) and eighth in defensive field goal percentage (.448).
Brown thinks a greater emphasis on improving the offense during training camp accounts from some of the defensive problems.
“A lot of times you’re team ... they are going to follow the lead that you give them,” Brown said. “And we focused a lot offensively with spacing, and driving and kicking, and all of that. As you can tell by some of our scores and our field goal percentage, we’ve done pretty good on that end of the floor. But what has suffered is the other end of the floor.”
For the second time in three games, Eric Snow started at point guard in place of Daniel Gibson, who had a wisdom tooth pulled Monday. Gibson missed Tuesday’s win over the Pacers and returned to play 32 minutes and score 12 points in Friday’s loss to the Nets.
With the Cavs getting healthier, Brown is facing tougher decisions in putting together his rotation. The logjam is greatest at shooting guard, where the Cavs have a variety of players on hand.
“With the injuries we’ve had, and the situation we’re in right now, I’m still in search mode trying to figure out a rotation and minutes and so on and so forth,” Brown said.
Swingman Devin Brown, a regular throughout the first 21 games, has not played in the last two games. Guard Shannon Brown went from starting four straight games to playing less than two minutes in New Jersey.
Guard Sasha Pavlovic was scoreless in 14 minutes Friday, attempting just two shots and grabbing only one rebound. Brown wants to see Pavlovic be more aggressive on offense, not settling for 3-pointers, while also making a stronger effort to rebound.
Reach Repository sports writer Chris Beaven at (330) 580-8345 or e-mail email@example.com