Someone is Missing the “Kid”

The Cavaliers miss Kyrie Irving. They miss the scorer playmaker who could do things off the dribble. They miss his arrogance in the fourth quarter mixed in with his three point shot making. They miss his slicing and dicing talent and how young he is. They miss him not going up against NY point Jarrett Jack and not smoking Jack into submission. They miss the whole Kyrie Irving package, dagger threes, playmaking, switching hands and finishing. Their defense without him is just as bad as their defense was with them and their offense is a mess.

The Cavs have lost three games in a row and four out of five. In the midst of their losing streak, Dwyane Wade self reported to the bench. LeBron is doing LeBron James things but this league is about great players being supported by role players. The role players are the problem. And there is a hole where there used to be a scoring star.

Call Kyrie Irving the “kid” all you want. But pencil in the “kid” for 21 points a game.

Let’s talk numbers.

The Cavs are 26th in offensive rebounding, meaning no second chance points. The Cavs are 28th in steals. A lack of quickness on the perimeter and zero fast break opportunities has them ranking 25th in fast breaks. They are 24th in field goal defense, 29th in 3-point defense. They allow the 25th most points. They allow more points than the Lakers and 76ers. Their pace is mediocre, their defensive rating is garbage and their offensive rating is nothing special.

Dwyane Wade benched himself for J.R. Smith but Smith has been worse. He’s shooting 26% and 17.1% from three. It makes you want Wade back in the starting lineup. At least Wade is in the 40% club.

Who Should Start? Points FG% 3-Point% Offensive Rating Defensive Rating
Dwyane Wade 8.2 43.1% 33.3% 91 112
J.R. Smith 5.4 26.4% 17.1% 77 114

But defense is the main problem.  Over the weekend, New Orleans had 33 assists and shot 43.3% from three in their Cavs 22 point beat down .  They took 13 more shots than the Cavs. Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins had 59 points and 26 rebounds. Jrue Holiday  had 29 points and shot 70.6%. So did E’Twaun Moore. He shot 76.9% and had 24 points.

The game before, the Nets shot 37% from three and took 12 more shots than the Cavs. Point guard filling in for an injured Jeremy Lin, Spencer Dinwiddie (who?), had 22 points on 53.8% shooting. He shot 50% from three.

Last night, the Knicks took 89 shots to the Cavs 81. They shot 46% from three, the worst three point shooting team in the league. Kristaps Porzingis had 32 points. Tim Hardaway Jr. had 34 points on 57% shooting and 50% from three. Courtney Lee had 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Knicks aren’t good and yet they had a 19 point lead.  But when Tristan Thompson has 0 rebounds and 1 point a punking is coming.

More numbers that make you appreciate what Kyrie brought to the table as an offensive presence. The Cavs are one of the worst first quarter scoring teams. Their third quarter scoring is just as bad. They are always playing catch up. They have to use so much energy and everyone thinks LeBron is the elixir but LeBron can’t do it all by himself and he is old too.

Through 7 games Points Scored 3-Pointers Made Offensive Rebounds Assists
2016-17 780 105 76 158
2017-18 733 73 58 147

In less than a week, both New York teams have beaten the Cavs, both teams who will be in the lottery. The ones who like to pretend this doesn’t matter say the Cavs are playing down to their competition. But without a scoring point guard who can shoulder the offense and give LeBron a rest, this isn’t the same Cavaliers offense. They don’t feel right, cohesive, together. They look like a bunch of parts told to play together and trust LeBron James.

LeBron has been through too much in his career to micromanage this very slow start but what is glaring are the details the Cavs are not paying attention to, the missed assignments, the wide open shots clanking the rim and no one rebounding misses. Put it another way. The Knicks haven’t beat the Cavs in three years, not since LeBron James returned from Miami. Orlando had lost 19 games in a row to Cleveland.

The cliches are being trotted out. It is still early. It is not November yet. The Cavs are banged up. The East is weak so the Cavs aren’t in any danger. Just wait. This always happens.

Not really. Not losing 4 out of the last 5.

This time last year the Cavs were 6-1. They had their six game winning streak to start the season snapped by the Hawks losing by 4 points. In 5 out of the 7 games they had at least 11 offensive rebounds. In 1 out of the 7 games this year they had one 11+ offensive rebounding game.

Similar to this year, last year the Cavs played the Knicks and Orlando to start the season. They beat the Knicks by 29 points. The Knicks shot 36.8%. They only scored 88 points. The Cavs played Orlando in game three beating them by 5. The Magic only scored 99 points and shot 28.6% from three.

In those two games, Kyrie Irving scored 49 points and had a +20. Without him this season, his replacement(s) Derrick Rose/Jose Calderon scored 17 points and had a -22 against the Knicks and Magic.

Yep. They miss the “kid”.  They miss him bad.

 

photo via llananba