Cavs’ defense has lead to success

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After last night’s 105-94 victory against the Clippers, everyone has come to the same conclusion. The Cavs are legit. On a 12 game win streak, the Cavs are one of the hottest teams in the NBA. And you can thank the defense for that.

Before the win streak, the Cavaliers ranked 26th in the NBA for scoring defense. It seemed as no one cared to play defense. Kyrie’s bad defensive habits were showing, and Kevin Love’s size was getting exposed by true centers.

Then LeBron came back from injury, the Cavs traded for J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov. The team came to life offensively and more importantly defensively. In the Cavs last 12 games, the Cavaliers have ranked in the top ten of defensive rating, dropping their rating from 110.6, to 100.1.

But their defensive presence hasn’t just shown on the stat sheets, its been very noticeable on the court. Kyrie has been playing solid, LeBron is lights out, and even Kevin Love has been good defensively.

But the big differences have come form Timofey Mozgov and J.R. Smith. Both have been great defensive improvements to the team. Mozgov has held two premiere centers of the league, DeAndre Jordan and Andre Drummond, under 15 points. That, while managing to keep up with them in rebounds.

J.R. Smith, though, is a pesky defender. He plays physical defense, roughing guys up and forcing bad shots. He held Jamal Crawford to 6-14 from the field last night, while 1-6 from three. He did the same against OKC, holding our buddy Dion Waiters to 5-15 and 2-7 from three.

If the Cavs can continue their recent success on defense, there are great things coming. With a stout defense and an even better offense, the Cavaliers will be a team to beat in the East.

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