After a 1-3 start and a report of LeBron and Kyrie “exchanging words” in the locker room after the Trail Blazers game on Tuesday, we are getting a little uneasy about this team. We’re not panicking! We’re just…uneasy. We assumed that the Cavs would take time to gel, but we were hoping we wouldn’t lose games to the Knicks, Blazers, and Jazz in the first week. We knew that the Cavs would struggle on defense, but we thought our offense would be able to carry us. After a small sample size of games, we realize that we have problems on both ends of the floor. It is not time to panic. This is an 82 game season that is played over 6 months. The Cavs have time to figure things out, just hopefully we can figure them out sooner rather than later.
The Cavs recorded a franchise low 6 assists as a team in their loss against the Jazz on Wednesday night. Worse, Kyrie Irving had zero assists. It is hard to imagine that a team with this many offensive weapons cannot share the ball and generate more assists.
First let’s see if team assists even matter. You usually don’t hear stats about how many assists a team has. The Spurs have the led the league in assists the last 2 seasons with around 25 assists a game. Teams like the Thunder finish more in the middle of the league in assists with about 20 to 21 assists a game. The Spurs share the basketball equally and the ball seems to be passed more than it is dribbled at times. The Thunder on the other hand are a team where the majority of its scoring comes from its top two players, Westbrook and Durant. Team total assists isn’t the end all offensive stat, but it is a good indicator how well a team is sharing the ball. The way the Cavs are constructed, we should resemble the Thunder’s offense more than the Spurs. Despite this, the Cavs are currently last in the league in assists with 16 assists a game. The fact we are last in the league shows that we have some serious problems in the half court offense. While most of the blame falls on LeBron and Kyrie, the truth is it’s the whole team’s fault. There are a couple reasons why the Cavs have struggled in this area.
At the end of the day it is LeBron and Kyrie’s job to get people involved in the offense. Both players are at their best when they are attacking the basket and being aggressive. They did an excellent job of getting to the free throw line yesterday. They can stay aggressive while getting each other and other teammates involved. Often times Kyrie and LeBron drove the key without the intent of finding an open shooter or each other Wednesday against the Jazz. Overall, our half court offense looks like it is unprepared. Kyrie and LeBron need to find a way to work together when they’re on the floor. They seem to be disjointed and playing their own individual games. It’s almost like they take bets on who can take more isolation shots. Until these two can find a way to play with each other in the half court, we’ll continue to look like this.
Another reason why we look disjointed on the offensive end is that our role players aren’t producing. Wednesday night LeBron, Love, and Irving combined for 79 of the team’s 100 points. There were only 21 points scored by the other 5 players that played. Miller and Marion both played over 20 minutes and did not score a single point! That’s unacceptable. When role players aren’t able to produce your offense is going to struggle. Part of that falls on LeBron and Kyrie for not getting these players involved and part of it falls on role players like Miller and Marion who do not take advantage of the open shots. Any good basketball team needs contributions from all 5 players on the floor to be successful, not just 3.
The Cavs must get better at getting other players involved with the offense while still being aggressive and getting to the foul line. We’ve experienced both extremes these last two games. It’s on LeBron and Kyrie to make this happen.