Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue has made no secret of his disappointment with the defensive performance of his team this season.
Lue has suggested changes will come if they don’t improve at guarding the three-pointer. The Cavaliers have allowed the third-worst three-point defense in the league, as teams have shot 4.9 percent better from long distance when facing them this season.
According to NBA.com, players are shooting 15 percent better from three-point range when facing Kevin Love. Opponents are currently shooting 6.7 percent better against Jae Crowder and 5.6 percent better against LeBron James.
All three players rank among the 10 worst marks in the league when looking at forwards who have defended at least 20 field goals so far this season.
Even though Lue has addressed concerns about their three-point defense, their transition defense is just as big of a problem.
According to NBA.com, the Cavaliers have the fourth-worst team defensive rating in the league.
Many of their struggles have come when the team plays in transition defense, where they have allowed the second-most opportunities in the league. Love spoke about the issue his team is facing (via FOX Sports Ohio):
“[Communication] is where it all starts. We’re not talking. We’re not getting back in transition D … It’s a lot of things that are easily correctable but it just takes effort.”
The team has allowed 1.22 points per transition play, which ranks bottom-10 in the NBA.
NBA analyst Kurt Helin recently wrote about this situation (via NBC Sports):
“Defense in the NBA starts with effort, and the Cavaliers have given almost none of it. This shows up mostly on defensive rotations, if a team can move the ball the Cavaliers fail to rotate and spot-up shooters are getting great looks. But it’s more than that, it’s guys slowly jogging back in transition defense (the not-so-speedy Knicks abused them here), or not helping in isolation situations.”
Love, Derrick Rose and Tristan Thompson have all looked particularly poor against fast-break offenses so far, which may continue to haunt them all season.
If the problem isn’t addressed soon, it could be a bigger issue than their poor three-point defense.