Cavs Beat Celtics in Defensive Showcase: 3 Things We Learned


The Cleveland Cavaliers made easy work of the Boston Celtics last night. What did we learn from the Cavs win?

The Cleveland Cavaliers improved to 16-7 Tuesday night as they beat the Boston Celtics 89-77. Although there was some concern early on due to poor shooting, the Cavs pulled through behind their stingy defense. In the game before Kyrie Irving is scheduled to return (check link here for details) the Cavaliers showed that they may need some offensive support, but their defense is still working strong.

1. The Cavaliers Need to Shoot Better

The Cavs looked like the better team against Boston, Tuesday, but nevertheless they need to increase their shooting percentage. As a team, the Cavaliers only shot 46% from the field.

Understandably, this number isn’t too bad for a Cavaliers team who we know has more defensive power than offensive power. However, only scoring 89 points against a Boston Celtics team who looked clearly outmatched does not seem impressive for onlookers.

When players like LeBron James and Kevin Love miss a combined 19 shots and 7 three-pointers, then a big bulk of the offense is taken away. Yes, they both scored over 20 points (James 24, Love 20), but that was basically the entire offense for the Cavs. Besides them, only Mo Williams (10 points) scored over ten points in the entire game.

With Kyrie Irving coming back Thursday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Cavaliers shouldn’t stress about this shooting percentage just yet. But if this continues, they may need to make some moves for better shooters or work on getting their shooters better looks.

2. Iman Shumpert Looks Good 

Iman Shumpert returned to the Cavaliers roster last Friday against the Orlando Magic. In his two games back, he doesn’t look like he is to far behind the entire team or where he should be in productivity.

Playing only 13 minutes against the Celtics, Shumpert finished with six points on a pair of threes in his short time on the court. The Cavaliers really didn’t need Shumpert to do much work as it was clear they outmatched the Celtics early in the game.

This early in his return, though, Shumpert has shown a lot of promise coming off his injury. Playing 24 minutes against the Magic on Friday, Shumpert was able to score 14 points and knock down two threes.

His long range shooting certainly looks better and he seems as though he wants to be a much bigger presence on the offensive side of the ball. Combining for four threes in the last two games, playing little minutes in one, is certainly a good thing for the Cavaliers. It’s good to see that Shumpert can quickly become the impact player the Cavaliers were hoping he would be before his injury.

Unfortunately, his groin injury is now a concern.

3. The Cavs Defense Looks GOOD 

Scoring 77 points in an NBA basketball is something no one hopes to do. The Cavaliers however, made it clear that they were going to beat Boston on an impressive defensive effort, and that is what they did.

The Cavs held Boston to a 32% shooting percentage and didn’t allow a single player to reach 20 points. In a night where the offense was struggling on all aspects, the defense came in clutch for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Their most impressive mark was clearly the 40 defensive rebounds the Cavaliers had on the night, basically snagging anything that missed the basket.

The Cavs even shut down players like Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger, and Kelly Olynyk after these players all had impressive games against the Warriors. Keeping Olynyk and Sullinger to a combined seven rebounds (Sullinger: 5, Olynyk: 2) was a major factor in this defensive effort by basically shutting down two of their primary post players.

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All season fans have seen the intense defense that the Cavaliers have played with, and the Boston Celtics received every once of it. Going forward, the biggest question will be if Kyrie Irving can play as well on the defensive end as the rest of the team in order to keep this shutdown mentality strong.

The Cleveland Cavaliers play the Oklahoma City Thunder, Thursday December 17 at 8 p.m. as Kyrie Irving makes his season debut.

What did you learn last night from the Cavs victory?