Takeaway No. 2: The Cavs were unable to overcome the lack of depth
Over the course of the regular season against New York, and for the first couple games of this series, when the group of Garland, Mitchell, Mobley and Allen were on the court together, the Cavs were winning those minutes. The problem was if those guys weren’t great, the team had no margin for error. The Cavaliers probably had six guys (Garland, Mitchell, Mobley, Allen, Caris LeVert and arguably Isaac Okoro) that they felt good about in the rotation and after that you didn’t really have any.
The Wine and Gold had a number of issues in this regard. If Allen or Mobley got in any kind of foul trouble, the Cavs are in deep trouble considering they are already thin on depth and they don’t really have a third big they can rely on.
In this series guys like Ricky Rubio, who still hasn’t looked like himself coming off a major injury, was unplayable, and Dean Wade was unplayable, and again the Cavs didn’t have a legitimate backup big. Danny Green was a terrific three-and-D guy earlier in his career on championship teams, but he’s well past his prime, and Cedi Osman is hard to rely on playing 20 minutes per night in playoff games.
When you have only six guys you can count on it’s almost impossible to function, and sometimes in the playoffs bench play gets overstated. In the playoffs rotations get shorter and most teams only have eight at-most nine-player rotations, as your stars and starters play much more minutes in the regular season, however, when you’ve only got six players you can trust it’s hard to be successful.
The Cavs need to find the right fifth guy with the group of Garland, Mitchell, Mobley and Allen (assuming he returns), along with the bench, which one should expect to look a bit different going into next season.