Despite winning their season opener, the Cleveland Cavaliers are off to a distressing 3-4 record over the first seven games.
With two back-to-backs in their first five games and a multitude of injuries, a slow start seemed to be destiny fulfilled this year. Additionally, shifting the roster composition to a 3-point centric playstyle would have its own bumps along the way. Georges Niang missed every long range attempt in his first three games with Cleveland, but he is slowly coming into form.
Over the past week, the Cavaliers split a two-game miniseries against the New York Knicks, lost their first In-Season Tournament game against the Indiana Pacers (putting the Cavaliers down 0-2 against the Pacers this season) and defeated their longstanding rival Golden State Warriors in what was the first dominant performance for this new-look Cavs team.
The Cavaliers are finally healthy
Sunday’s 115-104 home win for the Cavaliers was the first example of the dangerous team they can be. Though Isaac Okoro and Ty Jerome were unavailable, the Cavs maintained their strength with a healthy starting five and had phenomenal ball movement. The Cavaliers have become selfless, always choosing the extra pass on the perimeter rather than a rushed attempt. This had given the Cavs a versatile offense, forcing defenses to chase their young athletic roster around numerous screens and shifty passes.
The offensive changes have yet to stagnate Cleveland’s defense. A concern entering the season was the team’s prioritization of offense over defense after having the league’s best defense last season. Through seven games, the Cavaliers currently have a 109.9 defensive rating, the exact same as the season prior. This has placed Cleveland only 11th in defensive rating across the Association, but as time goes on the consistency in the Cavaliers’ defense may push them back into the top five once again.
As always, every week of action has certain players who step up and add another dynamic element that lead to the team’s successes. These three players gave the Cavaliers an extra boost that propelled them to a 2-2 record this week, in spite of the inconsistent health and growing pains on offense.