Tracking the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defensive play through seven games

J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)
J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. Photo by Elsa/Getty Images /

Defensive Rebounding Percentage 

The Cavaliers are 26th in the NBA in this department, recovering 69.1 percent of opponent missed shots, and as a result, have suffered 106 second-chance points. Handing over at least 15 points nightly to another squad is spirit-crushing behavior. Boxing out is necessary, and more than one missed assignment should have any member yanked momentarily to the bench.

Last season, the Cavaliers were 20th in this category. The group must hover over the league average, which is securing around 71 percent, but preferably for it to strive to be elite here. It would prepare them for the playoffs, where defense and rebounding are most important. Eventually, jumpers stop falling and a close game can be seized by getting nastier on the boards and creating contact.

Allen’s return will help Cleveland clean up the glass, but in two outings that he’s been next to Mobley, the unit has yielded 37 second-chance points. This can be fixed with a solid film room session where nobody takes anything personally and upping the volume on box-out drills at practice.

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This is an area that head coach J.B. Bickerstaff cannot compromise. Unless a team has the greatness of LeBron James or the excessive riches of the Kevin Durant-led Warriors to offset poor rebounding production, deep playoff trips aren’t happening.