The Cavaliers are not the same defensive unit without Evan Mobley

Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers
Isaac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Injuries are going to happen in an NBA season, and the Cleveland Cavaliers know that all too well. Nearly every player that one would deem as a rotational regular has missed time so far this season, really aside from Max Strus and Georges Niang. Tristan Thompson hasn't been injured per se, and as a meaningful depth piece, he'd be debatable in that aspect.

Regardless, in terms of the injury front in that past handful of games, the Cavaliers have not Evan Mobley in the fold. He's one of their best and most valuable players, and hopefully, he is back soon.

Mobley's missed Cleveland's last three games at the Miami Heat, Orlando and Boston Celtics because of knee soreness. It's not been necessarily a serious concern, and the Cavaliers are always going to exercise caution.

Either way, though it's hardly shocking, it's been all too clear the Cavs have missed Mobley a great deal, given all he does for them, particularly defensively.

The Cavaliers are not the same unit without Mobley in there, especially defensively.

Cleveland has been 1-2 on this road trip thus far, with them concluding that on Thursday again in Boston. The Cavaliers have had chances to pull out Ws in their last two outings, on the plus side, and there's things to build off from those, but they've just fallen short.

Without Mobley's defensive presence, there have been some difficulties for the Cavaliers in containing penetration, some stretches when it comes to rebounding, and not having his length and reputation has opened up more of the floor.

Against Orlando, while the defensive effort was generally a good one, and Cleveland's deep shooting woes did them in, the Magic did outscore the Cavaliers 56-36 in the paint. When the Magic were getting downhill, even still without Markelle Fultz and Wendell Carter Jr., that's when they were having success. That also factored into Jarrett Allen fouling out in just 15 minutes, and being mostly a nonfactor.

Conversely, Cleveland and Boston were tied with 34 points in the paint apiece in Tuesday's game. Granted, Boston registering 26 free throw attempts, compared to Cleveland's nine, was difficult to explain, and that was hard to watch, as Cleveland's creators and interior players were putting pressure on Boston.

Still even with that being the case, whether it led to free throws or baskets from early attacks at times in transition, the Celtics were able to generate enough meaningful ball-swings and kickouts to get going from three from forcing help. That resulted in numerous open looks for players such as Derrick White and Jrue Holiday, and in some instances, bench contributors. Altogether, the Celtics ended out going 18-of-44 (40.9 percent) from three.

In fairness, the Cavaliers zoning up at points in the Miami win did pay dividends, but against Boston, that worked against the Cavs. And although the lineups dictated the Cavaliers going to that in some instances, when Mobley is not on the floor, whether or not Jarrett Allen is, the Cavaliers are not going to have one of their best defensive playmakers, and a cerebrial player at that.

While Mobley has not missed a bunch of contests, and the opponents have definitely been tough, there have been a number of stretches where Mobley's absence has played into there being some Cavaliers' defensive breakdowns, or they've just not held up. Whether that's resulted in baskets at the rim, free throws from a lack of shot altering, or sprayouts from overhelping, one of the recent takeaways from Cleveland's games has been how much Mobley means to their defense.

This isn't to suggest Mobley doesn't make a difference on the other end, and he can help generate good looks for others, too, but it's very evident that not having the ultimate eraser in Mobley can lead to opponents sparking bigger games, and in turn, taking control of games.

Hopefully, Evan is back soon enough for the Cavs. In the mean time, they have to just stay the course, and be a bit quicker on their defensive rotations off-ball. And obviously, some of their role players making timely shots down the stretch wouldn't hurt.

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All things considered, the Cavaliers have done alright for the most part on this road trip. It's just seemed that at certain, high-leverage instances and when they've needed a spark, not having an All-World defender and uber-versatile one in Mobley has played some into their demise in some spurts.