Most of the discussion surrounding the Cavaliers has been about their defense. The Cavaliers were ranked 20th in points per game this year, allowing opponents to score 107.2 ppg and tied 16th in field goal percentage, allowing opponents to shoot 45 percent from the field.
Let’s look back at their past two seasons defensively. The Cavs 2014-15 season: 13th in opponents points per game (98.7) and tied 20th for opponent field goal percentage (45%). The Cavs 2015-16 season: 4th in opponent points per game (98.3) and 14th in field goal percentage (44%).
Even if they put out their best defensive lineup (which I’m not sure the Cavs even know), it won’t be nearly as effective as their lineup last year or the year before that. We all underestimated, including the Cavaliers, the effect of not re-signing Timofey Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova.
Mozgov served as a good rim protector and someone you could count on to consistently alter shots in the paint. Even though his 2015-16 season wasn’t as strong as his 2014-15 season, he still served as a solid defensive anchor. Dellavedova brought toughness, shooting, and was a sure thing to agitate the opposing team’s point guard on a nightly basis.
Adding players like Channing Frye, Kyle Korver, and Deron Williams to the roster this season didn’t help the team defensively but simply bulked up what was already an offensive powerhouse.
The smartest defensive decision the Cavaliers made in game 1 was to double team Paul George on the last possession when the Pacers had an opportunity to win the game. Eventually, that made the Pacers settle for a missed jump-shot by C.J. Miles. It’ll be interesting to see if coach Tyronn Lue inserts Iman Shumpert back into the rotation who didn’t play in game 1 and also the Cavaliers defensive approach to game 2.