On Sunday Trae Young put on a show that Cavaliers fans did not find entertaining, as they spilled out of the arena before the final buzzer. The Atlanta Hawks rookie dropped 35 points, becoming the first rookie to score at least 35 points in his first season since the Warriors Stephen Curry. While the former fifth overall pick is talented, his success exposed the extent of the Cavaliers struggles on defense.
“We have to simplify things. We have to have our one and two coverages, stick to those out of the gate and just kind of bring everyone along with what we are trying to do,” veteran Kevin Love said. “We have seen defenses in the past in the four years that I have been here where we’ve made things a little bit too complicated for ourselves. So we went back to our basic coverages and built it out from there. And I think that’s what you are going to see us doing here.”
On Sunday the Cavaliers led by as much as 15 in the first quarter, but fell apart in the final three quarters, losing their home opener 133-111 and falling to 0-3 on the season. After two tough road losses to start the season, head coach Tyronn Lue anticipated a challenging game at the Q.
Lue said, “Playing against two tough opponents on the road and fighting and scratching and clawing and trying to stay in those two games and coming back and playing the way we did in that first home game, really I kind of expected it. I really did. I did not think we would play well. We got off to a great start. Guys played well. And we just got to be able to sustain it.”
Now the focus is on growth. From an X’s and O’s standpoint, they are trying to figure out how to limit the defensive breakdowns and improve transition defense. However, also important is their ability to build chemistry and play as a cohesive unit.
“More than anything just having our brothers’ backs, helping each other on second and third efforts and if we do that we are going to be a lot better off,” Love said.
Communication on a team consisting of quieter personalities will be vital in helping this team improve their defensive play and overall performance.
“When you are switching you have to call the switches out so the man can’t get behind and gets dunks and layups and easy shots,” Lue said. “We talk about it every day — ELC — early, loud and continuous, so we just have to keep getting better at it.”
Veterans and coaches understand their roles might need to evolve and change from years past when they had the leadership of LeBron James on the floor.
“We got a young group of guys playing, so just try to keep the communication level up. By nature we have some guys who are quiet guys, so they need to speak up, speak louder and call out the coverages. So I do to be a little more vocal this year,” Lue said.
While the team sits winless on the season, they insist they are not discouraged by their play but instead remain encouraged by their potential.
Love said, “I think we have shown some bright spots. We are just going to have to put it together. Being a young team that is going to take a lot of practice, a lot of teaching points, a lot of film work and we are going to have game experience with these young guys and the veterans bringing our guys along.
The Cavaliers host the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday night at the Q.