Cavaliers hit season low point in giving up 148 points in loss to Thunder
Is this rock bottom for the Cavaliers because it sure feels like it is
Everybody knew the Cavaliers defense was bad going into Sunday's matchup against the Thunder, but even they managed to stun everyone watching with just how many points they were able to give up to an Oklahoma City team that, at best, has been league average offensively.
Cleveland's 148 points given up not only tied the franchise record, but it tied the NBA's season high as a whole. On Dec. 31, 2017 the Lakers gave up 148 points in a double-overtime thriller to the Rockets. 148 is an absurd amount of points, but it's not as stunning when two fast paced teams go into double overtime.
The Thunder are the 20th fastest team in the NBA. Cleveland is a little faster at 14th. Speed is not the name of the game for either of these teams and that's completely ignoring that this Sunday blowout didn't go to overtime. It finished in regulation and was never that close to begin with. The Cavaliers defense is a problem that isn't going to get better with effort or time. It is something that needs to be fixed.
Four players beat the Cavs
The Thunder offense has had high and low points all season, but never have they looked as good as Saturday. Four players scored 20-plus points, led by Paul George with 36. Their main trio of Carmelo Anthony, Russell Westbrook, and George combined for 88 points. Steven Adams added on 25 to give four players a combined 113. Cleveland couldn't stop any of them.
In the past moments like this could be excused as a lackadaisical contender going through the motions, but the Cavaliers defense has never been quite this bad. They've spent the majority of the season as one of the three worst teams in the NBA on that end. The only team they're above are the lowly Kings. Since Christmas they are the worst defensive team in the NBA. This is supposed to be a contender, bu they have the NBA's worst defense.
This is why it's not a surprise to see them in DeAndre Jordan and George Hill. They already have a decent defensive big man in Tristan Thompson, but he can't do everything. Some effort across the roster would help, but the worst defense in the NBA isn't something that just effort covers up.connected to like
LeBron sat before reaching 30K
LeBron James could have easily reached his 30,000-point milestone in this game. He only needed seven points in the fourth quarter to do it, but the Cavs were at too much of a deficit to justify keeping him in.
Not counting the Cavs, 12 teams have scored 124 points or more in a game this season and lost. The Cavs' 24-point deficit is the largest of any of them with only the Grizzlies 141-128 loss to the Warriors also reaching double digits. When teams score this much they just don't get blown out. Which is why, midway through the fourth with the game clearly out of hand, it was honestly surprising to see James sit down.
James sitting down with only seven points to reach 30,000 honestly means nothing. He's going to reach that milestone eventually so it being delayed doesn't mean anything, but it's a good example of just how low of a point the Cavs reached against OKC. They couldn't even give their star player a milestone at home, on a day they scored 124 points, because the defense was that much of a train wreck.
Where to go from here
The miracle question for the Cavs. If this isn't rock bottom then they can't be that far away from it. They've lost six of eight and those two wins were close ones over a dreadful Magic team. They can't hold on to leads when they get them and there doesn't seem to be an easy fix from this point on.
This, usually, is when the Cavs finally bounce into what they were supposed to do. The Cavs need to hit rock bottom to start taking the regular season seriously, but where does this group go? Trades feel like an easy answer, but is adding Jordan and Hill going to be enough? A full on roster overhaul could be in store for their future, but then they have to adjust new pieces on the fly and roll into the playoffs with whatever comes back.
One thing that's for certain is they really can't risk giving up the 2018 Brooklyn Nets pick at this point. Let's say they go full on roster overhaul and bring in some veteran defenders to raise their defense a bit. They certainly can't do worse than where they're at right now, but is a bunch of mid-season fixes going to be enough to win a title? That seems doubtful.
Cleveland management can make the choice to go all in with this sinking ship, and in some ways that's commendable, but it just doesn't seem possible to bring the talent together to be a true contender right now. LeBron is still there, and that will always give them a percentage of a chance, but that's all this team can be. A percentage of a chance. We'll just have to see what it looks like when they escape rock bottom. One thing's for sure. It's gonna look different than it does right now.
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