A lack of depth cost the Cleveland Cavaliers a win on Friday night.
The Cavaliers have been short on talent for much of the season, although that was partially rectified with the Memphis Grizzlies trade and with the signing of guard Shaun Livingston.
In the team’s 96 to 86 loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Friday night the Cavaliers were without All-Star Kyrie Irving and reliable back-up shooting guard Wayne Ellington. Irving will be out for several weeks and could miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury. Ellington was out with a sprained ankle, but he is not expected to miss a lot of time.
On the plus side, guard Daniel “Boobie” Gibson is finally healthy after missing a large number of games this year with different injuries and was able to play significant minutes.
With Irving and Ellington out, the Cavaliers only had 10 players ready to play, and one of them was forward Omri Casspi who only recently was cleared to play again after being out with an appendectomy. Casspi did not play against the Mavericks, and has not played much at all for the Wine and Gold for the past few months.
Being short on players, the Cavaliers played well but naturally slowed down late in the game. The Mavericks never led in the first half. They took the lead in the third quarter, though, and then went on a 17-4 run in the fourth quarter to win the game.
Part of the second half problems can be attributed to playing on the road against a decent team, but part of it also has to be attributed to being short on players. Irving’s absence pushes Livingston to the starting unit, which weakens the bench unit. Ellington’s absence also weakens the bench unit.
Without a strong bench unit, the Cavaliers struggle when the starters are out, and then the starters have to come back in early and they often tire at the end of the game. This was the story earlier in the season when the Cavaliers were losing a lot and were short on talent, and it looks like the same story now.
When the Cavaliers are healthy, they can be a pretty good team. They may not be healthy for the rest of this season, though, and it seems like it is about time for management to sign a free agent or an NBA D-League player to the roster to see if he can help.
The Cavaliers aren’t going to the playoffs, so it would be good to get a look at some young players to see if they can help the team in the future. And frankly, if they could just add a little depth and bring some more energy to the lineup at times, they could help the Cavaliers a great deal right now.