The Cleveland Cavaliers have now lost five of their last six games, and their most recent loss to the New York Knicks was probably the worst of them. In case you weren’t able to tune in, the Cavaliers were handed a beatdown to the tune of 30-plus points.
It’s no surprise anymore that the Knicks can put up points in a hurry on any given night. Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith are going to get their shots up as long as they’re in the game. The main problem with Cleveland’s performance wasn’t really on the defensive end — it seemed to be offensive.
It’s almost customary that Kyrie Irving will be able to go out and have a pretty nice night scoring the basketball, and this game was no exception. He also got some backup off of the bench in the form of Dion Waiters, but the bulk of the scoring load was shared between those two. The only other Cavalier to break into double-digit scoring was Luol Deng, and even he had a mediocre night from the field. Most of the other players on the team might as well have not boarded the bus to Madison Square Garden at all.
The Cavaliers certainly don’t help themselves win with lackluster efforts in the paint from their big men. This is almost certainly where the team will miss center Anderson Varejao while he recovers from injury. He’s the kind of player that has no problem getting dirty in the paint and can create some easy buckets at the rim for his team.
Until Varejao returns, other players are going to need to make the most of the minutes coach Mike Brown gives them. Specifically, the big players that will need to step their game up in the paint are center Tyler Zeller, power forward Tristan Thompson and rookie small forward Anthony Bennett. If they can’t do that, don’t expect this team to climb out the cellar and challenge too many teams in the near future.