INDEPENDENCE (92.3 the Fan) – When the Cavaliers have won, four times in 10 attempts, it has taken 118.4 points per 100 possessions to get those results. That ranks second in the NBA.
In wins, the Cavaliers have still allowed 107.9 points per 100 possessions, second-worst in the NBA.
For a team devoid of a ‘sense of urgency,’ and the worst defense in the league for wins or losses at a 111.7 rating, the Cavaliers will have to score themselves out of trouble. It is what they had done in three seasons prior with the help of Kyrie Irving, but without Irving or his replacement Isaiah Thomas in the meantime, they have not been able to do so.
The front office has long surrounded LeBron James with long distance shooters like Irving, Thomas, Kevin Love, JR Smith, Kyle Korver and the like. The 2017-18 roster, while with less shooting at the moment, is still built with that approach.
The difference is that with the moving parts, the Cavaliers are currently 25th in the league with a 33.4% mark from deep.
“We have guys that can shoot the ball,” Love said at practice on Monday. “We just haven’t done that. It’s not for lack of getting our work in here or not getting shots up whenever that is, but that’s got to happen for us, that’s the only way it’s going to work.”
Korver has continued his career-spanning success with a 47.3 mark, while Love is down from his career average and Smith is shooting a paltry 27.9% from the field in general.
Smith’s percentage has dropped by a wide margin, but so have his attempts. The man who maintains he has never seen a look he did not like is attempting almost two fewer triples per game, including a look at a game-winner in Sunday’s two-point loss.
Head coach Tyronn Lue said he has urged Smith to get more shots up.
“Talked to him yesterday and today,” Lue said. “I don’t know if he is trying to make the right play for the team, try to penetrate and kick and drive, but we need him to take his shots, man.”
Adding to the fluid rotation through 10 games, Channing Frye has only contributed his marksmanship in 6.9 minutes per game, down 13 from last season.
“Channing hasn’t been in the rotation as much and Kevin is playing a new position that he isn’t as comfortable with quite yet,” Lue added. “We just have a different team.”
The team’s evolution explains plenty about why Smith’s attempts would be down and Love’s percentages have dropped, but it is not as if the Cavs are not getting open shots. The wine and gold have taken the 7th-highest percentage of open shots, a look with between 4-6 feet of distance between shooter and defender, but have made only 29.7% of those shots, 6th-worst.