They say box scores don’t tell the whole story. Behind The Box Score is a new series where from time to time we will attempt to look behind the box score and tell more of the complete story of what happened in the game.
In Game 1, the Cavaliers played like a Mike Brown team. In game two, they played like a Byron Scott team. Of course, that’s not entirely fair to Byron Scott. If Coach Scott is going to take the blame for lackluster energy and defensive effort, then Coach Brown deserves the blame for the way the Cavaliers started this game.
The Cavs fell back on old bad defensive habits in the first quarter and dug themselves a hole early. Unlike the Nets game, when the Cavaliers were able to regroup and take a lead, the Cavaliers just never could seem to overtake the Bobcats. Every time the Cavs went on a run to close the gap, the Bobcats would quickly extend their lead.
The second half was a little better on the defensive end, and the Cavaliers’ bench was able to do some things to get the Cavs back in the game. Once again the game down to execution in the final two minutes, but in this game it was Bobcats who made the plays and got the stops to secure the win.
Now let’s get into the numbers…
– 57.1% – The Bobcats shot 57.1% from the field in the first quarter, led by Kemba Walker’s 9 points (3-5 shooting) and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist’s 8 points (3-5 shooting). After not allowing the Nets to score more than 26 points in any quarter on Wednesday night, the Cavaliers gave up 30 points in the first quarter to Charlotte. Some of it was the product of hot shooting, but more of it was the Cavaliers not communicating on defense and being slow on help rotations. The Cavs defense seemed to be on their heels, constantly scrambling to pick up guys off passes and screens, and far too often this lead to easy uncontested layups. The Bobcats has 12 points in the paint in the first quarter on 6 of 8 shooting. It was just an unacceptable way to come out on the road against a beatable team.
– 4 points – That’s the combined output of starters Anderson Varejao, Dion Waiters, and Earl Clark. I said this last game, and it held true this game as well. Something doesn’t seem right with Andy. Last year the Cavaliers found so much success running pick and rolls with Kyrie and Andy. We haven’t seen it hardly at all this season, and Andy looks lost on offense. Some of it could be the system, but it seems like Andy might still not be fully back mentally. He looks hesitant and seems to shy away from being involved in the offense. As for Dion, well, he was just 1-of-5 from the field and never tried to get to the hole or draw fouls to get his game going. There’s reason for concern that Dion and Kyrie just aren’t compatible on the floor together, and if that’s the case, it’s a serious problem. There’s still time for Dion to work on playing better off the ball, but so far it doesn’t look promising.
– 14:17 – The Cavaliers’ assist to turnover ratio in this game was 14:17. In the Nets game the Cavaliers had 24 assists to 15 turnovers with Kyrie leading the way with 9 assists. In this game Kyrie still had a respectable seven assists, but as a team, there was just too much isolation basketball and not enough team offense. In all of last season, only 23 teams won games in which they had 14 or fewer team assists. That’s 1.87% of all games. In other words, this kind of offense just isn’t going to cut it. The Cavaliers have to be more active off the ball.
– 21 and 11 – It wasn’t all bad. For the 2nd game in a row Tristan Thompson was arguably the best player on the floor for the Cavaliers. He finished this game with 21 points (6-of-11 from the floor and 9-of-10 from the FT line) and 11 rebounds, but he also had 5 fouls and four turnovers. There were some tough fouls called against Tristan, but the Bobcats deserve credit for being more active and attacking more than the Cavaliers. When you are the aggressor, you tend to get more calls. But regardless, Tristan was excellent again this game. He was the most active player on the floor and he continued to demonstrate his inside-outside game. It’s been extremely encouraging watching Tristan play so far this season.
– 43 points – The Cavaliers bench scored 43 points in this game. CJ Miles led all Cavaliers in scoring with 22 points and he also showed some pretty good defense as well. Jarrett Jack also had another nice game with 15 points, even though he did take a bad three pointer in the final minute which he badly airballed. But despite that shot, Jack and Miles were a big part of why the Cavaliers were even in this game. It’s really a shame that the bench has had to be the ones to spark the team in each of the first two games, but it’s also a nice luxury to have. Andrew Bynum also had five points in almost 11 minutes of action. His touch is definitely off and he still has plenty of rust he needs to wear off, but he continues to show flashes of why the Cavaliers should be excited about what he can bring to this team eventually if and when he gets fully healthy and in shape.
– 21 to 3 – The Cavaliers had 21 second chance points to just 3 for the Bobcats. The Cavaliers had an offensive rebounding edge of 11 to 5. Now, some of that was the hot shooting of the Bobcats. When you shoot 57% in a quarter and 45% for the game, your opportunities for second chance points are limited. But the Cavaliers still did a nice job capitalizing on their 11 offensive rebounds to turn them into points. And limiting the Bobcats to one-and-done possessions when they did happen to miss was part of the reason the Cavaliers were even in this game.
Hopefully the Cavaliers can use some of the energy they preserved in the first half of this game in tomorrow’s game against the Pacers. If they come out and play like this in Indianapolis, it’s going to be an ugly game and the Cavaliers will limp back to Cleveland with a 1-2 record and the season looking to be off to yet another perilous start. It’s important not to get to high on early season wins or too low on early season losses, but there are some things we’ve seen early this year that are cause for concern and things to keep an eye on as the month of November progresses.