Cavs Causing Defensive Chaos


Defense wins championships and the Cleveland Cavaliers have plenty of it.

Now complemented with the offensive help from All-Star shooting guard Donovan Mitchell, they have catapulted themselves to a complete title contender this season. Today, however, we are going to be breaking down Cleveland’s lockdown defense by some intriguing numbers.

Because boy is there a lot of them.

To start, they’ve managed to maintain the number one defense in the league with a defensive rating of 107.0. A main culprit of their astounding 20-11 record, fourth best in the NBA.

Not just keeping their name atop of the standings, the Cavs have also splattered their name all across other defensive metrics on Headlined by forward duo Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, it seems they do it all. Limiting points in the paint, limiting second-chance points, and limiting field-goal attempts in general is only part of it.

Let’s take a dive into what exactly they have going on in The Land of Defense.

Front-Court Ferociousness

Consistent play from the aforementioned frontcourt pairing of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen has been the staple to the Cavs’ success all year. Cleveland is one of three teams (Atlanta, Brooklyn) with two players that are top 18 in the league in blocks per game. Allen (1.3) and Mobley (1.3) have been vital in protecting the rim this season.

Allen has showcases his incredible strength and patience around the rim as shown in this clip against the Detroit Pistons.

Which gives Mobley the freedom to showcase his ability to chase down guards on the perimeter, like in this clip against the Golden State Warriors.

Everyone wishes they had at least one of these two guys. Let me take you through some more numbers to show how dominant the lengthy duo is underneath.

The Cavs are tied for first in allowing the fewest amount of points in the paint (45.5 per game). Allen and Mobley have mastered the art of timing. But even if they slip up and allow the opposition an offensive rebound, no worries. They also rank No. 1 in opponent second-chance points at only 10.9 per game.

Unreal numbers teams can only dream of seeing— but the Cavs are living it.

Other Causes of Chaos

With how dominant and reliant those two guys have been, this allows for more chaotic aggressiveness from the rest of the team.

Team Defense

The Cavs have managed to allow the third-fewest field-goal attempts (83.9 per game) and lead the league in fewest amount of opponent field goals made (38.2 per game). They also do this holding teams to only 45.5 FG% and 34.6 3PT%. Sixth and T-ninth best in the league, respectfully.

Combining all those numbers together leaves Cleveland No. 1 in opponents points per game. Just in case you needed more to top it off.

Lineup Work

Let’s keep going.

With lineups filtered to at least 250 possessions (that’s a lot), the lineup of Garland, Mitchell, LeVert, Mobley and Allen allow only 101.5 points per possession. Second best in all of the league behind only the Bucks’ closing lineup featuring DPOY candidate Brook Lopez and past DPOY winner Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Keeping up with the best of them despite having some deficiencies out there in Garland and Mitchell is a win no matter what, especially when it comes playoff time and Milwaukee is your first- or second-round matchup.

Tenacious on Turnovers

If you haven’t grasped it yet, chaos is this team’s middle name. Curating an opponent turnover rate of 15.2% puts them at 12th in the league. Middle of the road isn’t something to be complaining about. Especially considering this same team is, of course, top six in limiting opponent points off turnovers, allowing only 16 per game.

On nights they’re not taking care of the ball, you better be— because they’re not going to let you capitalize on it regardless.

Continuing Contention

Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff has been impressive cultivating lineups that breed success so far this year. He has done a great job implementing Donovan Mitchell into the lineup so seamlessly, which is paying massive dividends for their record.

With Mitchell seemingly on an MVP-level path and destruction, the only thing in the way that can get in this teams way is themselves. More-efficient play from All-Star-caliber PG Darius Garland might be the key to unlocking more potential of this already-high-ceiling team. Shooting is their only kryptonite so far, but there is more than enough time to smooth out the edges.

Thrusting them fully into the top tier of teams ready to compete for a title.

About Cameron Prichard

Twitter: @CameronPNBA

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