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Five Problems Cavs Need to Address Heading Into Round 2 vs. Raptors

Five Problems Cavs Need to Address Heading Into Round 2 vs. Raptors

To the victors of four consecutive games over the Indiana Pacers go the spoils of extended time off before the start of the Eastern Conference semifinals against Toronto Raptors.

But the Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t a team without areas of concern which need to be addressed before one or more of those areas become major hindrances later in the playoffs.

An oft-repeated observation over the past several days is that the Cavs’ average four-point margin of victory over the Pacers tied for the smallest margin in a four-game sweep in NBA history. That alone is not a big deal. In the Cavs’ first-round matchup a year ago against the eighth-seeded Detroit Pistons as the first seed, they barely squeaked by in Game 1 (106-101) and the series-clinching Game 4 (100-98). Those narrow outcomes were long forgotten two months later.

And as LeBron James pointed out after disposing of the Pacers, the ability to execute, get stops and make plays when needed will outweigh a lot of transgressions.

Still, the Cavs’ hopes of a repeat championship would be enhanced by eliminating or reducing the frequency of the following shortcomings:

1. Trouble Maintaining Leads

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers Game 2 Recap: Big 3 Goes Off in Game 2 Victory

On the surface, it sounds strange to take issue with a team which outscored the Pacers 35-23 in the final 12 minutes of Game 3 to cap the largest playoff comeback the league has seen. But as has been the case with alarming regularity in April, the Cavs look as if they would rather be staring at a double-digit deficit than working with a double-digit lead.

They were up by 12 points at home in the series opener late in the third quarter and again three minutes into the fourth quarter before the Pacers clawed their way back and even briefly went ahead. A 96-80 advantage through three quarters of Game 2 turned into only a two-possession lead with more than two minutes remaining. And a 19-4 run by Indiana over an eight-minute stretch Sunday required James to bail out the Cavs with a three-point shot down the stretch.

The only two assists in the fourth quarter of their most recent game were courtesy of Channing Frye, and both of them came in the first 2:03. That’s nearly 10 minutes without an assist for a team which had a 26-4 record during the regular season when it dished out at least 25 assists a game.

Could there still be a hangover from when the Cavs fell in overtime at Atlanta after inexplicably being outscored 44-18 in the fourth quarter?

Next: Kevin Love’s Lack of Touches

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