After starting the 2022-23 season out with an impressive 8-1 record, the Cleveland Cavaliers have dropped five straight games and have come back down to earth. All-Star guard Darius Garland believes there is one simple explanation as to why: The Cavs have taken a major step back on the defensive end.
Garland issued a simple message regarding the Cavs’ recent problems on defense.
#Cavs point guard Darius Garland was asked what has led to the team's current five-game losing streak:
"We stopped playing defense."
— Danny Cunningham (@RealDCunningham) November 18, 2022
When looking at the numbers, Garland’s understanding of what is going wrong for the Cavs is hard to deny.
Over the first nine games of the season, the Cavs allowed opponents to score an average of 103.9 points per game.
In the five most recent games, which have all resulted in losses, the Cavs have allowed an average of 118.8 points per game.
Moreover, opponents have hit an incredible 51.1 percent of their shots from the field and 43.8 percent of their shots from deep during the Cavs’ losing streak. In the first nine games of the season, opponents were hitting just 44.4 percent of their shots from the field and 33.7 percent of their 3-point attempts.
The good news is that while the early season level of success was clearly not sustainable, it does not appear as though the more recent woes are either.
During their losing streak, only one of the Cavs losses has been by double digits.
The truth is that one of the biggest reasons why the Cavs defense has struggled recently likely has to do with the fact that All-Star center Jarrett Allen has been out due to injury.
Allen has missed the last two contests for the Cavs and is currently listed as questionable. His eventual return should give his team a big boost.
Looking ahead, the Cavs will enjoy some very winnable games in the near future. The Cavs will take on the 4-12 Charlotte Hornets on Friday and then travel to South Florida to take on the 7-8 Miami Heat.
Both the Hornets and Heat are dealing with injuries to key players at the moment.
Hopefully, the Cavs will be able to get things right in the coming days and add some more games to the win column.