The Cleveland Cavaliers’ efforts on defense are one reason why the squad currently sits in fourth place in the Eastern Conference.
Cleveland has ridden its defense to plenty of wins this season, and it was able to defeat the Miami Heat on the road on Wednesday.
Before the contest, Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra praised the Cavs for having a “legit” and “consistent” defense.
“It’s legit,” he said. “They’ve earned that number-one spot right now. It’s something that we’ve been trying to get to. They’ve probably been the most consistent defensive team all year long.”
The 52-year-old continued to commend the Cavs for their efforts on that side of the ball.
“They do a tremendous job protecting the paint, eliminating easy baskets at the rim,” he said. “They have length. They’re well coached.”
Miami shot 50.0 percent from the field on Wednesday, but it struggled from beyond the arc, only making eight of its 29 attempts. The team has struggled with 3-point shooting all season long, and those struggles continued against the Cavs.
This season, the Cavs are allowing opponents to score just 106.5 points per game. That ranks first in the league. Cleveland also ranks first in defensive rating at 109.4.
Players like Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley anchor that unit and consistently stifle opponents. Superstar guard Donovan Mitchell has also improved drastically on that end of the floor. He was previously seen as a negative asset on defense but has seemingly turned things around.
Being in Cleveland’s system has likely helped him in that regard.
Mobley and Allen rank first and second in the league in defensive win shares with 4.1 and 3.6, respectively. Mitchell isn’t too far behind as he’s tied for 11th place with 3.0.
Plenty of fans know about the sayings “offense wins games” and “defense wins championships.” Cavs fans are undoubtedly hoping that comes true this season.
Barring an unforeseen collapse, the Cavs will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2018, which is when LeBron James left the franchise for the second time.
The squad almost made it back there last season, but it faltered twice in the play-in tournament.
The offseason addition of Mitchell has elevated the team, and it is now seen as a contender. Its defense could easily help it close out teams in the postseason, which is when games get more intense.