To make matters worse, the Cavs didn’t appear capable of putting up much of a fight in the series, succumbing to the lower-seeded Knicks in five games. New York seemed to want it more, attacking Cleveland with ferocious physicality.
Heading into a crucial offseason, the Cavs are expected to address that issue. However, an anonymous executive explained that the team has a more pressing need to attend to.
“That’s true,” the executive told Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com regarding the Knicks being the more physical squad. “But that’s not their biggest problem.”
The executive was asked what Cleveland’s issue truly is.
“The Cavs’ lack of shooting,” he said. “That allowed the Knicks to shut down the middle and take away the inside game.”
Over five games against the Knicks, the Cavs shot 32.7 percent from beyond the arc. Only Darius Garland (38.7 percent) and Caris LeVert (36.1 percent) were able to shoot at decent rates from 3-point range. The rest were horrendous from beyond the arc, with Donovan Mitchell’s 28.9 percent clip arguably being the most glaring.
Unfortunately for the team, the lack of reliable outside shooting was also a running theme during the regular season. The Cavs hit just 11.6 triples per contest, ranking 19th in the NBA. While players like Mitchell, Garland and LeVert did plenty of damage from that area in the regular season, Cleveland clearly needed more from others.
Kevin Love could have helped space the floor for the Cavs, but his time with the organization came to an end during the regular season. The veteran marksman then signed with the Miami Heat, where he has played a key role in stretching the floor for stars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo on their way to being two wins from the NBA Finals.
It remains to be seen how the Cavs organization will fill out the roster around its stars to improve its shooting. Hopefully, it can solve the problem without negatively impacting the squad’s defense, which allowed opponents to score just 106.9 points per game in the regular season and held the Knicks to 99.6 points per contest in the first round.