Chris Paul leads the way as LeBron James and company struggle to defend
If you play great defense regardless of who you are up against with, you have a high chance of winning the game. Unfortunately for the Cleveland Cavaliers, playing defense has been one of their weaknesses this season as the Cavs rank 26th in the league in terms of their opponents' points.
Against the Houston Rockets of Chris Paul and James Harden, the Cavs have simply no answer as they failed to defend miserably- en route to a 120-88 win by the Rockets in a game wherein James Harden, this season's leading MVP candidate was limited to 16 points. But it didn't matter as Chris Paul and company got more contributions from the rest of the Rockets and it helped them that Cleveland wasn't or wasn't trying to defend, at all.
Just how disastrous Cleveland was against Houston this time around that made pundits think that the Cavs aren't really capable of competing against the best teams in the league? Below are the numbers:
Ugly Offense All Around
The Cavs is a team that should be able to score easily as they are loaded with scorers led by LeBron James. However, their inability to score at a consistent rate is one of the many things that doomed them early on. Who were the Cavs' leading scorers against the Rockets, by the way?
- JR Smith- 12 points on 4 for 12 shooting
- Isaiah Thomas- 12 points on 5 for 13 shooting
- LeBron James- 11 points on 3 for 10 shooting
- Dwayne Wade- 10 points on 5 for 11 shooting
- Derrick Rose- 10 points on 3 for 11 shooting
As a team, the Cavs only shot 39% from the field including 26% from the three-point line. Is this the Cleveland team that is supposed to beat the Golden State Warriors in the Finals, should both teams meet again?
Cavs Never Won a Single Quarter
The Cavs were down 32-20 at the end of the first quarter and yet they allowed Houston to score 33, 32 and 23 in the next three quarters respectively. Mind you, folks, the Rockets outscored the Cavaliers in all of the 4 quarters which explained the reason why they won. The Cavs' lack of defensive strength allowed the Rockets to score 120 points and shoot 47% from the field including 37% from deep.
Chris Paul Toyed the Cavs
While Isaiah Thomas is visibly struggling to play the point guard position in Cleveland, Chris Paul is doing just great throughout the season as he had 22 points against the Cavs. He made 8 of his 14 attempts including 6 of 9 from three. He also had 8 rebounds, 11 assists, and no turnovers in 27 minutes.
You know what's scary about Houston right now? James Harden only shot 5 for 16 including a 1 for 11 outing from downtown and yet the Rockets won against an apparent super team in the East.
As for the Cavs, missing Kevin Love isn't a valid excuse for not being able to play suffocating defense. If they continue to play this way, then they shouldn't expect a deep run into the playoffs.