No. 5: Will Cavs buy into Mike Brown’s defense-first philosophy?
We all know Mike Brown had his shortcomings on the offensive end of the court last time he was in Cleveland. But there is no denying the man is a defensive genius.
It’s that simple.
So, the Cavs have to be better defensively, right? You would hope so. Last season, the Cavs left a lot (A LOT) to be desired on the defensive end of the floor. For as great as Kyrie Irving is with the ball in his hands, he can be that bad guarding it. If this team is going to play defense, it starts with Irving bending his knees and sliding those feet.
Brown has one big advantage this season that Byron Scott only had for a brief time last year; a hopefully healthy Anderson Varejao.
During the preseason, it has been a treat to watch the Cavs actually guard a high screen and roll correctly, and Varejao is a huge part of that. He has always been a great defender and could be integral on defense since he may know most of Brown’s schemes.
Last season, the Cavs ranked in the bottom half of pretty much every defensive category. They were dead last in opponent field goal percentage, giving up almost 50 percent a game. I’m no genius, but that stinks. Brown should be able to bring that number down, but it won’t be easy.
There is no stopper on the team; nobody you can tell, “Hey, go lockdown their top dog”. Some people thought maybe Alonzo Gee could be that guy, but he is just too inconsistent on both ends of the court. Carrick Felix has all the tools and wants to play defense, but he could be Canton-bound to start the year. If this team is going to be as improved as everyone believes they will, it starts with defense.
The potential is there; if anyone can coach this team up defensively, it’s Mike Brown. As for whether it happens, that comes down to the guys wearing the Wine and Gold.
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