After a a 10 game losing-streak, the Cleveland Cavaliers are finally back to winning some games. The Cavs may have discovered their key to success after back-to-back wins against the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets. The common occurrence in the victories was bench production.
Cleveland Snaps Losing-Streak
Frankly, Cleveland’s 10 game losing streak was dreadful. They struggled in almost every category possible. They struggled mightily on defense, giving up over 115 points in every game. In addition, the Cavs did not eclipse 115 points once on their losing streak.
After the losing-streak, Cleveland’s offense is averaging only 104.3 points per game which is the 2nd worst mark in the NBA. The Cavaliers’ defense also dropped to 24th in the NBA in defensive efficiency. The past month has not been kind to the Cavs in anyway.
The Cavs can finally take a deep breath and celebrate some wins. Cleveland won a close one against the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. The following day, the Cavaliers also defeated the Houston Rockets in a dominate fashion. Through these wins, it has come apparent what the key is to Cleveland’s success. The bench production increased greatly when compared to games on the losing-streak.
The Starting Lineup
For most of the season, Cleveland seemed to have some pretty good depth with good bench production. However, this became almost nonexistent on the 10 game losing-streak. This was due to a number of reasons.
First off, injuries required JB Bickerstaff to alter the lineups. After Larry Nance Jr. went down, Bickerstaff experimented with a few different starting lineups. Without Nance and Kevin Love, the power forward position has been tricky for Cleveland. At first Bickerstaff went with Taurean Prince and Andre Drummond in the frontcourt. Then he tried out Jarrett Allen alongside Drummond in the frontcourt. None of these starting lineups worked well.
With trade rumors surrounding Drummond, the Cavs decided to bench Drummond until he is traded. This took away Cleveland’s starting center and called for more adjusting to the starting lineup. Allen has played outstanding for the Cavs so far, so plugging him in at center may have actually been an improvement. Bickerstaff mostly went with Cedi Osman in the starting lineup during the losing streak. This simply did not work since Osman and Isaac Okoro are not the greatest rebounders, and they do not have the height to go against most power forwards.
On Tuesday against the Hawks, Bickerstaff went with Dean Wade in the starting lineup. This seemed to be questionable at first due to Wade’s scarce playing time, but it actually seems to be the right move so far. Wade is 6-foot-9 and typically played the power forward position in college. With this move, it also had Osman coming off the bench. The current lineup with Wade starting has done wonders for Cleveland’s bench.
Role Players Are The Key
Players like Dylan Windler, Lamar Stevens and Osman have stepped up for the Cavs. Windler was on absolute fire from three versus the Hawks and Rockets. Windler has been 9-9 from three the past two games, and had 15 points against the Hawks and 13 points against the Rockets.
Osman was in a slump when he was in the starting lineup. After being moved to the bench, Osman has been a lot more efficient. He posted a huge plus/minus for the Cavs the past two games. Against the Hawks with Osman on the floor Cleveland was +10. Then versus the Rockets, the Cavs were +16 with Osman on the floor.
The rookie Stevens has seen his minutes go up the past two games, and he has taken advantage of the opportunity. He had 5 points against the Rockets and was extremely productive Tuesday against the Hawks. Stevens was 4-5 with 8 points against the Hawks. The Cavaliers and Hawks game was a nail-bitter, and Stevens sealed the Cavs’ win with a game-winning dunk.
Get you a rookie like @LamarStevens11!
With 4.1 seconds remaining, he scored the game-winning basket, a dunk that gave The Land a 112-111 lead.
He finished the night with eight points (4-5 FG), four rebounds, two assists and two steals in 16 minutes off the bench. pic.twitter.com/ifw2RWV5l7
— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) February 24, 2021
Role players for Cleveland have stepped up big time, and this could be the key going forward. If players like Windler, Osman and Stevens can continue to be solid off the bench, the Cavs may be able to string some more wins together.
All stats courtesy of ESPN and Team Rankings.
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