Cavs must improve, move past tough weekend

Published Nov. 21, 2010 3:01 p.m. ET

By Zac Jackson
FOX Sports Ohio
November 21, 2010

1. It's not shocking that the Cavaliers had an 0-2 weekend in road games against teams with a combined record of 20-2. It's not really even shocking that the Cavaliers rallied late to make it close against New Orleans, then got totally blown out in San Antonio. For Byron Scott and his team, though, there is disappointment because the defense struggled both nights -- especially Saturday night. The Cavaliers want to play fast, but they're not going to win games against elite teams played in the low 100's. And without good defense, they're not going to have opportunities to run. They're shooting the 3 well, but they're giving up wide-open looks at the other end, too. Way too many of them.

2. In San Antonio, the Spurs scored 36 points in the second quarter. The Cavaliers scored 35 in the second half. Let that soak in. Scott will, and he'll carry it to the practice floor Monday. He said he talked to his team about making quality opponents earn what they get, then grimaced as the Spurs continually got easy buckets. He said at halftime he let his players choose how they wanted to defend the Spurs' pick-and-roll game...then said they didn't execute what they'd chosen. He said that was the first time he'd given his players the choice..."and it might be the last, too."

3. Scott said he will "continue to harp on the things we've got to do better at the defensive end because a lot of them are little things." He said the defensive issues, right now, are probably 50 percent little things in regard to execution and 50 percent communication. That's the kind of thing that drives a coach crazy. Now, it's early. And the Cavaliers are playing lots of different lineups with Mo Williams just getting back, Joey Graham joining the rotation and a bench that keeps outscoring the starting lineup. You need bench scoring. When your bench is outscoring your starting lineup every night, though, you've got some tweaking to do. "We've got 70 games to go," Scott said. And I think Scott will find guys who will listen and buy in.

4. Positives from the weekend? Yeah, that's tough. Williams is back, and he played pretty well in San Antonio. The Cavaliers are making shots, and they were better on the boards. J.J. Hickson had 13 rebounds in two games, and that's improvement. He's hearing it from Scott and all the coaches. They want to see small strides and consistency from Hickson in lots of areas. They did make 14 3-pointers in two nights, and they didn't quit in New Orleans. They just got picked apart by the Spurs, though, who had 66 points at halftime and 116 for the night -- just 12 via the fast break. It was methodical execution by a team that specializes in such things.

5. What's ahead? More tough opponents. And a brutal schedule that includes four games in five nights this week, with the Cavaliers likely being the underdog in all four. Defense will be the emphasis, and the Cavaliers have to feel like they need a win Tuesday night at Indiana and can get one if Williams plays well; he missed the loss to the Pacers at home eight days ago. The Cavaliers need production out of the small forward spot, improved defense and chances to run. That starts with getting stops and rebounds. It's only 12 games in, but the Cavaliers are facing a key stretch. That One Really Big Game is only 10 days away.