Taking the pulse of the Cavaliers

Published Dec. 21, 2010 12:06 a.m. EST

By Zac Jackson
FOX Sports Ohio
December 21, 2010

Checking in on the Cavaliers...

1. That 10-game losing streak was miserable. The win that snapped it last Saturday night was a case of a desperate team fighting for every possession -- a positive sign, all things considered -- meeting the golden opportunity: An overrated Knicks team coming off exhausting losses to the Celtics and Heat. The Cavaliers got back to business Monday night and again delivered a pretty good effort, but it wasn't nearly enough against a darn good Jazz team. The Jazz have one of the league's best point guards and a style of play that exposed the Cavs' two biggest weaknesses: Post play and defense. The Cavaliers simply aren't strong enough or deep enough to keep up with an elite team that means business, and Paul Millsap (among others) meant business Monday night. With Deron Williams, Millsap and Al Jefferson doing what they do, it's easy for the Raja Bells and C.J. Miles of the world to get wide-open look after wide-open look.

2. Put an asterisk by where I mention the Cavs' post weaknesses for this reason: Anderson Varejao has been great. The Cavaliers just don't have the right depth or the right complement(s) for him right now. Yes, it's easy to point out the flaws in Varejao's offensive game when the team is losing and he misses an eight-footer by five feet, but I must ask: Where, exactly, would the Cavaliers be without him? The popular thing for Cavs fans to do right now is dream up trade scenarios as a rebuild is clearly in order, but I laugh during our live chats here on FOXSportsOhio.com when people bring up trading Varejao. For Dwight Howard, I'd do it. Otherwise I'll pass on a move that might lead to giving up 130 points every night and instead try to beef up around Varejao. He's going to wear down at this pace, in a role that's very new, but he has three 15-rebound games in his last three, is playing great defense on quality post players and gives the Cavaliers maximum energy and effort -- the kind every player should be giving every night, yes, but also the kind that makes Varejao a much-needed leader and very valuable player.

3. The biggest reason the Cavaliers are 8-20 is clearly a lack of manpower. Byron Scott has already made more lineup and rotation changes than most teams do in two seasons. Guys are learning their new coach, new system and new roles, but there's just no such thing as the right mix with this roster. For a while, the Cavs were getting top-notch bench production but not much from the starters. Now, Scott is starting his best five and playing them each 32-40 minutes a night. The Utah game was a prime example: As soon he started subbing, a lead became a deficit. In, like, a minute. Scott joked before Monday's game that he wished he could play his starters all 48 minutes, but we don't know