CJ McCollum calls Cavs one of worst defensive teams he has ever faced
The Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t exactly been a defensive juggernaut this season, but one star player thinks that they are historically bad on that end.
Speaking during an episode of his “Pull Up” podcast on Tuesday, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum put the Cavs’ defensive woes in perspective.
“Cleveland is one of the worst defensive teams I’ve ever played against, honestly,” he said in a segment on the Eastern Conference Finals. “I think it’s just the spacing, they have a lot of different players on their roster throughout the season, so terminology’s not the same, the continuity isn’t always there.
“Think about how many players they’ve had on their roster the last three or four years,” McCollum continued. “They’re literally in and out, new guys every year. So it’s hard to be on a string and be united as one when you have all that uncertainty: ‘Hey, if things don’t go well, I might get shipped out.’ So I think that’s one of the reasons why their defense has been up and down. But then when it’s time to lock in and focus on one team, they’re a lot better.”
Indeed, the Cavs finished the regular season ranked 29th in the NBA in defensive rating (behind only the league-worst Phoenix Suns) and are by far the worst in that metric among the remaining teams this postseason. McCollum meanwhile averaged 24.0 points per game (up from his season-average of 21.0) in two games against Cleveland during the season.
As the former Most Improved Player hinted at though, the Cavs do a good job of turning up the heat defensively against one opponent in the playoffs, and that has helped put them within two wins of the fourth straight Finals berth. Still, sequences like this do help illustrate McCollum’s greater point.
H/T NBA Reddit