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Cleveland Cavaliers’ defensive lapses weighing on coach Byron Scott and players

Updated: March 29, 2013
Byron Scott, Michael Smith

INDEPENDENCE: Confused and frustrated following a season full of blown coverages and missed defensive assignments, Cavaliers coach Byron Scott stood up at the end of Thursday’s prolonged film session and asked his players if the coaches aren’t doing a good job of explaining things or if the players simply aren’t getting it.

It’s a strange question to ask after 70 games, and either way the answer isn’t encouraging. With three weeks remaining in a five-month season, it’s hardly the right time for startling revelations, but Scott said the consensus was the players just aren’t doing their part.

“They said, ‘We’ve got to do it. We understand our coverages. We go through it every single day. We have to do a better job of doing it,’ ” Scott said.

The breakdowns at the end of Wednesday’s loss to the Boston Celtics yet again illustrate the ongoing problems within the franchise. As a former player, Scott puts the responsibility on the players to know their assignments and execute them. Following Wednesday’s loss, he said the coaches often do a better job of communicating than the players.

“Players and coaches are frustrated with losing,” Luke Walton said. “Stuff that we’re doing has happened to us multiple times. Coaches are frustrated why we’re not as players making the changes and doing things differently to stop letting that happen. As players, it’s tough to keep losing these games.”

For all the instances when the Cavs’ youth has been blamed for breakdowns offensively and defensively, it was two veterans — Walton and Wayne Ellington — who blew the defensive assignment on the final play Wednesday that gave the Celtics’ Jeff Green a clear path to the basket.

The idea was to force Green into taking a contested jumper, and at the very least, make him a left-handed driver. Yet as the final two seconds ticked off the clock, Walton was in the wrong position on the floor and Ellington had his back turned to the play as Green stormed to the basket with his dominant right hand.

Asked if it’s more disheartening when it’s the veterans blowing the assignments, Scott never hesitated….

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