When the Cleveland Cavaliers were playing well before Isaiah Thomas came back, everyone seemed to believe they would be better even when he came back. Offensively, that has been absolutely correct. Defensively, however, it has been completely wrong. The Cleveland Cavaliers gave up 148 points to the Oklahoma City Thunder on Saturday Afternoon and that’s pathetic. The Cleveland Cavaliers did score 124 points, but if you can’t defend anybody, what good is it?
The Cavaliers are 3-6 since Thomas returned (didn’t play in Cleveland’s 88-102 loss to the Boston Celtics on January 4). In the eight games Thomas has played in, Cleveland has given up 110, 127 (2x), 133, 97, 118, 103, and now 148. Even though the Cavaliers have given up over 100 points in 25 games before he started to play, he has not been a downgrade regardless. Cleveland only had lost by 15 or more points four times before Thomas played. They have already lost by more than 15 points three times with him.
Thomas is too small to defend at an adequate level. Even though he is averaging 14.8 PPG 1.5 RPG and 3.5 APG so far this season, he just doesn’t seem like a good fit right now. Yes, he is coming back from injury but the stats aren’t favorable. When the offense is missing shots, opponents are getting out in transition, knowing the Cavaliers are horrible in transition defense.
When the Cavaliers acquired him in the offseason from the Boston Celtics, I honestly wasn’t thrilled. I think the Cavaliers miss Kyrie Irving’s presence even though he didn’t play great defense either (though much better than Thomas). Irving is averaging 1.2 SPG this season and he also averaged that last season. Thomas averaged 0.9 SPG last season is averaging 0.3 SPG this season. Thomas had one of the worst plus/minuses in the league last season and he’s on track to have another bad plus/minus again this season.
The Cleveland Cavaliers currently sit in third place in the eastern conference with a 27-18 record. They would face the Milwaukee Bucks (23-21) in the first round right now. Let us forget about a possible Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers rematch in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive season for right now. The Cavaliers may not even get past the second round if they continue to play defense like this. The Toronto Raptors (31-13) are currently the two seed and the Boston Celtics (34-12) are currently the one seed in the east. It is no accident the Celtics are so much better defensively this season without him.
Boston gave up 105.9 points per game in the NBA last season which was 15th in the NBA. Cleveland gave up 107.4 points per game last season which was 20th in the NBA. This season, Boston is ranked second in the NBA this season in points given up per game (97.9). Cleveland is ranked 25th in the NBA this season in points given up per game (108.6).