SALT LAKE CITY: FInal thoughts from the Cavs' fourth loss on this road trip, which dropped them to 3-14 against the West...
^ Everyone keeps referecing the Oklahoma City model for this Cavs’ rebuild, but I kind of like the Utah Jazz model.
^ The Jazz have stockpiled bigs and now can roll out four pretty good ones at opponents. Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are a load, then third-year man Derrick Favors and second-year center Enes Kanter are growing into their roles as reserves. It’s a nifty pipeline, since Favors will likely step in and start next year if Millsap departs (as expected) as a free agent.
^ With Anderson Varejao hurt, the Cavs only have two bigs they can rely on with Tyler Zeller and Tristan Thompson. I know the small forward position hasn’t been addressed yet, but I’d suspect the Cavs target a big with their top pick in this draft. Teams can never have enough bigs, and watching a team like the Jazz roll quality bigs in and out who can play with their back to the basket reinforces one of the Cavs’ biggest weaknesses.
^ Kanter was particularly impressive and is starting to grow into the type of player the Jazz expected when they selected him third overall in 2011, one spot before the Cavs chose Tristan Thompson. Kanter is finally back in basketball shape after missing more than a year because of NCAA eligibility issues. “He is just big inside. He plays within who he is,” Jazz coach Tyron Corbin said. “He’s getting the ball in his spots. He’s getting a lot more patient and waiting to see what he has in one on one opportunities and he is finishing the play. And he is actually getting quicker in that once he goes to finish and not as much banging. He has shown a lot of growth in that area.”
^ I didn’t like Byron Scott’s benching of Dion Waiters because it didn’t make sense, but it certainly has gotten Waiters’ attention. He was again aggressive in attacking the basket tonight and it paid off in a big way with two power dunks and 12 trips to the line. This is Waiters’ game. This is the way he needs to play every night. He only took three 3-pointers and the majority of his shots were in the paint.
^ Waiters had a miserable shooting night at Portland, when he was 1 of 9 for 5 points. But he had 33 at Sacramento and 28 tonight. He averaged 19.8 points on this trip and shot 44 percent. Not bad.
^ The Cavs have two major problems right now, and they’re sort of related: Their third-quarter starts have been horrific and their defense remains atrocious. Three of the five opponents on this trip shot 50 percent or better. That’s completely unacceptable. Opponents are shooting 47 percent against the Cavs, the worst mark in the league. They’re also allowing the sixth-most points of anyone. Until those numbers start to come down, the losses will continue to pile up.