Beilein & Cavs’ next step: improved help on defense

John Henson, Dylan Windler close to return; Kevin Love (back) day-to-day vs Magic

Mitch Spinell
November 26, 2019 - 2:45 pm
Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie (8) shoots between Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) and forward Cedi Osman (16)

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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According to Cavaliers head coach John Beilein at the team’s practice on Tuesday, the next step in improving the Cleveland defense is based around the players helping each other.

“We’re not real long, so our gaps have to be really good, because some teams are longer, so they don’t have to be far over the gap. Their arms will do it,” said Beilein, who watched his players allow 60 points in the paint in their 108-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Monday night, which was capped off by Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie’s go-ahead jumper with 1.9 seconds left.

Beilein also added, “What we’re doing with individual defense is okay, but I think when somebody like [Dinwiddie] sees a man in front of him, he should see four other Cavalier shirts in the paint, showing them that he’s attacking a team, he’s not just attacking in isolation.”

Despite Beilein’s emphasis on the need for better help, the rookie coach added there was positivity to take away from Monday’s loss, which was the Cavs’ seventh in their last eight games.

“So much good could come out of last night’s game, except for the end result, so we have to work on those things. We’ve got some good trends going on right now.”

One of those good trends may be the return of players like center John Henson and rookie guard Dylan Windler, who were both active in Tuesday’s practice.

Henson, whose only game played this season was back on Oct. 26 versus Indiana, has been nursing a strained right hamstring, but Beilein was hopeful that Henson could return to action on Wednesday, when the Cavs host the Orlando Magic.

“We’re hopeful he’ll be able to play tomorrow. That’s our hope.”

As for Windler, Beilein was not as hopeful that the rookie could make his debut against the Magic, but he was optimistic in getting closer to Windler returning:

“I think when you have an injury like his…another injury would shut him down, but having him come out of this….he’s had no soreness for the last couple of days.”

The Cavs would need a big presence like Henson for Wednesday if they won't have Kevin Love, who did not practice on Tuesday, opting for therapy in his recovery from back soreness, which has forced the forward to miss Cleveland's last two games.

Love’s status for Wednesday’s game versus Orlando is currently unknown.