Cavs ready to attack perimeter on offense and shut down paint on defense

Nance Jr. and Clarkson break down the transition into Coach Beilein's new O and Coach Bickerstaff's new D

Jake Kauffman
October 05, 2019 - 4:27 pm
Cleveland Cavaliers forward Larry Nance Jr. (22) blocks a shot by Milwaukee Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe (6) in the third quarter at Quicken Loans Arena.

© David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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The Cleveland Cavaliers are going through a rebuild, facelift, quick flip, however you’d like to describe longtime college coach John Beilein taking over the reins of the Cavaliers after a 19-63 season.

It hasn’t been the easiest transition for the Cavs getting to know the new terminology for their plays and coverages but Larry Nance Jr. is used to change with this 5th coach in 5 years.

“It’s night and day, some of the coverages that we called last year have different names now so we have to break different guys’ habits,” said Nance. “We’ve learned so many different terms that now we have to wash that all out and go with something new.”

Not everyone in the Cavaliers locker room is having a hard time with the new phrases as Nance says for once it’s the youngsters picking it up and waiting for the vets to catch up. 

Speaking of catching up it’ll up to opponents to catch up with the Wine and Gold guards this season as 5th overall pick Darius Garland joins an already explosive backcourt featuring last year’s first-rounder Collin Sexton, Brandon Knight, Matthew Delluvadova, and 6th Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson.

JC definitely expects to be sharing the floor with 2 or more of the other guards this season in an ever-changing offensive game.

“This sounds like a statement that everybody makes now but the NBA is positionless for real,” said Clarkson. “Me being on the floor, anyway I can impact the game is what I’m gonna do so I wouldn’t say I’m a 3, I’m a 2, on the floor, it’s just another space to be filled.”

Nance also expects to contribute on the perimeter as he’s played exclusively at the 4 so far this preseason.

“A little in the post, more so on the wing but the biggest difference between the 4 and the 5 in this offense is the freedom it gives you and I think with the play-making ability I found last year I think that best suits me,” said Junior.

With so much of the offense being focused on the perimeter, the Wine and Gold defense led by new assistant JB Bickerstaff will also look to lock down opponents on the outside.

“We know a lot of teams that hunt 3’s, a lot of teams that stay away from shooting a lot of mid-range jump shots and we got to keep guys out of the paint, I feel like that’s everybody’s focus,” said Clarkson.  “Everything that we’re doing defensively is really focused on us and our strengths.”

“I’m way more built to be switching and guarding guards on the perimeter than I am bigs in the post,” said Nance. “ I just think his defensive style is gonna be really good for us because it’s gonna be one of those cultures where if you don’t play defense, you don’t play period and I love that.”

The Wine and Gold, however, know their new defense will fall apart if they shut down the perimeter but give up easy buckets at the rim.

“Rim protection is something that we’ve been harping on, obviously having (John) Henson this year is nice. With his length, he’s a good shot-blocker, the rest of us have really been keying in on it. I’ve been more of a steals guy the majority of my career but I’m certainly starting to hone in on blocking shots.”

JC also loved having John Henson in the swing of things after the big man sat out all his games after being acquired by the Cavaliers with a wrist injury.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things that we picked up this year, John being healthy, him going up and contesting a lot of shots on drive-bys, us running guys off the 3-point line, forcing them to take tough 2’s.” 

Wine and Gold fans will get their first look at the Cavaliers attacking the perimeter on offense and shutting it down on defense Monday night at RocketMortage Fieldhouse against Buenos Aires Sanlorenzo.