CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Cavaliers aren’t one of the NBA’s up-tempo teams, but they have had times where they’ve played fast well.
The first half of Wednesday’s 100-98 victory over Charlotte was one of those times. In the first half, the Cavs scored eight of their 13 fast-break points. Cedi Osman, who led the team in such points, thinks there needs to be an emphasis on creating more transition opportunities.
“I think we’re a really fast team, and we have to go for those more fast-break points,” Osman said. “Because sometimes in the halfcourt we can have problems because we’re playing slowly, but if we keep up the pace and try to make some more easier baskets and go to the rim for a fast break, it will be better for us.”
Osman is good at leaking out on the break and filling lanes in transition. Collin Sexton is arguably the fastest Cavalier dribbling from end to end. According to NBA.com stats, Sexton leads the Cavs in fast-break points (3.3). Osman and Kevin Porter Jr. are tied for second at 1.5.
While the Cavs don’t overflow with run-and-gun personnel, they should still be able to capitalize on opportunities. Kevin Love throws accurate outlet passes, but the Cavs haven’t often turned them into points. A big part of that is because Osman and Porter remain the only reliable transition options.
On this play below, Love finally got one of his passes to connect, as he hit a streaking Osman.
“It was a little bit behind him,” Love said of the pass. “I tried to kick it out as fast I can. That’s what I mean, he’s a big guy. … You’re going to have more success than you might otherwise.”
However, the Cavs just don’t run often. They rank 25th in pace (98.76), and 26th in fast-break points (11.1).
In Wednesday’s first half, though, they ran some of their best transition offense of the season, led by Osman’s four fast-break points.
“He was just in a flow, and what the biggest thing was we were getting stops so we could get into a fast break,” coach John Beilein said. “We were really good in offensive transition in the first half. Really good. In the second half we couldn’t get the stops that we were getting, especially in the fourth quarter, so they were attacking us with this press and we couldn’t get the ball to him as much.”
Beilein said the Hornets pressed the Cavs in the second half, pushing them out of their rhythm. As the offense slowed, they get into late shot clock situations, increasing the potential for turnovers.
At their quickest, the Cavaliers are far from a rapid-fire thrill show. But it’s fast enough to where the ball has energy and the offense is clicking. When the pace ebbed after halftime, the Cavs committed 17 of their 23 turnovers. Love said the Hornets forced the Cavs into poor ball-handling decisions, unable to move the ball side-to-side.
Cleveland will have a chance to continue showing improvement in that area against the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday. The Grizzlies are fifth in the NBA in both pace and fast-break points.