Dribbles: Defense has been name of game during Cavs’ successful stretch

A few more random dribbles ahead of the Cavaliers’ visit to the Orlando Magic on Monday. Tipoff is 7 p.m.Jarrett Allen

1. The Cavs (25-15) have won seven straight, and as I wrote in the previous dribbles, it’s largely been the result of their decision to bend their knees, shuffle their feet and really get after it defensively.

2. It’s actually been a lot of fun to watch. Fans and media tend to focus on what teams do at the offensive end, and I get it. We all want to see who scores what. But defense, if played the right way, can be equally intriguing.

3. For instance, growing up, I was a big fan of Joe Jakubick, the only player in Akron history to lead the NCAA in scoring. As a kid, I’d go to Akron Zips games for one reason — to see how many points Jakubick scored. That’s it.

4. But I was also a huge fan of North Carolina guard Steve Hale. You may not know Hale, as he never made it to the NBA (he’s now a medical doctor.) But Michael Jordan once said no one ever defended him like Hale did during UNC practices. I also loved the old Georgetown teams with David Wingate — another top-notch defender who did well in the NBA. I watched those guys for one reason, and that was their defense. Period.

5. Now that I’ve bored you with all that, back to the Cavs.

6. They have held their opponent to fewer than 100 points in three straight games. In today’s high-scoring NBA, that’s practically unheard of. They’ve done it four times during the current win streak.

7. You can just see the frustration on the opponents’ faces. Jarrett Allen is protecting the rim. Donovan Mitchell is stepping in the passing lanes and compiling steals. Isaac Okoro, Max Strus, Dean Wade and Caris LeVert (when healthy) have been keeping their men in front of them and being physical. The list goes on.

8. Of course, none of this is to say the Cavs have been struggling at the other end. Mitchell has scored at least 31 points in three of the last four games. LeVert has scored at least 21 points in five of his last nine games before missing Saturday’s win over the Hawks with a wrist injury. He’s day-to-day, and yes, aren’t we all.

9. I have more on the Cavs in the latest notes right here. And you can check out the weekend dribbles right here. Enjoy the game.

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