INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Part of the reason the Cavaliers acquired Spencer Hawes last week was to space the floor better and give the guards more room to create. While that part of the equation has been successful, the Cavs' remaining healthy perimeter players have picked a lousy time to fall into a shooting slump.
While Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles are injured, Kyrie Irving, Jarrett Jack, Luol Deng and Matthew Dellavedova have struggled terribly in each of the Cavs' two most recent losses.
All four together shot 30 percent (28-for-93) in losses to the Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards. The Cavs were still in both games in the fourth quarter but didn't have enough firepower to get the win. They'll get another shot at the Raptors Tuesday but will need better offensive performances from the perimeter to win. And they need to start compiling wins in a hurry to keep their faint playoff hopes still flickering.
"Every game we lose it's slipping a little more," coach Mike Brown said.
Irving is 9-for-33 in his past two games, including 2-for-12 in the fourth quarters with eight points and one assist. Deng is 10-for-28 despite claiming his Achilles is finally starting to feel better. Deng conceded he was dragging his leg a little bit in the days before the All-Star break and was looking forward to the week off to rest.
He feels better physically and said he can now come early to practice and stay late, which is a stark change from when he was first acquired and unable to practice at all. But his shot has been slow to return.
"I think my timing will come the more I spend in practice," Deng said. "My whole game is playing without the ball. That's what I want to get back to. My game in the past is moving, running, not standing still. That's what I'm good at and what I have to get back to doing."
The Cavs, meanwhile, have to get back to winning. They enter Tuesday's game five games out of the final playoff spot in the East with 25 games to play.
"We're in a situation where every game is a playoff game," Deng said. "Every game matters."