Originally written on Stepien Rules  |  Last updated 10/15/14
The Cleveland Cavaliers could use some additional help defending the basket. That was my prevailing thought throughout the evening as Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond combined for 52 points in the Pistons win over the Cavs on Wednesday. This became abundantly clear when the young Twin Towers from Detroit stepped onto the court, too, hours before a Hack-a-Drummond strategy was employed. Along the way, though, other questions entered my mind. Would Anderson Varejao fill this gaping need for defensive support up front? Is it unfair to judge a team’s defensive progress without a component of said team who accounts for its highest annual salary?  Should the collective group be better anyway? Should I even care about any of this right now? Do you think Nerlens Noel has seen the redevelopment plans for the Flats project yet? He seems like a guy who’d enjoy Cleveland, right? Those questions were broken up, however, by welcomed distractions highlighted by Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving. Thompson's ability to now pull his defender out 8-10 feet away from the basket and score off the one-to-two dribble attack move is one of my favorite things to watch. He’s becoming more and more confident scoring around the rim with each game, and his unrivaled work ethic continues to pay dividends. So while the Cavaliers couldn’t defend the Pistons bigs up front, the Pistons bigs couldn’t defend Thompson either. Nineteen points for Thompson and he's now averaging 18.2 points and 12 rebounds in the last four games since publicly voicing his support for Byron Scott. Irving had his moments as well on Wednesday. The electric finish to tie the game in the fourth quarter has become routine. He looked tired throughout the evening, didn’t play his best game and still finished with 27. But when you are a player considered among the top dozen in the league, you can be off your game and nearly get 30. Dion Waiters came back against the Pistons, too. Logging 15 minutes in his return from injury, Waiters shot 12 times and finished with 11. It was good to have him back and I’m not sure the Cavaliers would’ve lost against the Pacers had Waiters been available. I was thinking about that too, for some reason, before wanting to see Waiters finish the game. Coach Scott said afterwards that Dion was on a 15-minute time limit, though, and I suppose that makes sense this late in a meaningless game coming off an injury to your No. 4 pick.  The Hack-a-Drummond strategy, though, is something I haven't been able to wrap my arms around. Pun intended by the way, in the event you noticed. This are my questions surrounding the move: Does employing this strategy send a message to your team that you have no faith in them defensively at all?Does employing this plan as long as the Cavaliers did only lead to the type of fouls that Thompson was whistled for late? Or does it simply send a message to Drummond, instead, that 34 percent from the stripe is unacceptable?  Is it an example of how Coach Scott is pulling out all the stops, trying to win in any way possible? Or is this type of strategy going to get whoever it was talking about his job inside that Cavs locker room back talking again? Does it matter? How many more games are left? Four? Got it. So let’s just get through these last four games. Next season the Cavaliers are going to the playoffs anyway. Only question remaining on that is the seed.
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