Highest plus/minus: Nick Young and Andray Blatche (-5).
Lowest plus/minus: Antonio Daniels (-26).
It's tempting to call this an anomaly, and I'm not going to sit here and belittle that opinion. Every team does have their off nights, and Cleveland did make a lot of tough shots.
But bad nights tend to happen at the end of four-game-in-five-night road trips against crappy teams. They don't happen in games against a key rival in similar position in the Eastern Conference pecking order. Because of that, I can't simply ignore this game.
The thing about defense is that all good ones go inside out. That is to say, a defense is only as good as it's biggest member. You can get all the lockdown perimeter guys you want, but to become a consistent top-notch unit, your biggest guys have to bring it. This explains why Phoenix can never advance to being a good defense even with the presence of Raja Bell and Shawn Marion (though they have been competent in the last couple of year). No interior defense means no consistency on that end.
This season, as in past years, Brendan Haywood has been a very good defender. But tonight, you could tell that he just wasn't into the game, and it killed us. Now, Big Z was hitting some tough shots, but Brendan was content to just raising his arms halfheartedly, instead of aggressively closing out on Z's fadeaways. It's not like we're talking about quick moves either. His lack of energy translated on everyone in the third quarter, when Cleveland literally walked down the lane unguarded.
It's a type of effort we haven't seen from Haywood yet this year, when it was somewhat common in years past. That's concerning to me, because if he keeps throwing in stinkers, we might see more of Etan Thomas or smallball, and that's a really bad thing.