The Cleveland Cavaliers tough start to the season continued on Sunday night, as they went down 115-117 against the struggling Atlanta Hawks. The loss puts their win-loss record at 4-6 and is their fourth in the past five games.

Cleveland Cavaliers defensive woes again proves costly

Once again, it was the defensive end of the floor which proved problematic for the Cavaliers. They have now failed to keep their opponents under 112 points for the eighth game in a row. Their opponents’ average points per game sit at 113.4 for the season, lower than only the Brooklyn Nets and the Phoenix Suns.

In Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose, and Kyle Korver, the Cavs have a number of players well past their athletic prime, making them vulnerable against fast ball movement. Kevin Love has never excelled defensively, while Jae Crowder has failed to live up to expectations at that end of the floor. Isaiah Thomas’ eventual return will be a welcome boost for the Cavs, but he will do nothing to help their problematic defense.

This leaves them with a select few players able to properly defend their position, but it is up to the entire roster to commit to more effort at that end of the floor. At present, lanes are opening up everywhere, while ball handlers are able to get to wherever they want with very little resistance.

At the least, the experienced heads on the team need to better use their defensive knowledge and experience to cover their athletic weaknesses.

Cavaliers performance against poor opponents again in the spotlight

Question marks about Cleveland’s effort levels are being thrust further into the spotlight with every loss to low-rated teams.

Having already suffered defeat at the hands of the Nets, Knicks, Pelicans, and Pacers, the loss to Atlanta is perhaps their worst for the year. The win was just the second of the season for the Hawks, and snapped an eight-game losing streak. A team expected to finish near the bottom of the standings this season, Atlanta also had a number of players missing from their line-up, making the result even more startling for Cleveland.

Despite their deficiencies, the Cavaliers have a roster stacked with talent. Few people would argue that the Hawks would beat them were both teams playing at their best, and Cleveland needs to figure out why they are continually losing games they are expected to win.

It is not the first time LeBron’s Cavs have been underwhelming in the regular season, only to fire when it matters most. At 4-6 though, they need to proceed with caution, because if they Continue down the road they are currently on, a fourth straight Finals appearance may be out of reach.