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LeBron says Cavs need urgency; first-quarter numbers say he's right

Saturday, November 7, 2015 8:43:00 AM America/Los_Angeles

Could there be a little bit of panic in Cleveland? The Cleveland Cavaliers shouldn't be worried after a week and a half of basketball, especially when they get the reprieve of having their starting backcourt out for the first big chunks of the season. That doesn't mean going through the playoffs without home-court advantage is something the Cavs want to have to do again.

The Cavs' slow starts are a bit troublesome, even if we're seeing them before Thanksgiving hits. Cleveland has been the fifth worst first-quarter team so far this season, ahead of only the Lakers, Nets, Celtics, and Pelicans. The Cavaliers are getting outscored by 11.4 points per 100 possessions in the first quarter, which puts them in a position to have to dig out of big holes early for the rest of the game. It's not exactly an efficient use of their energy and focus, and that can be even more taxing than maintaining a lead.

The defense has been bad, but the offense has been horrendous. They're scoring an offensive rating of 89.3 in the first period, which is a Hinkie Sixers reclamation project level of awful. They make just 38.9 percent of their first-quarter shots with Kevin Love struggling the most. He's taking 5.4 shots in the first quarter -- tied with LeBron -- but Love is making just 33.3 percent of those attempts.

Things will obviously become much easier when Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert are back. Irving is one of the top scorers in the league and was so good in the Cavs' attack last season. Shumpert was part of the midseason makeover that helped fix their defense for the playoffs. Having both of those guys stabilizes so much. But the Cavs are good enough to be a 55-win team even with those injuries, and that shouldn't have to come by taxing LeBron early in the season to dig out of those holes and get those wins.

If Love can get going or the defense can create easy scoring opportunities in transition, that sense of urgency will become less and less important and the patient pace of the season can resume.

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