Cleveland Cavaliers, The Whiteboard

The Whiteboard: The Cleveland Cavaliers had a historically bad rebounding game

Ironically, the Cleveland Cavaliers had one of the worst rebounding games in NBA history to commemorate Tristan Thompson’s return to the lineup.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have been a bad rebounding team this season. The Cavaliers are 19th in the NBA in rebounding percentage and 25th in rebounds per game. It isn’t surprising that Cleveland would have a poor game on the boards.

It is surprising that, in acclaimed rebounder Tristan Thompson’s return to action on Wednesday against the Miami Heat, the Cavaliers would post one of the worst team rebounding performances in NBA history. But that’s exactly what happened.

Cleveland players managed just 22 rebounds against Miami, with two of them coming on the offensive end. The Heat were incapable of making shots early, and Miami players scored the team’s first two buckets after offensive rebounds. The trend of the Heat bullying Cleveland on the boards continued throughout the night.

Miami grabbed 47 rebounds, 13 of which came on the offensive glass. Thompson played well on offense but managed just two rebounds in 23 minutes. Larry Nance Jr., acting as Cleveland’s backup center, led the team with five rebounds in 22 minutes. Nobody else had more than four.

If 22 sounds like an exceedingly tiny amount of rebounds, it’s because it is. Since the 1979-80 season, which kicked off the 3-point era, the NBA has seen just 39 games in which a team grabbed 22 or less rebounds. Somehow, seven of those teams actually won their games despite being held to so few rebounds.

The Cavaliers did not, as Miami’s hot 3-point shooting and effective zone defense combined with Cleveland’s horrid work on the glass to result in a 117-92 blowout. Teams that are very efficient can afford to lose the rebounding battle sometimes, but teams like the 2018-19 Cleveland Cavaliers cannot. At least there’s practically nowhere to go but up from such a bad game on the glass!

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