1. Make the defense work
The Cavaliers have the potential to be one of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They did it last season and didn’t lose anyone who was instrumental to that success. Instead, they added Max Strus and Georges Niang who are both capable defenders.
They have shot blockers as well as good wing defenders and even though Mitchell and Garland are not the best one-on-one defenders, they both compete and average over two steals a game.
They will get their fair share of stops, but that doesn’t mean the Kings have to present them on a silver platter. They have to make the defense work for every little thing, which includes ball and player movement, attacking the paint instead of settling for threes that aren’t falling right now, and forcing switches.
Playing defense takes a lot of energy; energy that is then lacking on the defensive end. Over his first eight games, Donovan Mitchell is averaging 29.5 points. The Kings don’t want him to score that much, and while they might not be able to stay in front of him all the time, they can at least force him to chase players around the perimeter on the other end of the floor to take some of his energy and focus away from scoring.
Making the Defense work also includes taking care of the ball. The Cavs average 8.3 steals per game, which has them sitting just outside the top 10.
So far, the Kings have been struggling with turnovers, averaging 14.5 per game. They can’t afford to let the Cavaliers get stops, easy steals, and points off careless turnovers.