Coming off a tough loss against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping to get their first win of the season on Saturday in the second half of a back-to-back against the Atlanta Hawks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.
Fortunately for Cleveland, they got it done!
The Cavaliers(1-2)defeated the Hawks(1-1) 101-95.
The Great for the Cavaliers:
-After saying Friday’s loss was on him due to his six turnovers, Ricky Rubio came back strong against the Hawks. He had a team-high 23 points and eights assists; he also added six rebounds. Rubio is off to a excellent start for Cleveland as he got his second consecutive start for an injured Darius Garland(ankle).
-Evan Mobley continued his solid play on Saturday night. The rookie had his first career double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He also had a game-high four block shots. The third overall pick anchored the Cavs zone defense. When the Cavs switched to a 3-2 zone, Mobley, according to Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff, acted as Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett.
“It’s a Flip Saunders zone that I watched a lot when I was in Minnesota,” Bickerstaff said. “Seeing Evan’s ability to move through that made me think of when K.G. was playing at the top of that zone.”
-Defense: In the first game of the season against the Grizzlies, Cleveland gave up 132 points, and in the next game versus the Hornets, they allowed 123 points. Against the Hawks, the defense was much better. Cleveland held Atlanta below 100 points(95), and the Hawks shot only 38% from the field. Great response by the Cavs on the defensive end, especially in the second half, as they allowed the Hawks to score only 40 points.
-Third-quarter: Cleveland got it done in the third quarter. They outscored the Hawks 31-17. Atlanta shot 6/26(23%) from the field. Mobley had 9 of his 17 points in the third, and Cleveland led by as many as 14 points in the quarter. The Cavs had a 21-0 run from the end of the second quarter into the third.
-Fourth-quarter: Yes, Cleveland was outscored 23-18 in the fourth quarter, but this has been a sore spot for the Cavaliers. In the first two games, they had been outscored by a combined 17 points. However, while they were outscored again in the fourth on Saturday night, they held on and won the game.
-Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro both gave Cleveland solid minutes off the bench. Love had 6 points and a team-high 11 rebounds on Friday night and had another strong performance on Saturday night with 12 points, six rebounds, and three assists in 24 minutes of action. Okoro added nine points, four rebounds, and three assists. In addition, the second-year player helped hold Trae Young to 8/22 shooting from the field.
-Jarrett Allen had his first double-double of the season with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Allen had a combined eight rebounds in the first two games.
-Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded by both the Grizzlies(53-36) and Hornets(46-36), but Saturday night was a different story. The Cavs did a better job on the glass. Both teams had 54 rebounds.
The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:
Cleveland beat a Hawks team that went to the Eastern Conference last season, and they did it without Garland. The Cavs played with toughness, showed grit and heart—an excellent win for this team. Also, Cleveland needed this game because they have a tough five-game trip coming up.
The Cavaliers begin their five-game road trip on Monday night in Denver against the Nuggets. After Denver, they have two in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Wednesday and the Lakers on Friday. They travel to Phoenix to play the Suns on Saturday, and they conclude their road trip in Charlotte on Monday(11/1).
Best of the rest:
Hawks’ Trae Young led the way for Atlanta with 24 points and seven assists, Cam Reddish had 19 points off the bench, and Clint Capela added 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Cavs’ Collin Sexton had 12 points and five assists, Lauri Markkanen added 12 points(3-15 FG) and eight rebounds.
Watch below as Love, Rubio, and Mobley react to Cleveland’s first win of season: