The Brooklyn Nets are one of the best teams in basketball, so even with a healthy roster, the Cavs would have a hard time beating them at Barclays Center.
Cleveland, who were without four of their five starters(Collin Sexton, Jarrett Allen, Lauri Markkanen, and Evan Mobley), trailed by as many as 23 points before trimming the lead to seven in the fourth. However, they would fall short and lose to the Nets(11-5) 109-99 on Wednesday night.
The Cavaliers(9-7) have now lost two straight.
Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to Brooklyn:
The Great for the Cavaliers:
Cavs’ Backcourt: Ricky Rubio(25 points, five assists, and four rebounds) and Darius Garland(24 points, six assists, and five rebounds) combined for 49 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds on Wednesday. These two scored half of Cleveland’s points against Brooklyn, but it wasn’t enough.
Second-Half Garland: Garland was sizzling in the second half. He scored 20 points in the second half, including 13 points in the fourth. He finished the half 8/14 from the field, including 3/7 from downtown. After struggling early, the third-year guard kept on shooting, and the shots started to fall. Garland ended the game 10/26 from the floor.
Third Quarter: Cleveland trailed 62-41 at halftime. However, they finally woke up in the third. The Cavs outscored the Nets 32-19 in the quarter, and Garland and Rubio had seven points apiece. Ultimately, the Cavs got within striking distance as they trailed 81-73 after three.
“There was so much we did better in the second half (and) really started to make (the Nets) feel us,” Kevin Love said postgame.
Love is in the Air: Love returned after missing eight games due to his bout with COVID-19. He was solid on Wednesday as he had 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench.
“The first four or five days were pretty tough,” Love said. “All the usual symptoms that I think people might get. Crazy muscle aches, sensitive skin, can’t smell, taste, muscle spasms, fatigue. Then just chest and head got hit pretty tough as well. Definitely don’t wish that on anybody.”
The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:
First Half: In the first half, the Cavaliers were ice-cold as they shot 33.3% from the field, including 4/24 from three-point range. Brooklyn was moving the ball in that half as they had 17 assists on 20 made field goals.
First Half Garland: Garland shot 2/12 from the field, including 0/4 from downtown, and finished with four points, two assists, and two turnovers. He struggled, but as we all know, he turned it around in the second half.
We all knew Cleveland would have to play out of their mind to beat Brooklyn, and they still might have lost. This would be a tough stretch for the Cavaliers with all their players, but it becomes even more difficult without their key players. After the Warriors, who have the best record in basketball, they have the Nets again on Monday and the Suns on Wednesday before ending their homestand on Saturday against the Magic.
On Thursday night, the Cavs return home to start a four-game homestand against the Warriors.
Best of the Rest:
Brooklyn had four players score 20 points or more on Wednesday night led by James Harden’s 27 points; LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points off the bench, Kevin Durant had 23 points, and Patty Mills chipped in with 21 (six threes).
Ed Davis got his first start of season for Cleveland. He was effective in 24 minutes and finished with six points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
Listen below as Love and Garland react to Cleveland’s loss to Brooklyn: