Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Hawks: ‘We let our guard down and it came back to bite us’

The Cavaliers started a three-game homestand Friday night against the Hawks. Cleveland got the start they wanted and had a 15-point halftime lead.

However, the Hawks picked it up in the second half and took the lead for good in the third. Cleveland had one last chance to tie the game late, but Kevin Pangos missed a three at the buzzer, and Atlanta defeated the Cavaliers 121-118.

Cleveland(20-16) has now lost three straight and four out of the last five, and Atlanta(16-19) snapped their three-game losing streak.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Hawks:

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Love is in the air!! Kevin Love had a season and team-high 35 points, including a game-high seven threes, 11 rebounds, and four assists in 30 minutes of action. According to Elias Sports, he’s the only Cavaliers’ player to tally 35-plus points and 10-plus rebounds off the bench since 1975. Love has been a great weapon off the bench, and this is his fourth straight game of 20-plus points or more. 

-Jarrett Allen is back after missing four games due to health and safety protocols. Allen picked up where he left off and scored 21 points(9/11 FG) and grabbed eight rebounds.

-Evan Mobley just gets it done. The rookie stuffed the stat sheet Friday night. He scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out five assists, and blocked three shots. This season, Mobley has tallied 14 multi-block games and leads all NBA rookies in blocked shots (51 blocks).

-Brandon Goodwin signed with the Cavaliers Friday and made his debut the same day. He had 13 points, six assists, four rebounds in 25 minutes of action off the bench. 

First Half: Cleveland shot 70% from the field(28/40 FG), including 5/11 from downtown in the first half. The Cavs shared the ball as they had 19 assists on 28 field goals. Cleveland had 42 points in the paint and took a 66-51 lead at halftime.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

Third Quarter: Things got bad for the Cavs in the third. Atlanta went on an 11-0 run to take a three-point late and outscored the Cavs 40-22 in the quarter. The Hawks shot 62% from the floor, and Trae Young scored 12 of his 35 points in the third as Atlanta took a 91-88 lead into the fourth.

Three-point shooting: In the past three games, including Friday’s night loss to the Hawks. Cleveland has shot the three ball well in the first quarter, but it falls apart after that.

On Friday night, the Cavaliers shot 4/6 from deep in the first quarter. After that, they were 4/19 from three-point range against Atlanta.

In the last three games, they’ve shot (17/27)63% from three in the first quarter. However, in quarters two through four, they’ve shot 13/67(19%) the rest of the way.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland needs point guard help badly, and it continues to be a struggle without Garland and Ricky Rubio. Fortunately, Garland will be back at some point. It’s a difficult time for the Cavaliers, just like every NBA team, because of health and safety protocols.

We’ve seen what the Cavs look like when they’re whole, and that will happen soon enough, minus Rubio. In addition, they will get Rajon Rondo, so maybe that will help.

However, give Young credit. He’s a star, and stars make things happen, and that’s what he did Friday night for the Hawks.

“We were complacent because we had a lead, but you have to understand they’ve got winners over there who just went to the Eastern Conference finals,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We let our guard down and it came back to bite us.”

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers return to action Sunday when they host the Indiana Pacers.

Best of the Rest:

-Atlanta had six players in double figures. Young led the Hawks with 35 points and 11 assists. Clint Capela added 18 points and 23 rebounds, and Skylar Mays chipped in with 19 points.

-Isaac Okoro added 10 points(4/4 FG) for the Cavs. Cleveland was without Garland (Health and Safety Protocols) and Cedi Osman (Health and Safety Protocols).

-Atlanta had 12 players out due to health and safety protocols: Bodgan Bogdanovic, John Collins,  Sharife Cooper, Gorgui Dieng,  Malik Ellison, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Malcolm Hill, Jalen Johnson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Onyeka Okongwu, Delon Wright.

 

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