Cavs’ Bickerstaff is happy with team as they head into All-Star Break

The Cavs traveled to Atlanta to battle the Hawks in their last game before the All-Star break, and as they did against Joel Embiid and the 76ers, Cleveland ran into another All-Star starter, who was at his best. 

Trae Young had 41 points(13/22 FG) and nine assists as the Hawks defeated the Cavs 124-116 at State Farm Arena.

The Cavs(35-23) have dropped two straight, and the Hawks(27-30) snapped a two-game losing streak.

Here’s the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Hawks.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland has been great the whole first half of the season, and he continued that greatness Tuesday night. The All-Star had a team-high 30 points and eight assists. Garland is averaging 28 points and five assists in the last three games. 

-Evan Mobley scored over 20-plus points for the eighth time this season as he had a double-double with 22 points and 10 rebounds. He also added four assists and four steals. 

First Quarter Kevin Love:  In the first quarter, Love had 14 points(4/5 3 FG), including four threes. Love also had a milestone in the first as he scored his 14,000th career point. He became the fourth player in NBA history to have 14,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 1,400 threes made. The other three players to do it were LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, and Jason Kidd.

-Jarrett Allen, but not for anything he did on Tuesday night. After James Harden withdrew from the All-Star game due to injury, NBA commissioner Adam Silver announced that Allen would replace Harden.

The first-time All-Star was snubbed when the All-Star reserves were initially announced; he once again was snubbed when LaMelo Ball replaced an injured Kevin Durant.

However, Allen would finally get the call on Monday. 

Going into the break, Allen is averaging 16.2 points, 11. 0 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 blocks per contest. The points, rebounds, and assists are all career-highs.

Allen finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, and four assists Tuesday night.

First Quarter: The first quarter has been an issue for the Cavs of late. Cleveland trailed after the first quarter in the last seven games, but that streak was snapped Tuesday night. Love(14) and Garland(10) combined for 24 of Cleveland’s 36 points. The Cavs shot 56% from the floor, including 67%(8/12) from deep, and Cleveland led 36-34 after one.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

-Fast Break Points: The Cavs allowed the Hawks to get out in transition as Atlanta had 16 fast- break points. The Hawks are 29th(9.4 PPG) in fast-break points, but they moving and grooving Tuesday night.

Cleveland scored 116 points on 51% shooting from the floor Tuesday night, but unfortunately, they allowed the Hawks to score 124 points on 54% shooting from the field. Cleveland had difficulty keeping Young under control without fouling as he shot more free throws(13) than the whole Cavs’ team(12). The 124 points were the most points the Cavs have given up since their season-opening loss to Memphis, where they allowed 132 points. 

Fourth Quarter: The Cavs trailed 94-90 after three. They got to 99-98 with just under ten minutes to go, and Atlanta went on a 6-0 run to push the lead to 105-98. Cleveland cut the lead to 113-109 with over four minutes left, but the Hawks went on a 7-2 run to push the lead to nine. 

Kevin Love after the first quarter: After scoring 14 points on 4/5 from three-point range in the first, Love struggled the rest of the way. He scored seven points on 3/12 shooting from the field, including 1/ 4 from downtown. He finished the game with 21 points and seven rebounds.

-Caris LeVert had an off-shooting night against the Hawks. He was 4/12 from the floor, including 1/6 from deep, and finished with nine points off the bench. After scoring 22 points(10/19 FG) in the win over Indiana, LeVert was 9/28 from the floor in the last two games.

Bottom Line:

Even though the Cavs have lost two straight heading into the break, they should be pleased about their start to the season. Not many expected the Cavs to win 35 games this season, and Cleveland has that number after 58 games, so that’s a win for this team.

They have to gear up for the second half of the season and the playoffs. Cleveland will have a busy month of March, as 13 of their 16 games are against playoff teams, so that won’t be easy.

As they head to the break, Cleveland(fourth seed) is two games behind the Heat for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

“We lost to two good basketball teams, two players that are elite players in Trae Young and Joel Embiid,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “They had great nights and they had to have great nights to beat us, so we’ll go back obviously and come back confident and ready to go.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns from the All-Star break on February 24 when they travel to Detroit to battle the Pistons.

Best of the Rest:

-Danilo Gallinari added 25 points, and De’Andre Hunter chipped in with 18 for the Hawks. 

-Cleveland’s Lauri Markkanen missed his 11th straight game with an ankle injury.

-For the fourth time this season, Cleveland had three 20-point scorers(Garland, Mobley, Love) in a game.

Watch below as Garland and Mobley talk loss to Hawks:

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