Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Doncic: ‘He’s a wizard with the ball in his hands’

The Cleveland Cavaliers concluded their three-game homestand Thursday night against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. 

The Cavs were without Evan Mobley(sprained ankle), which is a considerable loss.

Without Mobley, Cleveland could not slow down Doncic as he had 35 points, nine rebounds, and 13 assists, and Dorian Finney-Smith(6/12 3-PT FG) had a career-high 28 points as the Mavs defeated the Cavs 120-112 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

Cleveland(42-34), who is the seventh seed in the East, is now two games behind the sixth-seeded Raptors(44-32) and the fifth seed, the Chicago Bulls(44-32).

Here is the Great, the Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Mavericks.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Caris LeVert had his best game and highest-scoring night as a Cavalier. He scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half to go along with six rebounds and four assists. LeVert looked comfortable, and he attacked from start to finish.

-Darius Garland did what he has done all month long, and that’s record a double-double. The All-Star had 25 points, 10 assists, and four steals. This was Garland’s 11th double-double in the month of March, which is a team record for points and assists double-doubles in a month.

-Moses Brown got his first start as a Cavalier against his former team, and he played well. Brown had 12 points(5/5 FG) and nine rebounds. He played with a lot of energy Monday night.

Second Quarter: The Cavs trailed 34-30 after one quarter but started fast in the second. With the game tied at 34, Cleveland went on a 16-8 run to take their largest lead of the game at 50-42. LeVert had 12 big points in the quarter. The Cavs shot 58% from the floor, including 5/6 from deep. They outscored Dallas 37-27 in the quarter and led 67-61 at halftime.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Third Quarter: The game shifted in the third. With the game tied at 87 with just under five minutes left in the quarter, the Mavs went on a 13-0 run to take their largest lead of 13. Cleveland had no answers for Doncic and Finney-Smith. Doncic had 20 points in the quarter(8/12 FG, 2/3 3-PT FG), and Finney-Smith had 11 points(3/5 3-PT FG). The two scored 31 of Dallas’ 39 points in the third. The Mavs shot 65% from the field, including 50%(5/10) from downtown. The game was pretty much over after the third as Dallas led 100-89 at the end of three.

Defense: The Cavs have played good defense for most of the season. However, of late, they have struggled on the defensive end. They allowed the Mavs, who are 25th in points per game, to score 120 points in regulation on 52% shooting from the floor. Without Mobley and Jarrett Allen, it makes sense that they struggled defensively Wednesday night.

Turnovers: Cleveland had 15 turnovers Wednesday night, which led to 13 points for the Mavs. Way too many turnovers when you’re trying to beat an outstanding team like Dallas.

Bottom Line:

Barring a collapse from the Bulls and Raptors, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be involved in the Play-In Tournament. Considering where they were a few weeks ago, that’s a disappointment.

However, considering all the injuries, this team has dealt with and the expectations for this team coming into the season, making the Play-In Tournament is a success for the Cavs.

The Cavs have six games left, and they will need a lot of help to be one of the top six teams in the East.

Quotes:

“He’s a wizard with the ball in his hands,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Doncic post-game.

What’s Next:

Cleveland travels to Atlanta Thursday night to battle the Hawks. 

Best of the Rest:

Before the game, the Cavs announced that Mobley will be out at least three games, including Wednesday’s game against Dallas, with an ankle sprain after an MRI Wednesday confirmed the injury. According to the team, Mobley will now undergo a period of treatment and rehabilitation, and his return to play will be updated as appropriate. 

-Lamar Stevens scored 16 points; Stevens has been in double figures in five of the last six games. 

-For the second straight game, Cedi Osman was a DNP-CD. 

Watch below as Bickerstaff talks loss to Mavs, Doncic, and more:

 

 

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