Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to 76ers: ‘We felt and looked like ourselves for the first time in a while’

The Cleveland Cavaliers came to Philly to battle the 76ers Friday night, hoping to rebound from their bad loss to the Hornets Wednesday.

Cleveland played well and had their largest lead of 21 points in the first quarter, but Philly’s Tyrese Maxey(33 points), Joel Embiid(22 points and nine rebounds), and James Harden(25 points and 11 assists) combined for 80 points and the 76ers defeated Cleveland 125-119 at Wells Fargo Center.

The Cavs(36-27) have lost three straight and six of their last seven, while the 76ers(39-23) have won five straight.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the 76ers:

The Great for the Cavs:

-All-Star Darius Garland again played like an All-Star as he had 26 points(10/22, 4/8 3 PT FG), a career-high 19 assists, two steals, and a block. The 19 dimes are tied for the most by a player in a game this season. Garland sliced and diced Philly’s defense all night long.

-Isaac Okoro scored 13 of his 22 points in the first quarter. Okoro scored his points on an array of drives to the basket, and the Cavs’ offense looked better with Okoro attacking.

First Half: Cleveland came out in the first quarter on fire after getting blown out by the Hornets Wednesday night. They hit their first nine shots. Cleveland finished the first quarter shooting 74% from the floor, including 80%(4/5 FG) from deep. Cleveland scored 43 points in the first and led 43-30 after one.

The Cavs would shoot 62% from the field in the first half. However, because Philly has a prolific offense, they were able to stay in the game, and Cleveland led 71-63 at the half.

The 71 points are the Cavs’ highest total on the road in any half this season.

-Jarrett Allen was solid for the Cavs. He shot well(7/8 FG), and he had 20 points, seven rebounds, and a block. He went head-to-head with Joel Embiid(22 points and nine rebounds) and held his own.

-Cedi Osman scored 10 of his 20 in the second quarter off the Cavs’ bench. This is Osman’s second 20-plus point performance in the last three games.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Cleveland shot 54% from the floor, scored 119 points, and did a lot right.

We could point to defense as they allowed Philly to shoot 55% from the field and score 125 points, but not much bad here!

Bottom Line:

Cleveland went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in a playoff atmosphere and held their own. The last time they went to Philly, the Cavs got blitzed and fell apart, but this time they battled.

There is no such thing as a good loss at this level, but this was a good loss. Philly is built to win now, while the Cavs have to get to that level. Cleveland could get to that level, but the 76ers are the better team at this point.

No one expected the Cavs to be this good this season, but now, the goal for Cleveland is to avoid the Play-in Tournament.

To the standings, the Cavs dropped to the sixth seed and are one game behind the fifth-seeded Celtics(38-27) and two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Raptors(34-29).

“I mean, we were better; we felt and looked like ourselves for the first time in a while,” Bickerstaff said. “We just happened to run into a really good basketball team, but there are no silver linings; our guys played Cavalier basketball tonight and gave ourselves a chance to win.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home Sunday to battle the Toronto Raptors.

Best of the Rest:

 -On Friday, Bickerstaff was been fined $20,000 for directing inappropriate language toward game officials and for failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection.

He received two technical fouls and was ejected in the third quarter of the Cavaliers’ loss to the Hornets

-Philly had six players in double figures; Cleveland had five players in double figures. 

-The 76ers took their first lead of the game on George Niang(17 points) floater with 1:55 left in the third.

-The trio of Embiid/Harden/Maxey have combined for 80 points or more in three of the last four games.

Watch below as Garland talks loss to 76ers:

Cavs’ Garland: ‘I think you will see the best basketball from us as we try to make a playoff push’

On Wednesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers(20-34) got a glimpse of what this team could be when they are entirely healthy. Cleveland got Larry Nance Jr. and Jarrett Allen back against the Charlotte Hornets(27-27), and while they were missing their leading scorer Collin Sexton(Left groin strain), it did not matter.

The Cavaliers got a game-high 25 points from Taurean Prince off the bench. Kevin Love and Darius Garland had 17 points apiece, and Jarrett Allen chipped in with 15 points and eight rebounds as Cleveland defeated the Hornets on the road 103-90. 

Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 22 points.

Cleveland had 27 assists on 37 made field goals, led by Garland’s seven assists.

“It was fun for me,” Garland said after the game. “I was just making different reads and making plays.”

Cleveland moved to two games behind the 10th-seeded Bulls for the final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. 

According to Allen, who returned after missing eight games due to a concussion, the Cavs will do whatever they can to get into the play-in tournament. 

“We have 18 games to go, and we’re going to fight to get into that play-in game,” Allen said.

Garland added: “I think you will see the best basketball from us as we try to make a playoff push.”

At this point, it should be interesting to see what the Cavs look like at full strength, and they will pretty much be at full strength when Sexton returns. 

After Thursday’s showdown against the Warriors, Cleveland will have an interesting eight-game stretch, which will include games against Bulls(2x), Wizards(2x), and the Raptors. The Bulls are the 10th seed, Washington is the 12th seed, and the Raptors are the 11th seed, so these games are an excellent opportunity for Cleveland to move up the Eastern Conference standings. 

However, no matter what happens, it will be good for this young group to be involved in playoff-caliber basketball, which could help the young players going forward.

Notes:

Nance Jr. returned after missing seven games due to illness. He scored five points in 20 minutes off the bench against the Hornets.

Love recorded his 8,000th career rebound on Wednesday night. He is just the fifth player in NBA history with 13,000 points, 8,000 rebounds, and 1,000 three-point made field goals, joining LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Antawn Jamison and Jason Kidd.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Our focus strictly needs to be on how are we playing’

No Kawhi Leonard and no Paul George for the Clippers on Sunday night against the Cavaliers, but it did not matter. Lou Williams scored 30 points, and Marcus Morris Sr. added 23 as the Clippers(20-8) defeated the Cavaliers 128-111 at Staples Center. 

Collin Sexton led the way for Cleveland with 22 points.

With the loss, Cleveland(10-18) has now dropped seven straight and nine out of their last 10. Cleveland has been beaten by double digits in three out of the four games on this trip. The Cavalier finish off this five-game road trip on Monday night against the Warriors.

The defense was again an issue for Cleveland. The Cavaliers allowed over 120 points for the sixth time in the last seven games. 

 Cedi Osman, who scored 20 points off the bench, acknowledged that the team is not playing well on the defensive end.

“When we’re playing defense, offensively, we were great,” Osman said. “We were sharing the basketball. We were playing for each other, but right now, defensively, we are not playing good.”

In fairness to Cleveland, they have played some very good teams during this game road trip. Cleveland has lost to Clippers(2x), Bucks(2x), Denver, Portland, and Phoenix in the last seven.  

“Without making excuses, we have played really good teams in this stretch,” Cavaliers head. coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the loss to the Clippers. “Our concern has to be are we playing well, and if we’re playing well, we give ourselves an opportunity. Against these teams that are competing for a championship, you can’t afford to make those mistakes and give yourself an honest chance to win the game at the end, so our focus strictly needs to be on how are we playing.”

Cleveland surprised the league when they started the season 3-0, and they were not as good as that start indicated, but they are probably not as bad as what we have seen of late. Once Cleveland gets home, they can regroup and try to fix what’s wrong.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Bucks: ‘I think they broke our spirit’

Like they did against the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers fought and battled against the Bucks at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday, but just like what happened against the Clippers, the Cavaliers did not have enough.

Against the Clippers, Cleveland(10-13) trailed by three at the half but were outscored by 11 in the third quarter and would lose 121-99. 

On Friday against the Bucks(14-8), Cleveland led by three at the half and trailed by five entering the fourth quarter. The Cavs would score only 16 points in the final quarter and would fall to Milwaukee 123-105.

Reigning-MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo led the Bucks with 34 points and 13 rebounds, while Cleveland’s Collin Sexton had a team-high 19 points.

The Bucks are a championship-caliber team, and Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff felt Milwaukee broke his team’s spirit.

“I think they broke our spirit,’ Bickerstaff said after the game. “That is what I saw more than anything. They made us pay for our mistakes, and they keep coming. They keep coming, and I thought we lost some of that determination in the fourth quarter.”

Cavs’ Cedi Osman, who scored 12 points off the bench, added: “I think there was one period in the fourth quarter. They took an offensive rebound; They made a three, and then, J.B(Bickerstaff) took a timeout, and it was a six-point game. It was only a six-point game, but our heads were down like we were down by 15. It was actually a two-possession game. We can’t do that. We have to keep our heads up.”

According to Bickerstaff, Cleveland has to do a better job of playing through mistakes.

“I thought we made some mistakes, and then, we put our heads down,” he said. “We’re learning and understanding. You watch them play. If you score on them, they get the ball out quickly, and they move on to the next possession. Simple thing for us, they score on us, the ball bounces, head down, and we play slowly out the gate.

“We have to in those moments be able to get through those. Short-term memory, move onto the next possession, and limit the mistakes down the stretch. That I thought bit us in the butt in the moment.”

Learning how to win consistently in the NBA is a process, and right now, Cleveland is going through the process of learning how to win. They will have an opportunity to work through that process on Saturday night in the second game of their two-game home set against Milwaukee.

Expect the Cavs to bounce back against Minnesota on Monday night

After their 109-104 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves(5-14) on Sunday night, the Cavaliers(9-11) have now lost two straight. Fortunately for Cavs, they get a chance to get right back at it on Monday, but this time, the game is in Cleveland.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, they will be without their two best frontcourt players in Andre Drummond(back) and Larry Nance Jr.(wrist). Drummond had a 20-20 game on Sunday night against Minnesota with 25 points and 22 rebounds. Nance Jr., who finished with two points on Sunday night, was clearly hampered by his wrist injury, so it’s no surprise that he will miss Monday night’s game.

Against Minnesota on Sunday night, Cleveland struggled with turnovers. They had 19 turnovers, which led to 29 points for the Timberwolves.

Cavs point guard Darius Garland had four of the team’s 19 turnovers, and he believes that the turnovers cost his team the game.

“Turnovers,” Garland said about why the team lost to Minnesota. “We beat ourselves. That’s it.”

Minnesota had 16 threes, including three by D’Angelo Russell(5 threes in total) in the fourth quarter. Malik Beasley(five threes) and Anthony Edwards(five threes) led the way for the Timberwolves with 23 points apiece.

Cleveland is a young team, so they will have moments, times, and situations, where they will struggle, but they play hard and are well-coached, so expect them to bounce back on Monday night as they begin a four-game homestand.

Cavs’ GM is excited about the acquisition of Jarrett Allen

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired center Jarrett Allen and forward Taurean Prince from the Brooklyn Nets as part of a three-team trade that also includes the Houston Rockets, the team announced on Thursday.

In exchange, Cleveland is sending guard Danté Exum and a 2022 unprotected first round draft pick via Milwaukee to Houston, and the lesser of Utah and Cleveland’s 2024 second round draft picks to Brooklyn. The Cavaliers have also acquired from Brooklyn the draft rights to Aleksandar Vezenkov, who was selected by the Nets with the 57th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. 

As part of the three-team trade, the Nets are receiving guard James Harden from the Rockets. In exchange, Houston is receiving forward Caris LeVert, forward Rodions Kurucs, three first round draft picks, and the rights to swap four first round draft picks from Brooklyn. While it’s not official, it is expected that LeVert will be shipped to Indiana for Victor Oladipo.

For Cleveland, they add a young center in the 6-11 Allen. In 12 games (five starts) for the Nets this season, Allen is averaging career highs of 11.2 points on .677 shooting from the field, 10.4 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks in 26.7 minutes. The 22-year-old Allen is an excellent finisher around the basket and is a very good shot-blocker.

Cavaliers GM Koby Altman is excited about the acquisition of Allen and what he brings to the table. 

“Obviously, you build through the draft,” Altman said on Thursday. “When we started this process a couple of years ago, we knew we were going to build through the draft. Very excited about the additions we made there the last two, three years… To add a center that’s 22 years old, but that’s going into his fourth year in the league. That’s proven, that has more upside, that has all the intangibles you look for to add to your culture. To have that opportunity yesterday, we just felt was too good to pass up. 

Adding Allen, who will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season, to what the Cavs have in guys like Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Isaac Okoro is exciting. There is a lot of youth with a lot of upside right now in Cleveland.

Regarding the 26-year-old Prince, he will get a decent opportunity, especially with all the injuries in Cleveland. In 12 games (four starts) this season with the Nets, Prince is averaging 8.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 18.2 minutes.

With this trade, the Cavaliers have three centers in JaVale McGee, Andre Drummond, and Allen. Drummond can become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, so what Cleveland does there should be interesting. The 27-year-old Drummond, who has played well and is making $28.7 million this season, could be enticing for some teams because of his expiring contract, so with Allen in the mix and based on what the Cavs gave up to get Allen, it would appear that Drummond could be the odd man out in Cleveland. We’ll see how that situation plays out.

Also, on Thursday, the Cavaliers waived center Thon Maker and released guard Yogi Ferrell. Maker played in eight games with Cleveland this season, averaging 3.8 points and 2.3 rebounds in 9.5 minutes. He joined the Cavaliers in the 2020 Preseason. Ferrell (6-0, 178) was signed to a 10-day contract by Cleveland on Jan. 11 and appeared in two games for the Cavaliers this season, averaging 9.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals in 20.0 minutes.

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Our guys are sticking together, lifting each other up, and we’re trying to get the job done’

Injuries happen and are apart of the game, but for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the amount of injuries this team has suffered thus far this season is just ridiculous. After getting off to a 3-0 start, Cleveland(5-7) has now lost seven out of their last nine and three straight after getting routed by the Jazz at home 117-87 on Tuesday night.

The Cavaliers were without eight players, including Andre Drummond, who played in every game this season before missing Tuesday’s action with an Achilles contusion.

In addition, they were without their starting backcourt, and maybe their two best scorers in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, along with the league’s top rebounder in Drummond. So, without those guys, defeating the Jazz was going to be tough. Despite the loss, Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with his team’s efforts.

“The group that we had out there gave us what they had,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “They had to play a ton of minutes; they had to play out of position, and they fought and gave us what they had. They played the game the right way with one another, and we just struggled, obviously, offensively with so much missing.”

Cleveland is growing as a team, and not many expected them to make a lot of noise this season. However, the players on the floor now for this team make it difficult for the Cavs to win games, but despite the injuries, Bickerstaff is pleased with his young Cavaliers’ mindset.

“Obviously, we all deal with the fact of the disappointment that our teammates are hurt,” he said. “I think that’s first and foremost. But, there is an acceptance of the reality and the idea of trying to do what’s best no matter what. So, there is a bought-in group; they’re a positive group. Nobody is down in the dumps or hanging their head. 

“They’re trying to go out, do the right thing and compete and play the game the right way, and they’re still bought into that. It is difficult when you see human beings getting injured. Obviously, human nature makes you feel that kind of way. Our guys are sticking together, lifting each other up, and we’re trying to get the job done.”

Cleveland has to find a way to work through this rough patch and hope they can get healthy sooner than later. If not, a once-promising season at the start could turn into a struggle due to injuries.

Bucks acquire George Hill in three-team deal

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired guard Matthew Dellavedova and forward/center John Henson from the Milwaukee Bucks as part of a three-team trade, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today.

As part of the trade, Cleveland is also receiving Milwaukee’s own 2021 first round pick and 2021 second round pick as well as a 2022 second round pick from the Washington Wizards. In exchange, the Cavaliers will send guard George Hill and a 2021 second round pick (Washington’s via Utah) to the Bucks and forward Sam Dekker to the Wizards. In addition, Milwaukee will also receive forward Jason Smith from Washington.

“First and foremost, I’d like to thank George Hill,” said Altman. “He helped us get to the NBA Finals last year and has been a consummate professional on the court and in our community. Both George and Sam Dekker went about their work here with professionalism and class and we wish them the best. At the same time, we’re very pleased to bring Delly back to Cleveland and want to welcome John Henson as well. This deal satisfied several important aspects for us in terms of having both long and shorter term benefits and assets involved. We will continue to look for ways to improve and strengthen our position for the future, while enhancing our ability to compete and grow in the short-term also.”

Hill (6-3, 188) appeared in 37 games (all starts) for Cleveland after being acquired by the Cavaliers on Feb. 8, 2018, averaging 9.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 27.4 minutes per game over that span. Dekker (6-9, 230), who was acquired by Cleveland on Aug. 7, 2018, played in nine games (five starts) for the Cavs this season, averaging 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.22 steals in 18.8 minutes per game.

Dellavedova (6-4, 200) played his first three NBA seasons with the Cavaliers from 2013-2016 and was a member of Cleveland’s 2016 NBA Championship team. In 215 career games (31 starts) with the Cavs, he averaged 5.7 points and 3.4 assists in 21.0 minutes per game. Dellavedova ranks ninth in Cavs history for three-point percentage (.398). He appeared in 12 games this season with Milwaukee and owns career averages of 5.8 points and 3.7 assists in 21.4 minutes over 341 games (88 starts) with the Cavaliers and Bucks. Dellavedova will wear jersey number 18 for the Cavs.

Henson (6-11, 219), who is in his eighth NBA season, has spent his entire career with Milwaukee, appearing in 405 games (152 starts) and averaging 7.8 points on .539 shooting, 5.4 rebounds and 1.48 blocks in 20.1 minutes per game. This season, he played in 14 games for the Bucks and averaged 5.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 13.4 minutes per game. He also appeared in the playoffs in four seasons with Milwaukee, playing in 14 games (two starts) and averaging 5.8 points on .536 shooting, 5.1 rebounds and 1.21 blocks in 19.4 minutes per game. Henson will wear jersey number 31 for the Cavs.

Kevin Love on Cavs: ‘I’m excited about the team that we have’

CLEVELAND – The Cleveland Cavaliers and Kevin Love have signed a new multi-year contract extension Cavs General Manager Koby Altman announced today. According to ESPN, it’s a four-year, $120 million contract extension that tops out his overall deal at five years, $145 million,

“We are very excited to announce Kevin’s long-term commitment to the Cavaliers and Cleveland. This quickly became a partnership the second we began these discussions. Collaboration and winning matter greatly to Kevin and that was reflected in this extension,” said Altman. “Kevin’s talent and character are both at a very high level and he has earned his role at the center of what we want to do moving forward. As a five-time All-Star and NBA Champion, Kevin has a special understanding of exactly what success and winning require.”

“When I first came to Cleveland, I came with a long-term mindset,” said Love. “I came here to win. We developed a culture here that reflects that. I’m super excited and I couldn’t be happier. It’s a big commitment for me and it’s a big commitment from the Cavaliers, so I want to thank Dan Gilbert, Koby Altman and the entire organization. I enjoy playing here, I’m excited about the team that we have and look forward to our future together. Cleveland fans have been special from day one and I’m also looking forward to continuing to be a part of this great community.”

Love (6-10, 251) was an NBA All-Star this past season, appearing in 59 games (all starts) for Cleveland and averaging 17.6 points and a team-high 9.3 rebounds in 28.0 minutes per game.

Love, who is a 10-year NBA veteran, is one of only eight players in NBA history to accumulate 11,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 1,000 three-pointers (Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, LeBron James, Rasheed Wallace, Antawn Jamison), as well as the only player to ever hold a career average at least 10.0 rebounds and knock down 1,000 three-pointers or more.