Here’s the Great, Not So Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ win over Orlando

The Cavaliers returned to action on Wednesday night as they hosted the winless Orlando Magic(0-5). Cleveland, who came off a 117-107 win in OT over the Wizards on Sunday, was hoping to make it three straight. 

Cleveland led 73-69 heading into the fourth, and the Cavs(3-1) took their largest lead of 12 points in the final quarter as they defeated the Magic 103-92.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Magic.

The Great:

Jarrett Allen: He had season-highs of 18 points and 16 rebounds; this was Allen’s second straight double-double and his third double-double in four games.

Also, according to the Cavs, he surpassed the 3,000 career rebound mark as he becomes the only active NBA player age 25 or younger to reach that mark.

Evan Mobley: The second-year forward had a breakout performance and led the team with a season-high 20 points. Seven of those 20 points came in the fourth. He’s finding his way on the offense and was big Wednesday night.

Cedi Osman: Osman had 14 points off the Cavs’ bench. Again, another strong performance from Osman as he continues to get the job done for the Cavs. He has scored in double-figures in all four games for the Cavs this season.

Second-Half Defense: The Magic shot 50% from the field in the first half. However, the Cavs’ defense stiffened, and Orlando shot only 36% from the field in the second half.

Not So Great:

Donovan Mitchell: I hate to put Donovan Mitchell on this list because he’s been so good this season. However, he was 5/19 from the field and 1/7 from deep. He ended up with 14 points, but he did have eight assists. Mitchell’s shot was off Wednesday night, but to his credit, he did impact the game in other ways. 

Bottom Line:

The Cavs won a game they were supposed to win. They didn’t play their best basketball against the Magic and let them hang around. It wasn’t pretty, but Cleveland got the job done in the end.

What’s Next: 

Cleveland goes on the road Friday night to face the reigning Eastern Conference champions, the Boston Celtics.

Best of the Rest:

The Cavs had six players in double figures for the third straight game, including their starting five. Dean Wade and Caris LeVert had 12 points apiece.

Rookie Paolo Banchero had a career-high 29 points for the Magic, and Franz Wagner added 22.

Junk Yard Dog Award:

Allen and Mobley both received the Junk Yard Dog award for their performances on Wednesday night.

Cavs pull it out in OT; here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of Cavs’ win over Wizards

The Cavaliers returned home for the second half of a back-to-back on Sunday as they battled the Wizards in the home opener at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland(2-1) had a lead late but allowed the Wizards(2-1) to tie the game in regulation and send it to overtime. In OT, the Cavs outscored the Wizards 14-4 to win 117-107.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Wizards.

Great:

Donovan Mitchell: The three-time All-Star had another 30-plus point game as he had 37 points(5/12 3pt FG), five rebounds, four assists, and three steals. In OT, with the Cavs down one, Mitchell made a layup plus the foul, and on the next possession, he had a big steal that set up Cedi Osman for a layup plus the foul. According to Elias Sports, Mitchell is just the third player in NBA history to score 30-plus points in each of his first three games with a franchise.

Jarrett Allen: He was tough and gritty on Sunday. He recorded his second double-double in three games with 15 points, 14 rebounds, and two blocks. Allen punctuated the game with a big dunk over Kristaps Porzingis in OT.

Cedi Osman: The Cavs got off to a slow start in the first quarter, and Osman checked in and immediately sparked the Cavs. He scored 10 of his 16 points in the first quarter. The Cavs bench outscored the starters in the first half, and Osman was a big reason that happened.

Defense: Cleveland forced 20 Wizards turnovers, which led to 28 points. In addition, they had 10 steals and five blocked shots. Washington had no field goals in the final 3:19 of the game.

Not So Great:  

Donovan Mitchell:  With less than a minute left in regulation, and the Cavs up four, Mitchell got a little sloppy with the ball. He was stripped by Bradley Beal, who got fouled and made two free throws. The next possession, he got stripped by Will Barton, which ended in a Barton dunk, and after Mitchell missed a jumper on the final possession, the game went to overtime. Not a great sequence for Mitchell.

Bottom Line:

The energy at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse was terrific, and Mitchell gave them a lot to cheer about. He’s been as advertised and then some. Mitchell can get anywhere he wants on the court and score the ball at a high level. In addition, Cleveland continues to get great play from its bench, especially Osman, who has been outstanding in the first three games. Still early, but the Cavs may have something with this roster.

What’s Next:

Cleveland has a few days off before they battle the Orlando Magic at home on Wednesday night.

Best of the Rest:

The Cavs had six players in double figures for the second game in a row. Dean Wade had 12 points off the bench; Evan Mobley and Caris LeVert had 10 points apiece.

Beal’s 27 points led Washington; Porzingis had 18 points and 11 rebounds, and Rui Hachimura chipped in with 16 points off the bench.

Cavs rout Bulls in Chicago; here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of Cavs’ win over Bulls

The Cavs(1-1) came into Chicago(1-2) on Saturday night to battle the Bulls for the first of four matchups between the two teams this season.

Cleveland, who was without Darius Garland(eye), fell to the Raptors in Toronto in their season opener, while the Bulls were playing the second half of a back-to-back after losing to the Wizards in D.C. on Friday night.

The Cavs played like the fresher team, and after a slow start in the first quarter, Cleveland dominated the rest of the way. They led by as many as 19 in the first half, and Cleveland had their biggest lead of 32 in the fourth quarter as the Cavs crushed the Bulls 128-96 at United Center.

According to Elias Sports, the Cavs’ 32-point win in Chicago was the team’s largest margin of victory against the Bulls franchise.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Bulls.

The Great:

First Half: Cleveland scored 70 points in the first half on 63% shooting, including 71% from deep. They were red-hot in that first half, which carried them to a 70-54 lead at the break.

‘Spyda’: Mitchell, who handled the point guard duties with Garland out, had a game-high 32 points, nine rebounds, and eight assists. In addition, according to Elias Sports, Mitchell became the first player in team history to open a season with back-to-back 30-point games. He’s special!

Bench: Cedi Osman and Kevin Love were a big spark off the bench. Osman had 10 points in the first half, and Love scored nine points in the first quarter, including 3-3 from deep. Love finished the night with 15 points and 12 rebounds, including five threes. Osman added 15 points and was a team-best +41. Also, Robin Lopez chipped in with 12 points(6-7 FG). After getting 33 points from its bench against Toronto, the Cavs got 56 points from the bench on Saturday night.

Fourth Quarter: On Thursday night against the Raptors, the Cavs led by eight as they entered the fourth quarter, and Toronto outscored them 32-21 to take control of the game. Saturday night was a different story. Cleveland, who led 93-79 entering the fourth, outscored Chicago 35-17 in the quarter, holding the Bulls to 235% shooting from the field. In addition, the Cavs shot 50% from the floor, including 63% from downtown(5/8). They lost the game in the fourth against Toronto, but against Chicago, they closed this game the right way.

Three-point shooting: Cleveland shot 16/27 from deep(595%). Love led the way with five, and Mitchell connected on four threes. The Cavs finished the game shooting 565% from the field. That’s impressive, that’s big time, and that’s one reason they’re 1-1.

Not So Great

When you win by 32 points, it’s usually all good. However, Cleveland did have 18 turnovers, which is a bit high.

Bottom Line:

This was a nice bounce-back win for the Cavs. The energy was great, and Mitchell was great. Just an overall solid team effort. One thing is clear; this team has depth, athleticism, and talent, which could help them compete night in and night out. It’s 2 of 82, but you have to like what you see so far from the Cavs.

What’s Next:

Cleveland will play the second half of a back-to-back as they host the Wizards(2-0) in their home-opener at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Sunday.

Best of the Rest:

The Cavs had six players in double figures on Saturday night. Evan Mobley had 16 points, and Caris LeVert added 14 points and eight assists.

For the Bulls, Zach LaVine, who made his season debut, led the way with 23 points, and Nikola Vucevic added 16.

Time for the Cavs to focus on Play-In Tournament

The Cavs headed to Atlanta to battle the Hawks Thursday night in the second game of a back-to-back.

Cleveland lost to the Mavericks 120-112 Wednesday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Atlanta dominated and led from wire to wire and defeated the Cavs 131-107 at State Farm Arena.

Trae Young had a game-high 30 points and nine assists; Kevin Huerter had 23 points. The Hawks had six players in double figures.

Cedi Osman led the Cavs with 21 points off the bench.

Cleveland(42-35) dropped their second straight, while the Hawks(40-37) have won four straight and five of their last six.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

You lose by 24 points and trail from start to finish; there’s really nothing extraordinary, but let’s show some love to Moses Brown, who signed a two-way contract with the Cavs earlier in the day. Brown had a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

EVERYTHING!!

The Cavs’ starting forwards of Caris LeVert and Lauri Markkanen combined for 17 points on 7/17 shooting from the floor. LeVert had nine points, while Markkanen had eight. They needed more from these two guys. 

Turnovers: The Cavs had 15 turnovers in their loss to Dallas, and they came back and committed 14 more turnovers Thursday night, which led to 24 points for the Hawks. 

Three-Point Shooting: Cleveland did not guard the three very well, and they could not make many threes either. The Cavs were 7/30 from three-point range. Both Dylan Windler(0/5 3-PT FG) and Kevin Love(2-7) miss five threes apiece. Conversely, the Hawks made 17 threes.

Defense: For the second consecutive night, Cleveland gave up 100 points after three quarters. Against Dallas on Wednesday night, they allowed 120 points in regulation. Thursday night, Cleveland gave up 131 points, which is unacceptable, but again, not surprising when two of your best defensive bigs(Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley) are sitting in street clothes. The Hawks shot 50% from the floor.

Third Quarter: Against the Mavs Wednesday night, the Cavs were outscored 39-22, and Thursday night versus the Hawks, their third-quarter woes continued as they were outscored 34-22 in the quarter. The Hawks shot 55% from the floor in the quarter and held the Cavs to 32% shooting from the field, including 1/3 from downtown. Atlanta led by 13 at halftime and had a 100-75 lead after three quarters. 

Bottom Line:

This was a bad performance for the Cavs, but these games happen in the NBA. Cleveland is a tired, depleted team who, at this point, is limping to the finish line. Unfortunately, they’ll have four games in five nights, so there’s no rest for the weary.

The way they’re playing right now, the Cavs may not win another game in the regular season. However, maybe this loss could wake them up.

With fives games left, they trail the fifth-seeded Bulls(45-32) by three games and the sixth-seeded Raptors(44-32) by 2 1/2 games, so that situation looks bleak.

It’s all about the Play-In Tournament for the Cavs. If they stay at the seventh or eighth seed, Cleveland would have two opportunities to win one game to make the playoffs, which is very doable, especially when you consider that they could have two home games(if necessary) in this tournament.

Currently, the seventh-seeded Cavs have a two-game lead over Brooklyn(40-37), Charlotte(40-37), and the Hawks(40-37), so they are in decent shape. 

At the end of the day, the Cavs just need to start playing better!

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads to New York City to battle the Knicks Saturday night.

Best of the Rest:

Earlier in the day, the Cavs announced that they had converted the contract of guard RJ Nembhard to a standard NBA contract.

The 23-year-old Nembhard has appeared in 13 games this season for the Cavaliers as well as 13 games (12 starts) with the Cleveland Charge, the Cavaliers’ exclusively-owned and operated NBA G League team. With the Charge, Nembhard averaged 22.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 5.2 assists in 37.7 minutes. Nembhard went undrafted in 2021 after playing four seasons at Texas Christian University.

-Darius Garland had 18 points and eight assists against the Hawks. The All-Star recorded his 171st assists in the month of March, which is a team record.

Listen below as Osman reacts to loss to Hawks:

Cavs get back on track in win over Raptors

The Cleveland Cavaliers returned to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Sunday night to play a big game against the Toronto Raptors.

Coming into the game, the sixth-seeded Cavs were two games up on the seventh-seeded Raptors, so if the Cavs wanted to avoid the Play-In Tournament, this game was a must.

Cleveland led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter, and the Cavs would defeat the Raptors 104-96.

The Cavs(37-27) snap their three-game losing streak with the win, while the Raptors(34-30) have lost three straight.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Raptors.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Evan Mobley showed out for a national TV audience Sunday night. Mobley had 20 points, a career-high-tying 17 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Jarrett Allen missed most of the game, and Mobley stepped up. This was Mobley’s 16th double-double of the season(tied for the most among rookies). Mobley and Toronto’s Scotty Barnes(19 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists) are both in the running for Rookie of the Year, and both played well Sunday night.

-Lauri Markkanen had a team-high 22 points, a season-high 12 rebounds, and a block against the Raptors. This was Markkanen’s second double-double of the season. Again, without Allen, Cleveland needed their bigs to stand up, and like Mobley, Markkanen stood up. 

-Darius Garland chipped in with his second straight double-double as he had 17 points and 10 assists. He also added three rebounds and two steals. 

-Second Quarter: Cleveland led 30-29 after one quarter, and they picked things up in the second quarter, mainly on the defensive end. They held the Raptors to 23%(5/22) shooting from the floor, including 0/5 from deep. Cleveland outscored Toronto 29-17 in the quarter and took a 59-46 lead at the break.

Defense: The Cavs brought that defensive intensity and energy Sunday night. Toronto had two quarters where they scored less than 20 points; they shot 39% from the field, including 6/25 from three-point range. In addition, the Cavs held a team below 100 points for the first time since February 26.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

-Jarrett Allen left the game in the first quarter with a left quad contusion. After the win, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Allen also suffered a fractured finger and is expected to be sidelined indefinitely. 

The All-Star was having a tremendous season, so Cleveland will miss what he brings to the table.

-Cleveland had 19 turnovers, which led to 20 points for Toronto. Garland had seven of the 19 turnovers.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland needed to win this game badly, and they got it done. They got back to who they were earlier in the season, and that’s playing well on defense, but unfortunately, they will have more adversity to overcome with Allen’s injury.

This season, Cleveland lost Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio for the season. Markkanen missed time with COVID and an ankle injury, Garland is battling a back injury, and Caris LeVert(foot) and Rajon Rondo(toe) are currently out, but to the Cavs’ credit, they still keep pushing.

Cleveland is now three games up on the Raptors and one game behind the fifth-seeded Celtics(39-27).

Again, as stated previously, the Cavs just need to worry about being one of the top six teams in the East.

What’s Next:

Cleveland begins a three-game road trip Tuesday night in Indiana against the Pacers.

Best of the Rest:

The Cavs had five players in double figures. Cedi Osman added 17 points, and Kevin Love poured in 15 points off the bench.

-Toronto’s Pascal Siakam had a game-high 24 points; Chris Boucher scored 21 points, and Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points apiece.

According to Cavs Notes, since 1989-90 season, seven rookies had 20-plus points, 17-plus rebounds, and 3-plus blocks in a single game, including Mobley:

Dikembe Mutombo (11/2/91 and 11/26/91)

Tim Duncan (4/10/98 and 1/19/98)

Elton Brand (11/19/99)

Shaquille O’Neal (4/20/93)

David Robinson (2/3/90)

Chris Webber (3/1/94)

Mobley(Sunday night).

-Toronto was without Fred VanVleet(knee), who missed his fifth straight game, and Malachi Flynn(hamstring).

Watch below as Mobley reacts to big win over Raptors:

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’ Osman on loss to Minnesota: ‘We’re upset we lost because we fought really hard’

The Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping to build off Saturday’s win over the Wizards as they hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night.

Of course, Cleveland was still without Darius Garland(back), Caris LeVert(foot), and Rajon Rondo(toe).

After trailing by 23 points in the third, the Cavs(36-25) tied the score at 122 late in the fourth, but Karl-Anthony Towns hit a three with 12.4 seconds left to give Minnesota(33-29) a 127-122 victory at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

With the loss, Cleveland’s eight-game home winning streak was snapped. 

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to Minnesota.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Kevin Love was 2/15 from the floor, including 1/9 from deep in the last two games. He broke out of his little shooting slump Monday night, and he helped lead the comeback. Love scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, including five threes. He also had five rebounds and four assists. 

-Cedi Osman was also big-time off the Cavs’ bench. He scored eight of his 21 points in the fourth and made the game-tying three late in the fourth. Unfortunately, he missed a three with a chance to tie with 04.6 seconds left.

Osman also added five assists and was a huge reason the Cavs had a chance at the end.

-Brandon Goodwin did his job Monday night. He recorded the first double-double of his career with 17 points and a career-high 12 assists. Goodwin also had just one turnover, and he added four rebounds. 

-Jarrett Allen had another efficient night as he had 21 points(9/10 FG) and eight rebounds. 

-Rookie Evan Mobley registered his second straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mobley has three double-doubles in the last four games, and he also had four assists and two blocks Monday night.

First Quarter: Cleveland got off to a great start against the Timberwolves. They shot 52% from the floor and got a big performance from Jarrett Allen, who scored 10 points on 4/5 shooting. In addition, they forced four turnovers, which led to nine points. Ultimately, the Cavs led 37-26 after one quarter.

Fourth Quarter: The Cavs cut Minnesota’s 23-point lead to 13 at the end of the third and continued to battle in the fourth. Cleveland went on a 13-4 run to cut the lead to 105-101, and they went on to tie the game at 122 late in the quarter.

In the final quarter, the Cavs shot 50% from the floor and almost pulled off the comeback.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Second Quarter: The Cavs struggled on the defensive end in the second quarter. Cleveland allowed Minnesota to shoot 68% from the field. The Cavs got a little sloppy with the ball as they turned it over seven times in the quarter, which led to 14 points for the Timberwolves. Minnesota would score 38 points in the quarter and take a 64-61 lead at halftime.

Third Quarter:  After getting outscored by 14 points in the second quarter, Cleveland did not do much better in the third quarter. Minnesota went on a 29-9 run to start the third and took their largest lead of 23 points. The Timberwolves shot 60% from the floor, including 58%(7/12) from three-point range. Minnesota would outscore Cleveland 37-27 in the quarter and took a 101-88 lead into the fourth.

-Turnovers: Cleveland had a season-high-tying 22 turnovers Monday night, which led to 35 points for Minnesota. When you’re down two point guards, this is understandable. However, you have to do a better job protecting the ball.

Defense: Cleveland, who allows a league-best 102.7 ppg, allowed 101 points after three quarters. In addition, Cleveland allowed Minnesota to shoot 55% from the floor, including 18 threes. The Timberwolves scored 50 points in the paint. 

Bottom Line:

The Cavs got close, but they just could not get over the hump against Minnesota. We all know how the Cavs must defend to win without Garland and LeVert, and that did not happen Monday night. To their credit, Cleveland never gave up in this one, but hey, no moral victories for this team; they need wins.

Cleveland(fifth-seed) is now 4.5 games behind the Heat for the top spot in the East, but they may have to worry about what’s behind them. The sixth-seeded Celtics(36-27) are one game behind Cleveland, and the Raptors(33-27), who are the seventh seed, are now 2.5 games behind the Cavs, so Cleveland, despite the injuries, has to win.

“We’re upset we lost because we fought really hard,” Osman said. “I apologize for that last shot. I have to be better in those positions.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs conclude their three-game homestand Wednesday night against the Hornets.

Best of the Rest:

Minnesota had six players in double figures led by D’Angelo Russell’s 25 points, and Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Jaden McDaniels had 17 points apiece.

Cleveland also had six players in double figures.

Watch below as Love reacts to loss to Minnesota:

 

Osman: ‘We’re down a couple of guys, but everybody did their job for us’

After losing three straight, the Cavs came limping back home to battle the Wizards Saturday night. Of course, they were without Darius Garland(back) and Caris LeVert(foot). In addition, they were without Rajon Rondo(toe), who will be out for two weeks.

However, while it wasn’t the prettiest, they found a way to get it done. Cleveland defeated the Wizards 92-86 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland(36-24) snaps their three-game losing streak with the win, and the Wizards(27-33) have lost two straight.

Here’s the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Washington.

The Great for the Cavs:

-For the second consecutive game, Lauri Markkanen led the team in scoring as he had 17 of his 23 points in the second half, including six threes, to go along with six rebounds. Nine of his 17 second-half points came in the fourth. On his 23rd point, Markkanen reached 4,000 career points. He was 2/9 from the floor in the first half, but he was 4/9 from the floor in the second half, including four threes.

-Jarrett Allen played like an All-Star Saturday night. He had 18 points(7/8 FG) and a game-high 14 rebounds. Late in the fourth, the All-Star took over as he scored eight straight points and gave Cleveland the lead for good on a dunk with just over three minutes to go. This was Allen’s 31st double-double of the season, which is a career-high.

-Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff challenged Evan Mobley to do more, and he responded. Mobley had a double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds(career-high-tying five offensive rebounds), and two blocks. 

-Cedi Osman gave Cleveland great production off the bench. He had 12 of his 19 points in the first half. He also added four rebounds and five assists. Osman kept Cleveland in the game in the first half as they trailed 42-40 at the break.

Defense:  It sounds cliche, but defense wins championships, and when you’re down your two best scorers, you have to hang your hat on the defensive end. The Cavs created 18 turnovers, which led to 23 points.

-To steal a phrase from Marc Zumoff, Cleveland locked all windows and doors, especially in the fourth as they held Washington to 16 points on 35% shooting from the floor. More importantly, the Wizards scored only 86 points.

The final 5:50 of the game:– After trailing 84-75(matched Washington’s largest lead of the game) with just under six minutes to go, The Cavs closed out the game on a 17-2 run. During that run, Washington was 1/10 from the floor. Isaac Okoro did a great job on Kyle Kuzma, who had 28 points, including eight after three quarters, but Okoro and the Cavs limited him to six points in the fourth.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Kevin Love struggled for the second straight game. He was 1/10 from the floor, including 0/5 from downtown, and finished with four points. Love is 2/15 from the floor in the last two games, including 1/9 from deep. Without their big guns, Cleveland needs more from Love.

Bottom Line:

It was another ugly win for the Cavs, but winning ugly is beautiful for this team. Cleveland is at their best when they defend, and defense is probably the biggest reason this team has been successful this season.

The Cavs are first in the NBA in opponents’ points per game; in addition, they have held teams below 100 points 24 times this season. 

To the Eastern Conference standings, the Cavs are now the fourth seed and are 3.5 games behind the Heat for the top spot. 

For now, Cleveland has to try to hold on until they get their big guns back.

Ouote:

“We’re down a couple of guys, but everybody did their job for us,” Osman said.

What’s Next:

The Cavs continue their three-game homestand Monday night against the Timberwolves.

Best of the Rest:

-Kuzma led Washington with 34 points and 13 rebounds. 

-Before the game, the Cavs announced that they have signed guard Tim Frazier to a 10-day contract. This season with the Magic, Frazier appeared in 10 games (3 starts), averaging 3.7 points and 3.3 assists in 20.0 minutes per contest.

Watch below as Osman talks win over Wizards:

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Pistons: ‘I didn’t think we had enough players who were locked into doing what we needed to do to win’

Fresh off the All-Star break, the Cleveland Cavaliers came into Detroit to battle the Pistons, missing some serious firepower. Darius Garland(back) and Caris LeVert(foot) were out. LeVert is expected to miss 1-2 weeks, and Garland will undergo treatment and rehabilitation over the next couple of days and his return to basketball activities will be updated as appropriate, according to the team.

Without Garland and LeVert, others had to step up, which unfortunately did not happen. After four Cade Cunningham free throws gave the Pistons a 106-103 lead, Cleveland had three chances to tie the game, but Lauri Markkanen, Brandon Goodwin, and Evan Mobley all missed threes on the final possession, and the Pistons would hold on to defeat the Cavs 106-103 at Little Caesars Arena Thursday night.

The Cavs(35-24) have lost three straight, while the Pistons(14-45) have won two in a row.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Pistons.

The Great for the Cavs:

Lauri Markkanen returned after missing 11 games with an ankle injury and was solid. While he did not shoot it well(6-16 FG), he scored 11 of his 22 points in the fourth and gave Cleveland the lead late with a free throw. He also had six rebounds.

-Brandon Goodwin gave the Cavs a lift off the bench. He had 15 points, four rebounds, and five assists. In the last five games, Goodwin had a combined 19 points. Without Garland, the Cavs needed Goodwin to shine, and he did just that.

-Fight in the fourth: The Cavs got down by as many as 11 points in the fourth but went on a 17-5 run to take a 103-102 lead. During that run, Markkanen scored eight of the 17 points. 

First Quarter: Cleveland got the start they wanted against the Pistons. The Cavs shot 53% from the floor, including 56% from three-point range. Cedi Osman led the way with nine points in the first, and Cleveland had a 33-27 lead after one. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Free throw line:  The Cavs had issues at the line Thursday night. They missed 11 free throws(23/34), and when you’re down two quality players in Garland and LeVert, you need to make your free throws.

Kevin Love/Cedi Osman: Cleveland needed Love to be what he’s been all season long, and unfortunately, that was not the case Thursday night. Love was 1/5 from the floor and finished with four points and five rebounds off the bench. In addition, Osman was scoreless in the final three quarters after scoring nine points in the first. Combined, Osman and Love were 3/12 from the field.

Fourth Quarter:  The Cavs took an 82-80 lead into the fourth, but Cleveland went cold. They were 7/20(35%) from the floor, including 3/10 from deep. Detroit led by as many as 11 in the quarter, which was their largest lead of the game. Cleveland took a 103-102 lead with just over a minute to go. However, the Pistons closed out the game on a 4-0 run. 

Bottom Line:

Cleveland had struggled before the break, and they struggled Thursday night. The Cavs usually handle their business against bad teams, and coming into this game; they were 19-9 against sub .500 teams. 

However, this is Cleveland’s second straight loss to the Pistons. 

While the loss is understandable, it’s not acceptable, especially with the Cavs in the middle of a tight playoff race.

As for the Eastern Conference standings, the fifth-seeded Cavs are now tied with the fourth-seeded Bucks(35-24). They are one game ahead of the sixth-seeded Celtics(35-26) and two games ahead of the seventh-seed, the Toronto Raptors(32-25).

We all know this team is young, and we know they don’t have their best scorers, but the goals and objectives of this season have now changed, and at this point, every game matters.

We know LeVert could be out 1-2 weeks, but Garland seems as if he will be in and out of the lineup the rest of the way. According to Bickerstaff, the All-Star Game did not impact Garland’s availability, but in hindsight, maybe they could have reduced his minutes. Garland played 24 minutes in that contest. However, he did earn that opportunity, so it’s understandable.

“I didn’t think we had enough players who were locked into doing what we needed to do to win the game,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “What’s disappointing is that I felt like that’s how we went into the break and now how we are coming out of it.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland will return home Saturday night to play the Wizards as they begin a three-game homestand at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Best of the Rest:

-Detroit had six players in double figures led by Hamidou Diallo 21 points; Cade Cunningham added 17 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Jerami Grant and Marvin Bagley III chipped in with 16 points apiece.

-Cleveland also had six players in double figures, including all five starters. Evan Mobley and Rajon Rondo had 12 points apiece. Rondo added nine assists and Mobley chipped in with eight rebounds and three blocks. 

Listen below as Markkanen reacts to the loss to the Pistons:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Caris(LeVert) is a complete player’

The Cleveland Cavaliers love to have 20-plus point deficits against the Indiana Pacers. Last Sunday night, Indiana led Cleveland by as many as 20 points, and the Cavs stormed back to defeat them 98-85 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

On Friday night in Indiana, the Cavs trailed by as many as 21 points to the Pacers in the second quarter, and like they did last Sunday, Cleveland battled back and defeated the Pacers 120-113 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. 

This was the Cavs largest comeback victory of the season.

Cleveland had seven players in double figures Friday night. 

The Cavs(35-21) have now won four straight and 13 of 16, while the Pacers(19-38) have lost five straight.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Pacers.

The Great for the Cavs:

Caris LeVert, in his first game back in Indiana since the trade, got the start at point guard for the injured Darius Garland(back), and he made play after play down the stretch. He scored eight(4-4 FG) of his team-high tying 22 points in the fourth. LeVert scored those eight fourth-quarter points in crunch time. Cleveland trailed 109-105, and LeVert cut it to two with just under five minutes to go, and after a Rajon Rondo three gave the Cavs a 110-109 lead, LeVert scored six straight points for the Cavs. That’s how you close a game. LeVert also added five assists, three steals, and a block.

Make it four straight double-doubles for Jarret Allen. He had 22 points and 14 rebounds. In the last four games, he’s averaging 20.2 points and 16.7 rebounds. Unfortunately, we can’t call Allen an All-star, but we can say he’s playing like one.

Rajon Rondo was a calming presence Friday night. He made all the right plays. The four-time All-Star had a season-high 17 points(6/7 FG), 10 which came in the fourth, seven rebounds, six assists, and three steals. LeVert was good, but they don’t win this game without Rondo, who gave the Cavs their first lead of the game when he hit a three to put Cleveland up 110-109 with just over four minutes left in the fourth.  

Fourth Quarter: After falling behind by 16 points late in the third, Cleveland went on a 10-2 run to get the deficit under ten as they trailed 96-88, heading into the fourth. In the fourth, the Cavs picked it up. Rondo and LeVert combined for 18 of the team’s 32 points in the final period. Anytime you make a large comeback, you need your defense and Cleveland defended. They held Indiana to 32% shooting from the floor, including 2/11 from three-point range, and created eight turnovers leading to 13 points. Cleveland outscored Indiana 32-17 in the quarter.

Second-Half Defense: Cleveland allowed a season-high 74 first-half points Friday night, but things got better in the second half. The Cavs held the Pacers to 39 points in the half. Indiana was on fire in the first half as they shot 61% from the floor, including 63%(12/19) from downtown. However, Cleveland held Indiana to 33% shooting from the field in the second half. In addition, they created 12 of Indiana’s 23 turnovers in the second half, which led to 19 points. In total, Cleveland scored 28 points off turnovers. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Quarter:  The Pacers could not miss in the first quarter. They shot 71% from the field, including `10/12(83%) from three-point range. Cleveland allowed a season-high 47 points in the first. After one, Indiana led 47-28 and took a 74-63 lead at halftime.

In the last four games, all wins, Cleveland has been outscored by a combined 44 points in the first quarter, so that’s something they have to fix going forward. 

Bottom Line:

LeVert showed he could be a closer Friday night. He was able to get anywhere he wanted on the court and showed that he is a “bucket.” Also, give credit to Rondo, who also rescued this team in the second half.

Cleveland did not play its best game without their best player(Garland), but they found ways to get it done. Learning how to get the victory when you’re not at your best is what the better teams in the NBA do, and Cleveland is just that, one of the better in the league.

The Cavs(second seed) are now one game behind the Heat for the top spot in the East as they have a big one against Philadelphia Saturday night.

“Caris(LeVert) is a complete player,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “He’s not just an offensive player. He knew what we needed to get it done.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs continue their three-game road trip before the All-Star break in Philly Saturday night against the 76ers, in the first of four games against Philadelphia this season.

Best of the Rest:

Kevin Love and Cedi Osman added 14 points apiece off the bench for Cleveland. Love also recorded his 7,000th point as a member of the Cavs Friday night; he became the ninth player to accomplish the feat in team history. Dean Wade chipped in with 13 points, and Isaac Okoro had 10.

Indiana had six players in double figures led by Tyrese Haliburton’s 23 points; Chris Duarte and Oshae Brissett had 18 points apiece.

The Pacers were 18/38(47%) from three-point range.

Watch below as LeVert reacts to the win over the Pacers: