Cavs’ Garland: ‘It’s next-man-up mentality’

Health and safety protocols have been the talk of the sports world right now, and it has impacted the Cleveland Cavaliers. On Wednesday against the Celtics, Cleveland had seven players out due to health and protocols, including three starters, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Isaac Okoro.

However, just like they always do, the Cavaliers fought, but they were outmanned and outgunned by the Celtics, and they fell 111-101 at TD Garden.

Boston led by five after one and took a 63-48 lead at halftime. The Celtics took their largest lead of 23 points in the third, but Cleveland went on a 14-1 run to cut the lead to 10 in the fourth, but it wasn’t enough.

With the loss, Cleveland’s(19-13) six-game winning streak is over, while Boston(16-16) moved to .500.

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

The Great for the Cleveland Cavaliers:

-Darius Garland led the Cavaliers with 28 points and six assists. He also had three steals. Coming into this game, Garland led the league in plus/minus, and while this is not a great thing, he was a team-best -6 Wednesday night.

-Kevin Love had a double-double with 18 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Love has scored in double figures in eight straight games, and he has been in double figures 10 out of the last 11. 

-Tacko Fall, yes, Tacko Fall. He got his first NBA start in the city where it all began for him. Fall was originally signed by the Celtics after going undrafted and spent two seasons in Boston. On Wednesday, Fall had four points, 10 rebounds, and blocked two shots in 19 minutes of action. 

The Not so Great for the Cleveland Cavaliers:

Three-point shooting: Cleveland was 9/38 from downtown. Lauri Markkanen was 0/5, Love was 1/5, and Cedi Osman was 1/5 from deep.

Turnovers: Cleveland had 16 turnovers, which led to 19 Boston points. Turnovers are expected when you are trying to integrate new players. However, this has been an ongoing issue as they are 26th in turnovers per game(14.6).

-Lauri Markkanen struggled with his shot as he was 2/12 from the field, including 0/5 from deep. He finished with seven points and nine rebounds.

-Ricky Rubio, who got the start for Okoro, also was 2/12 from the field and 1/5 from downtown. He had a game-worst -20 rating.  Rubio had eight points, six assists, and three steals.

Bottom Line:

Boston had their two best players in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, so they had a clear advantage Wednesday night. According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the league has no plans to press the pause button on the season, but should they? Around the league, stars are missing games, and we are seeing a lot of G League talent on NBA basketball courts, and while it’s a great thing for those players, it’s probably not good for the product on the court. 

“It’s next-man-up mentality,” Garland said postgame.

What’s Next:

Cleveland will have a few days off as they return to the court Sunday at home against Toronto.

Best of the Rest:

Four out of Boston’s five starters scored in double figures, led by Jaylen Brown’s 34 points and six rebounds. Robert Williams III added 21 points and a team-high 11 rebounds,  a game-high seven assists, and two blocks, and Jayson Tatum chipped in with 18 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. 

40-year-old Joe Johnson, who signed a 10-day contract with Boston, made his debut late in the fourth and scored two points.

-Osman added 13 points off the bench for Cleveland.

Watch below as Fall and Garland react to the loss to Boston:

Cavs’ Rubio on injuries: ‘We can’t be complaining about this guy being out or that guy’

Beating a team twice in a two-game set is very difficult, and it becomes even harder when you are down many of your key players. That is what the Cavaliers had to do on Monday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse as they concluded their two-game set against the Boston Celtics. 

Coming into this game, Cleveland had won two straight and six of their last seven.

Cleveland, who overcame a 19-point deficit to beat the Celtics on Saturday night, was already missing Lauri Markkanen(Return To Competition Reconditioning), Kevin Love(Return To Competition Reconditioning), Collin Sexton(knee), Lamar Stevens(Ankle), and Jarrett Allen(Illness). They would also lose rookie Evan Mobley(elbow) early in the fourth. 

The Cavaliers(9-6) trailed by as much as nine points in the fourth and got within one late in the game, but Boston’s Dennis Schroder hit two big shots and stretched the Celtics lead to five, and Cleveland would fall to Boston(7-7) 98-92.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottomline of the Cavs’ loss to Boston:

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Cedi Osman scored 12 of his 26 points, including four of his game-high six threes in the fourth. He also dished out five assists off the Cavaliers’ bench. The five-year veteran is giving the Cavs great minutes off the bench this season, and he is shooting a career-high 42% from three-point range. 

-Ricky Rubio scored 26 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, including 14 in the third quarter. Rubio got the start for Cleveland. He also added six rebounds and two assists on Monday. He, like Osman, kept the Cavs in this game, and was making array of shots off the dribble.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

-Evan Mobley: Mama said there would be days like this, and Mobley, who started at center for the injured Allen, had an off day for the Cavs. He was 0/11 from the floor and scored only two points, but he did have nine rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Mobley will learn from this one as Boston’s Al Horford defended him very well. 

On Tuesday, the Cavs announced that Mobley would be out 2-4 weeks after an MRI confirmed that he had a sprained right elbow. According to the team, Mobley will now undergo a period of treatment and rehabilitation.

Shooting: Cleveland shot 38.6% from the field on Monday night, but they did shoot 40% from downtown, so it wasn’t all bad. 

Bottom Line:

Both teams were playing their third game in four nights on Monday, and it showed.

Cleveland would’ve had to play better than they did on Saturday night to get this one, and without their key players, including Mobley, defeating Boston was going to be tough.

Mobley going down is a significant loss for the Cavaliers. He was playing so well. Hopefully, they can get Markkanen and Love back soon. Cleveland battled injuries all last season and is struggling with injuries now, but this is a resilient bunch, so expect this team to fight. 

“Hopefully, the guys who are out get healthy and recover fast,” Rubio said postgame. “We are who we are. Tonight, nine players played. If we have to play with five players we will. We can’t be complaining about this guy being out or that guy. At the end of the day, everybody goes through a lot of stuff.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland, who went 2-2 on their four-game homestand, goes to Brooklyn to battle the Nets before returning home for another four-game homestand.

Best of the Rest:

-Darius Garland had 17 points, including three threes on Monday night; Isaac Okoro had a bounce-back performance for Cleveland as he had 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists. On Saturday, Okoro was 0/7 and finished with two points.

-Boston’s Jayson Tatum scored 23 points, and in his return from a back injury, Horford added 17 points and nine rebounds.

Watch below as Osman and Rubio react to Cleveland’s loss to Boston:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Boston: ‘There is no basketball reason why we should have won’

With 3:06 left in the third quarter, the Cleveland Cavaliers trailed the Boston Celtics 72-53. However, Cleveland outscored Boston 38-17 the rest of the way and would defeat Boston 91-89 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Saturday night.

After losing to Washington on Wednesday night, Cleveland(9-5) has now won two straight. Boston’s(6-7) two-game winning streak was snapped on Saturday night.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of Cleveland’s big win over Boston.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Evan Mobley has been exceptional in the first 14 games of his career, and after a slow start, he was outstanding on Saturday night. Mobley scored 12 of his 19 points in the fourth. He added nine rebounds, three blocks, and two steals. He made big shots down the stretch and made great plays on defense, including this block on Jayson Tatum.

In addition, according to the Cavs, Mobley became the fastest player in team history to reach 200 points and 100 rebounds.

-Darius Garland led the Cavs with a season-high 22 points to go along with six assists and four rebounds. Garland also hit the game-winning free throws after he was fouled by Marcus Smart on his drive to the basket with 09.4 seconds left. It was Garland’s second straight game with 20-plus points and six-plus assists.

-Cedi Osman brought energy and effort off the bench against Boston. He scored all nine of his points in the fourth. Osman, who played the whole fourth quarter, also had three rebounds, two steals, and a block in the final period. 

-Ricky Rubio also was big-time off the Cavs’ bench. He did not shoot it that well from the field(4/17 FG), but he did score four of his 16 points and had five of his seven assists in the final quarter, including a beautiful lob pass to Jarrett Allen to give the Cavs an 89-87 lead with 35.4 seconds left in the game. Rubio also added five rebounds.

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland trailed by as many as 19 in the third but cut it to 12, heading into the fourth. The Cavs went on an 11-0 run to start the final period to cut the lead to one. Led by the lineup of Mobley, Rubio, Osman, Denzel Valentine, and Dylan Windler, Cleveland scrapped, clawed and got back into the game. Ultimately, Garland and Allen returned to put the Cavs over the top. The Cavaliers outscored the Celtics 25-15 in the final period, and Boston shot only 30%  from the field.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

The First Three Quarters: Boston held the Cavaliers to only nine points in the first quarter on 15% shooting from the field and six turnovers, which led to 11 Celtic points. The second quarter was a little better for Cleveland, but they trailed 52-38 at halftime. The Cavs did outscore the Celtics by two in the third, but they were down as many as 19 that quarter. 

-Isaac Okoro was 0/7 from the field and finished with two points in 18 minutes of action.

Bottom Line:

What an amazing comeback by the never-say-die Cavaliers. They definitely should have lost this game, but they found a way, and it appears this team has the heart, the scrap, and the toughness to keep finding a way.

“There is no basketball reason why we should have won, but there was a collective spirit,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame.

What’s Next:

Cleveland battles the Celtics again at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday night as they conclude their four-game homestand.

Best of the Rest:

-Boston’s Dennis Schroder had a game-high 28 points; Jayson Tatum had 21 points, and Robert Williams added 12 points, a game-high 16 rebounds, and three blocks.

-Jarrett Allen chipped in with 11 points and eight rebounds for the Cavaliers.

-Both teams were missing key pieces as Boston was without Jaylen Brown(hamstring), Al Horford(back), and Josh Richardson(knee). Cleveland was still without Kevin Love(Reconditioning) and Lauri Markkanen(Health and Safety Protocols), and they were missing reserve Lamar Stevens.

Watch below as Garland, Mobley, and Osman react to Cleveland’s big win over Boston:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton: ‘There’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight’

He’s back and better than ever! After missing five games due to a sprained ankle, Cavaliers G Collin Sexton returned on Wednesday night against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, who had their Big 3 of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving together for the first time.

However, Sexton was the biggest star on Wednesday night. The third-year guard scored 20 straight points, including 15 points in the second overtime and finished with a career-high 42 points as the Cavaliers(7-7) defeated the Nets(9-7) at home 147-135 in double overtime. 

Sexton out-dueled Irving last night, who returned after missing seven games and scored 37 points for Brooklyn. Sexton took over the game in OT, and according to his head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, not many players in the NBA could have done what Sexton did against Brooklyn. 

“Collin(Sexton) has proven time and time again against all his doubters is he’s not afraid of the big moments,” Bickerstaff said. “He likes pressure-filled moments. Not everybody in our league has the courage to do what he did tonight. Not everyone in our league have the ability to do what he did tonight… 

“Collin Sexton brought us home tonight, and again, people can say what they want to say about him, but there’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight.”

Cavs’ Cedi Osman, who scored 25 points on Wednesday night, added this about Sexton: “That was a hell of an effort, man. He had 20 straight points. He played great; he played out of his mind. It was amazing. I don’t know what to say.” 

Even Irving enjoyed what he saw from Sexton.

“You gotta love NBA ball, though,” he said. “I was smiling when Collin Sexton was making those shots.”

Irving and Sexton will forever be linked. The former Cavalier was traded to Boston in 2017. In that deal, Cleveland was able to secure a first round pick, which turned into Sexton. After the game, Sexton acknowledged his connection to Irving.

“I am in Cleveland,” he said. “I wear number 2, and I do wear Kyrie’s(sneakers), so you know that’s definitely going to be linked together, so I just gotta take it.”

Sexton was terrific last night, and before the injury, was playing at a high level. What he is doing thus far this season is not a surprise. However, the way Cleveland is playing this season, especially when you consider the injuries, is impressive. Once they get fully healthy(Darius Garland and Kevin Love), they could be a team in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

 

ESPN’s Amin Elhassan on Celtics’ Horford: ‘He’s been the backbone of a lot of their success'(Video)

When the season ended for the Boston Celtics, many believed that Kyrie Irving had played his last game with the team. Irving, who will be an unrestricted free agent, had reportedly been unhappy in Boston for most of the season, so him wanting out of Boston is not that much of a surprise. However, what surprised many was the report that Al Horford, who has a player option for next season, may opt out of the final year of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent. Horford is scheduled to make $30.1 million in 2019-20.

While the 33-year-old Horford may opt out of his contract, reports are that he and the Celtics could come together on a multi-year deal. However, Horford should garner a lot of interest on the open market, and according to ESPN’s Amin Elhassan, Horford could be harder to replace than Irving.

“I think he’s(Kyrie Irving) going to move on. I think the Celtics have known that he’s going to move on for quite a while,” Elhassan recently told Paul Gant. “I don’t think that was as unexpected to them as the Al Horford stuff. That’s the kick in the gut for them because you are talking about a guy who they thought they could lock in at a lower number for a few more years. Now, it looks like he’s looking to leave. He’s been the backbone of a lot of their success there. Defensively, he has been their best player, and offensively, such a high IQ player. To lose him, I think that would be difficult to replace piece for the Celtics.”

Horford, with his versatility, would be harder to replace, and losing him would hurt the team. Therefore, it’s imperative that Boston does whatever it can to keep him around.

Listen below as Elhassan talks Celtics, 76ers, Rockets, Warriors, and more:

Stephen A. Smith believes Kyrie Irving should test free agency(VIDEO)

The Boston Celtics are one of the favorites in Eastern Conference, especially with the return of their two best players, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward. With LeBron James out of the East, and if Boston stays healthy, there is a good shot they get to the NBA Finals.

Arguably, the Celtics best player is Irving, and the five-time All-Star can become a free agent at the end of the season, but the 26-year-old Irving recently told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols that he wants to stay in Boston.

However, according to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, even though Irving is happy in Boston, he should still test free agency.

Listen below:

Last season, Irving missed the playoffs due to a knee injury.

It would not hurt for Irving to see what is out there, especially if he confident in his ability to stay healthy. In my opinion, he should test free agency. It’s always good to have options in life, and by becoming a free agent, Irving would have options.

Stephen A. Smith warns Boston about the new look Raptors(VIDEO)

After LeBron James decided to leave Cleveland to play with the Lakers, the East has become wide open. The Raptors, who were the number one seed in Eastern Conference last season, should be better after acquiring Kawhi Leonard. The Philadelphia 76ers have two cornerstone players in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, and the Boston Celtics will get back maybe their two best players in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving.

“Oh, we’re getting to the Finals. No question about it,” Celtics’ Jaylen Brown told CJ McCollum’s “Pull Up” podcast.

Brown is confident, and the Celtics are confident, but Toronto with Leonard is going to be tough beat, so says ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith.

Listen below as Smith talks Raptors and Celtics:

The East will come down to Boston, Philly, and Toronto with the Celtics being the favorite, but there are no guarantees that the Celtics won’t have any chemistry issues next season. With the return of Hayward and Irving, guys who were getting a lot of minutes last year, won’t be getting those same type of minutes next season. Therefore, that is something to keep an eye on going into the 2018-19 NBA season.

Ex-NBA player Bender: ‘LeBron has had a cakewalk over the years through the East’

For the last seven years, LeBron James has dominated the Eastern Conference . Since the 2010-11 season, a LeBron James led team has represented the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Whether he is with the Heat or Cavaliers, James has found a way to get to the NBA Finals.

Now, with the emergence of the 76ers and Celtics, LeBron’s reign over the Eastern Conference could be coming to an end, according to former NBA player Jonathan Bender.

LeBron has had a cakewalk over the years through the East,” Bender told the Go4it podcast. “Within the next couple years, it’s going to be shut down because of the teams that’s coming up. Like Philadelphia coming on board. Obviously, what Boston has in the arsenal right now.”

LeBron’s run through the Eastern Conference has been impressive, but the past few seasons have been relatively easy. In the last three seasons, Cleveland is 12-3 in the Eastern Conference Finals. None of the teams they beat(Hawks, Raptors, and Celtics) had a realistic chance to beat the Cavaliers.

Regarding the end of LeBron’s dominance over the Eastern Conference, that could end this year now that Cleveland is down 2-0 to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Moving forward, the Celtics have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward coming back. Plus, they have the Sacramento Kings 2019 first-round pick. Philly has Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Markelle Fultz. Also, they have a ton of cap space, and they have the 10th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

Actually, LeBron might still be able to run the East if he decides to sign with Philly, which could happen, but we’ll have to wait until the summer to figure that all out.

In the end, if LeBron decides to stay in Cleveland, his dominance of the Eastern Conference is probably over.

 

 

Paul Pierce: ‘I’m not sure if I want to see an Isaiah(Thomas) video that night'(watch)

Paul Pierce is not sure he wants a video tribute of Isaiah Thomas on his night. On February 11, Pierce’s number 34 will be retired by the Celtics.

Thomas, who went back to Boston as a member of the Cavaliers last night, but did not play, requested that the Celtics not give him a video tribute until the Cavaliers return to Boston on February 11.

Pierce talked about what he thinks should happen today on ESPN’s The Jump:

“On February 11, the night I get my jersey retirement, I’m not sure I want to look up at the jumbotron and see Isaiah highlights. After all the years I put in.

“I had a chance to watch Kobe’s, and throughout the game, the timeouts, it was a lot of tribute videos for him, and I enjoyed to watch that throughout the game. Now hopefully, the Boston Celtics will do that for me.”

“I’m not sure if I want to see an Isaiah video that night.”

Listen to what Pierce had to say:

Twitter reacts to Gordon Hayward’s injury

A tough opening night in the NBA. The Celtics’ Gordon Hayward went down with a gruesome leg injury in the first quarter against the Cavaliers in Cleveland on Tuesday night.

The injury was bad!

Here is how Twitter reacted:

 

https://twitter.com/WittLowry/status/920453166172377088