Cavs’ Sexton out for season with torn meniscus

Cavaliers guard Collin Sexton is out for the season with a torn left meniscus, the team announced on Friday night.

The fourth-year guard sustained a season-ending left knee injury earlier this month against the Knicks. According to the Cavs, Sexton underwent successful surgery in Atlanta on Wednesday to repair the meniscus tear.

Before the injury, Sexton, in 11 games, was averaging 16.0 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per contest.

Sexton, 22, hoped to get an extension this offseason, but the two sides could not agree. He will be a restricted free agent at season’s end. Hopefully, he can fully recover and put himself in a position to get a new contract with Cleveland or elsewhere.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We know where we can go’

Don’t look now, but the Cleveland Cavaliers appear to be for real. On Sunday night at Madison Square Garden against the Knicks(6-4), the Cavaliers got a fantastic performance from Ricky Rubio, who had a double-double with a career-high 37 points to go along with 10 assists, as Cleveland defeated New York 126-109.

The Cavs(7-4) have now won four straight, including three consecutive wins on the road.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and Bottom Line of Cleveland’s big win in New York City.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Ricky Rubio was excellent last night. Rubio scored 26 of his career-high 37 points in the second half and dished out 10 assists off the bench. Rubio was 13/19 from the field, including career-high eight threes on 8/9 from downtown. Rubio, who started the third quarter for an injured Collin Sexton, was 4/4 from downtown in the third quarter and scored 12 points, and he added 14 more points in the fourth. 

According to StatMuse, Rubio is the first player in NBA history with 30-plus points, 10-plus assists, eight-plus threes in a game off the bench.

-Rookie Evan Mobley was also excellent last night. In his debut at MSG, Mobley had a career-high 26 PTS (11-15 FG, 2-4 3FG), nine rebounds, five assists, a steal, and a block. According to the Cavs, he is the first rookie to record 26-plus points, nine-plus rebounds, five-plus assists, and 73% from the field in a single game since Blake Griffin.

-Jarrett Allen is earning all his money and then some. He scored 18 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds. Allen was also named Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday for the first time in his career. During the Cavs’  winning streak, Allen is averaging 20.5 points on .633 shooting from the field, an NBA-best 16.3 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 1.3 blocks in 37.0 minutes per contest. He was the only player in the NBA to average at least 20.0 points and 15.0 rebounds last week and had the highest field goal percentage among any NBA player who averaged 20 points or more.

-Darius Garland added 15 points(4/5 3PT) and dished out five assists.

-Third Quarter: Cleveland trailed 57-56 at halftime. However, they outscored New York 33 to 18 in the third quarter. The Cavaliers shot 57% from the field, including (6/7)85% from downtown. They held the Knicks to 32% shooting, including(1/9) 11% from three-point range. The Cavs took an 89-75 lead into the fourth.

Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Collin Sexton left in the second quarter with a knee injury, and on Monday, it was revealed that he had a meniscus tear in his left knee. At this point, he will undergo an additional evaluation, after which time his status will be updated.

-Cleveland had 17 turnovers on Sunday night. That number is too high, but they can worry about that another night.

Bottom Line:

The Cavaliers have beaten some good teams this season on the road, including wins over the Knicks, Nuggets, Raptors, and Clippers, which is impressive. Now, they have an opportunity to rack up some more wins as eight of their next nine games are at home. 

Hopefully, going forward, they can get Kevin Love(Health and Safety Protocols), Lauri Markkanen(Health and Safety Protocols), and Isaac Okoro(hamstring) back soon.

“We know where we can go,” Bickerstaff said. “There’s a depth to this team that we know we can get to. That’s all about the scrap. That’s how we turn it up.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home Wednesday night against the Wizards.

Best of the Rest:

On Sunday night, the Knicks had six players in double figures led by Julius Randle, who scored 19 points to go along with seven rebounds and seven assists; Derrick Rose added 17 points and five assists.

Listen below as Mobley, Allen, and Rubio react to Cleveland’s win over the Knicks:

Cavs’ Mobley: ‘We’re getting more and more confident every game’

For forty-seven minutes and fifty-five seconds, the Cleveland Cavaliers trailed the Toronto Raptors. However, after Darius Garland was fouled driving to the basket with 04.8 seconds left, he made two free throws to give the Cavs a 102-101 lead. 

The Raptors(6-4) had one more chance, but OG Anunoby missed a turnaround shot, Scottie Barnes missed a tip-in, and Cleveland held on to win 102-101 at Scotiabank Arena.

Cleveland(6-4) has now won three straight and six out of their last eight, and they snapped Toronto’s five-game winning streak. 

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Toronto.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Cleveland had five players in double-figures led by Darius Garland. The third-year guard got it done in the second half. He scored 17 of his team-high 21 points, including 12 in the fourth. He also added a team-high eight assists, and of course, he hit the game-winning free throws.  

-Jarrett Allen continues to play well. Allen had a double-double with 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, to go along with two steals, and a block. Allen even made bank-shot three late in fourth with the shot clock winding down that tied the game at 94. During Cleveland’s three-game win streak, he is averaging 21.3 points (.676 FG%), 16.0 rebounds, 1.33 steals, and 1.67 blocks per game.

-Evan Mobley was stellar on Friday night as he went up against Toronto’s rookie sensation Scottie Barnes. Mobley had 18 points, five rebounds, and two assists.

After 10 games, Mobley has been outstanding. 

He has registered 138 points, 79 rebounds, 23 assists, 10 steals, and 14 blocks. According to The Athletic, only three other players in NBA history have recorded such minimums in their first ten career games: Lamar Odom, Mychal Thompson, Bill Walton.

-Cedi Osman has been great off Cleveland’s bench, and he was excellent against Toronto. He scored 17 points, including five three-pointers. Osman is shooting 59%(13/22) from downtown during Cleveland’s three-game winning streak.

Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Collin Sexton struggled on Friday night. He finished 4/17 from the field with nine points.

Turnovers: While Cleveland continues to win, they have to do a better job protecting the ball. The Cavs had 19 turnovers against Toronto.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland did not play their best basketball on Friday night, but a good team finds a way to win games when they are not at their best, so maybe the Cavs are turning into a good team. In addition, good teams win on the road, and after ten games, Cleveland is 4-3 on the road. What makes this win even more impressive is they are missing three key players in Lauri Markkanen(Health and Safety Protocols), Kevin Love(Health and Safety Protocols), and Isaac Okoro(hamstring).

“We’re getting more and more confident every game,” Mobley said. “The chemistry is building every game.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland travels to New York to battle the Knicks on Sunday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Anunoby led Toronto with 23 points; Fred VanVleet had 18 points, six assists, and six rebounds; Barnes had 14 points, nine rebounds, and four assists, and Gary Trent Jr. chipped in with 17.

-Cleveland’s Ricky Rubio had 11 points, five rebounds, and four assists.

-Cleveland leads the NBA in contested shots(570) and have two players in the top five in that category.

NBA LEADERS – TOTAL CONTESTED SHOTS (as of Saturday 11/6/21) 

1. EVAN MOBLEY 159

2. JARRETT ALLEN 118

3. G.Antetokounmpo 115

4. M.Bamba 110

5. D.Sabonis 109

Listen below as Mobley, Garland, and Allen react to win over Raptors:

Cavs’ Allen: ‘We’re having fun and we’re playing the right way’

Coming off a 3-2 road trip, the Cleveland Cavaliers were happy to be back at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday night against the Blazers(3-5).

Cleveland led by as many as 11 points in the fourth. However, Portland cut it to one with over eight minutes left.  The Cavaliers never surrendered the lead and survived after Damian Lillard missed a game-tying three at the buzzer to defeat Portland 107-104 for their second straight win.

After starting 0-2, Cleveland(5-4) has won five of their last seven.

The Cavs had six players in double figures for the second game in the row.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Jarrett Allen again was huge for the Cavaliers. He had team-highs in points(24) and rebounds(17). Allen made plays in the paint and scored eight straight points for the Cavs in the fourth after the Blazers cut the lead to one.

Allen had 24 points and 16 rebounds against Charlotte on Monday night.

-Darius Garland had a double-double with 19 points and 10 assists. The third-year guard was 5/6 from three-point range. Cleveland had 29 assists on Wednesday night

-Evan Mobley recorded his second consecutive double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. According to the Cavs, Mobley became just the fifth Cavs rookie since 2002-03 to accomplish that feat. In addition, Mobley had a block, and it was a big block on Lillard late in the fourth quarter.

Mobley is the only rookie with three double-doubles this season.

-Collin Sexton, the team’s leading scorer, had an efficient night as he went 8/13 from the field and finished 21 points.

-Cleveland shot 53% from the field and 15-30 from downtown on Wednesday night, both season-highs. 

-Dylan Windler and Cedi Osman were huge off the Cavs’ bench. Windler had 13 points, including 3/3 from three-point range, while Osman added 12 points with four threes.

Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

Cleveland had 19 turnovers on Wednesday night, which led to 31 Blazer points. 

Bottom Line:

The Cavaliers may have turned the corner after starting the season 0-2. The five-game road trip has given this team a lot of confidence. Without Lauri Markkanen(Health & Safety Protocols), Kevin Love(Health & Safety Protocols), and Isaac Okoro(hamstring), other players stepped up. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has the team playing with much energy and effort.

“We’re having fun and we’re playing the right way,” Allen said. “We’re just going out and playing basketball together.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland goes back on the road to battle the Raptors on Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 26 points on 10/27 shooting; Norman Powell scored 23 points, and C.J. McCollum added 21 points.

Sexton, Garland, and Allen react to win over Blazers:

Cavs’ Allen: ‘We want people to look at us and say, ‘We need to bring our A game’

Winning on the road is always tricky in the NBA and even more difficult for a young team. However, on Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers(4-4) ended their successful road trip with a victory.

The Cavaliers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 113-110 at Spectrum Center to end their five-game road trip 3-2. 

Cleveland led by as many as 19 points on Monday night, including a season-high 40-point first quarter. The Cavaliers had six players in double figures. Charlotte(5-3) got back into the game and threatened late, but it wasn’t enough.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Hornets.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Jarrett Allen set the tone for Cleveland on Monday night. He led the Cavaliers with a team-high 24 points(9/13 FG) and a game-high 16 rebounds. Allen had 15 points in the first quarter, which is a new career-high in points in a quarter. 

-Evan Mobley finished the five-game road trip on a high note after scoring only two points against Phoenix on Saturday night. The rookie had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mobley also added two steals and a block.

First-quarter: Cleveland scored a season-high 40 points in the quarter. They shot 51% from the field. They forced eight Hornets’ turnovers, which led to 12 Cleveland points.

-Lauri Markkanen had season-highs in points(21) and blocks(3). He also grabbed eight rebounds against Charlotte, and while he did not shoot(7/19 FG) it well on Monday, he did impact the game in other areas.

-Cedi Osman was great for the Cavs off the bench. He scored 13 points(4/5 from three-point range). Cleveland needed others to step up without Kevin Love(Health & Safety Protocols) and Isaac Okoro(hamstring), and Osman did just that.

-Defense: Cleveland set season highs in steals (12) and blocks (8). 

Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

-Cleveland had 16 turnovers against Charlotte. The Cavs have to do a better job of protecting the ball.

Bottom Line:

What an excellent trip for Cleveland. They beat three playoff teams from a year ago(Hornets, Clippers, Nuggets) and were in a position to beat the Lakers and Suns. On paper, you thought the Cavs would maybe get one game on this trip, but they got three wins, and now they go home happy.

“Over the past few years it’s been like, ‘Oh, it’s the Cavs, it’s an off night.’ I’m just being honest, that’s how people looked at us,” Allen said. “But know we want people to look at us and say, ‘We need to bring our A game.'”

What’s next:

The Cavaliers head home to battle the Blazers on Wednesday night.

Best of the Rest:

Collin Sexton had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Darius Garland added 16 points, four assists, and three steals.

Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball had 30 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, and Terry Rozier had 23 and six rebounds.

Cavs’ Mobley: ‘I feel like I’m pretty ahead of schedule so far’

The Cleveland Cavaliers’ three-game winning streak was snapped on Friday night as they fell to LeBron James and the Lakers 113-101 at Staples Center.

The game was tied at 54 at halftime, but the Lakers(3-3) pulled away in the fourth quarter to get the victory.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and Bottom Line of Cleveland’s loss to the Lakers.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Evan Mobley is the real deal. The rookie had a team-high 23 points and snatched six rebounds, and three assists in a team-high 36 minutes of action. This kid does not appear to get rattled, and according to him, he’s ahead of schedule, which could be scary for the rest of the league.

“I feel like I’m getting adjusted to the NBA pretty fast,” Mobley said postgame. “I feel like I’m pretty ahead of schedule so far.”

-Darius Garland had a double-double with 18 points and 11 assists(six turnovers). It was Garland’s second double-double of the season. 

-Lauri Markkanen had a season-high 17 points(7/14 FG) on Friday night, which included a season-high three three-pointers. Markkanen has struggled with his shot(30.5 FG%) thus far this season, so it’s good to see him put the ball in the basket.

-Ricky Rubio continues to bring it every night. He had 18 points, six rebounds, and four assists off the bench. What an acquisition for this team.  It’s early, but if Rubio keeps playing at this level, he could be in the discussion for Sixth-Man of the Year.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

-Fourth-quarter: Cleveland trailed 88-85, heading into the fourth quarter. However, they went completely cold in the fourth. They shot 4/18(22%) from the field and were outscored 25-16 in the quarter. The Cavs took their last lead of 91-90 with just under eight minutes left, but the Lakers would go on a 10-0 run, and Cleveland never threatened after that.

-Defense: One of the reasons Cleveland won three straight was their defense. The Cavaliers held teams below 90 points and below 410% shooting from the floor in those three wins. However, the Lakers scored 113 points with 55% shooting. Los Angeles also had 60 points in the paint.

-After scoring 26 points against the Clippers on Wednesday night, Collin Sexton, the team’s leading scorer, was a non-factor against Los Angeles. He scored 9 points on 2/9 shooting.

Bottom Line:

This was not a bad loss for the Cavs. They competed against the Lakers, who you knew would be tough to beat after their loss to the Thunder on Wednesday. In addition, Cleveland kept it close and even had a lead in the fourth. The Cavs can hold their heads up high after this loss.

What’s Next:

Cleveland(3-3) continues their five-game road trip as they travel to Phoenix to battle the Western Conference Champions, the Suns(1-3), on Saturday night; Phoenix, who has lost two straight, is 0-2 at home this season.

Best of the Rest:

In his return from an ankle injury, LeBron James led the Lakers with 26 points, eights assists, and three rebounds; Carmelo Anthony added 24 points, including six three-pointers off the bench.

Watch below as Mobley, Rubio, and Markkanen react to loss against Lakers:

Cavs defeat Clippers to win third straight

The Cleveland Cavaliers won their third straight game on Wednesday night as they defeated the Clippers 92-79.

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Clippers.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Collin Sexton was sensational on Wednesday night. He was everywhere! Sexton was 12/20 from the field with 26 points, seven rebounds, and three steals. Also, he had a game-high +17 rating on the night.

The fourth-year guard had some big-time dunks as well, including this one below:

After five games, Sexton is the team’s leading scorer with 20.4 points per game on 52% shooting from the field.

Defense: The Cavs held the Clippers to 79 points, which is the third straight game they held a team below 90. In addition, according to Elias Sports, Cleveland held each of their last three opponents to under 410FG%, Atlanta(384 FG%), Denver(407 FG%), and the Clippers(356 FG%). The last time that happened for this team was in 2014.

-Rookie Evan Mobley keeps getting it done. The California native had the second double-double of his career against the Clippers. He had 12 points and snatched 10 rebounds. Also, Mobley was outstanding on defense as he added two blocks. After five games, Mobley is averaging 14 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks a contest on 75% shooting from the floor. 

-Darius Garland also was good for Cleveland. He poured in 16 points and six assists. 

-Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love continue to be vital for Cleveland off the pine. Rubio, who is fifth in the league in assists(39), had 15 points and three assists in 28 minutes; Love had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 24 minutes of action.

Rebounding: Cleveland crushed the Clippers on the glass(57-36) and added 19 second-chance points while holding Los Angeles to three second-chance points.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

Turnovers: Cleveland had 20 turnovers on Wednesday night, which would cost you a game on most nights. Fortunately for this team, they were stellar on defense and all areas of the game.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland has won three straight, all against playoff teams last season, including two on the road. Furthermore, two of the teams they’ve beaten(Hawks and Clippers) made it to the conference finals a year ago. The Cavaliers are defending very well right now and getting contributions from everybody who touches the floor.

What’s Next:

Cleveland stays in Los Angeles to battle old friend LeBron James and the Lakers on Friday night. However, James may not play. The four-time MVP has missed the last two games for the Lakers with an ankle injury, so it should be interesting to see if he’ll be back to face the Cavaliers.

Best of the Rest:

Nicolas Batum and Reggie Jackson led the Clippers with 16 points apiece, and Paul George added 12 points and 10 rebounds.

Sexton, Mobley, and Garland talk win over Clippers:

 

 

 

 

 

Cavs defeat Nuggets! Here is The Great, the Not so Great, and bottom line of Cleveland’s win over Denver

On Monday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers(2-2) won for the second straight time when they defeated the Denver Nuggets(2-1) on the road 99-87.

Here is the great, the not the so great, and the bottom line of the Cavs’ win over Denver.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Kevin Love has embraced the role of coming off the bench. The 13-year veteran was fantastic for the Cavs on Tuesday night. Love scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed six rebounds in 21 minutes of action. He also passed John “Hot Rod” Williams for sole possession of fifth on the Cavaliers all-time defensive rebounds list. 

-Jarrett Allen was sensational for Cleveland. He was 10/11 from the field and scored 21 points, and collected a team-high 16 rebounds in 37 minutes of action. According to StatMuse, Allen is the first player with a 20/15 game on 90% shooting since Allen did it on February 24 and February 21. 

-Rookie Evan Mobley had 10 points and eight rebounds. Also, Mobley is just the second rookie in NBA history to average 15.0+ PPG, 8.0+ RPG, 3.0+ APG, 2.0+ BPG, and 1.0+ SPG through his first three career games.

-Defense: Cleveland allowed an average of 127.5 points per game in the first two games of the season, which were both losses. In the last two games, the Cavaliers have allowed an average of 87 points per contest. In addition, they forced 22 Nugget turnovers.

-J.B. Bickerstaff: Give him a ton of credit. He has this team playing solid defense, and he’s doing a good job managing this roster. He has this team playing inspired basketball.

-Fourth-quarter: The Cavaliers started the quarter on a 14-3 run. Cleveland was outstanding defensively in the fourth as they held Denver to only 17 points. 

-Lauri Markkanen’s dunk over Jokic in the first quarter was ridiculous.

Take a look:

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

NOTHING AT THIS TIME. No complaints! They beat an undefeated team on the road.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland beat two teams in the last two games that will probably be contenders in their respective conferences, which is impressive. 

What’s next:

Cleveland continues their west coast trip on Wednesday night in Los Angeles against the Clippers.

Best of the rest:

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with game-highs of 24 points and 19 rebounds, Aaron Gordon added 12 points and nine rebounds.

Collin Sexton had 14 points for the Cavs, Lauri Markkanen added 12 points and four rebounds. Darius Garland returned and scored nine points and seven assists after missing the previous two games with an ankle injury.  Ricky Rubio had seven points, eight assists, and four rebounds.

He and Facundo Campazzo received double technicals in the third quarter after the two went face-to-face.

After the game, Kevin Love hilariously described what he saw:

The Great, The Not so Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ loss to Hornets

The Cleveland Cavaliers(0-2) fell to the Charlotte Hornets(2-0) 123-112 in their home-opener at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Friday night. 

Charlotte’s Miles Bridges had 30 points, Kelly Oubre scored 25 points off the bench, Gordon Hayward had 18 points and nine assists, and LaMelo Ball added 17 and six assists.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Collin Sexton had a hot shooting night for Cleveland. “Young Bull” had a game-high 33 points on 13/21 shooting from the field. 

-In his second game as a pro, Evan Mobley had another solid performance with 13 points, five rebounds, and two blocks.

-Ricky Rubio had his second straight double-double as he got the start for an injured Darius Garland(ankle). Rubio had 15 points and 10 assists in 28 minutes. 

-Kevin Love had six points and a team-high 11 rebounds off the bench in 24 minutes of action.

-Jarrett Allen’s incredible dunk on Mason Plumlee in the second dunk. That was nasty!

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Turnovers: Cleveland has 19 turnovers which led to 34 Hornets’ points. Rubio had six turnovers, including four in the fourth quarter. Rubio took the blame for the loss.

“It was all on me,” he said postgame. “It was bad passes. There’s nothing to blame on them. It was all on me and I take that blame and I take this loss.”

-Fourth-quarter: Cleveland entered the fourth quarter trailing 90-89. However, the Hornets would outscore the Cavaliers 33-23 in the quarter. Charlotte started the fourth on a 19-2 run and pushed the lead to as much as 18 points. In the opener against Memphis, the Grizzlies started the fourth on a 10-0 run, so Cleveland has to fix their fourth-quarter woes

-Rebounding: Cleveland was outrebounded again for the second straight game(46-36). Allen has to do a better job on the glass. Last season, he averaged a double-double for the first time in his career. Against Memphis, he only had four rebounds, and on Friday night, he again, had four rebounds. In addition, Charlotte had 16 second-chance points, while Cleveland only had six.

Rebounding is a part of defense because it ends the possession. Cleveland must improve in that area. 

-Defense: Against Memphis, Cleveland gave up 70 points in the paint and allowed 132 points. On Friday night against the Hornets, they gave up 58 points in the paint and allowed Charlotte to shoot 53% from the field. 

Cleveland has to protect their paint!

Browns DE Myles Garrett was in the building on Friday night, and Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff jokingly said the following about Garrett after the game:

“There were a few moments where I wish he would have protected the paint for us,” Bickerstaff said.

Bottom Line:

It was going to be tough to beat the Hornets without Garland, and hopefully, they can get him back tomorrow against Atlanta. The Cavaliers are a work in progress. Things might get worse before they get better. However, they have to find a way to take care of the basketball and be better on the defensive end.

What’s next:

Cleveland hosts the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday night. Atlanta routed the Mavericks 113-87 in their season and home opener on Thursday night.

Watch as Sexton and Rubio discuss the loss to the Hornets:

Cavaliers will be better this season, but making the playoffs could be a tall task

The Cleveland Cavaliers begin their 52nd season on Wednesday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies. Cleveland is hoping to make the playoffs this season, and the last time that happened without LeBron James was the 1997-98 season. 

Last season, Cleveland won 22 games, and that was in a 72-game season. This season, they will play a full 82-game schedule, so there is a good chance they will win more than 22 games.

The Cavaliers have a very young team. The oldest player in their expectant starting lineup of Darius Garland(21), Collin Sexton(22), Isaac Okoro(20), Evan Mobley(20), and Jarrett Allen(23) is 23. In fact, Okoro and Mobley are not even 21, so there could be some growing pains. The Cavaliers will have to figure out if the undersized backcourt of Garland(6-1) and Sexton(6-1) can work. The two can work on offense. Sexton is a gifted scorer((24.5 PPG last season), Garland is a decent shooter, and he came on strong last season. Garland, who spent time with the U.S. National team this summer, could take that next step after having career-highs in points(17.4) and assists(6.1) per game last season.

However, defensively, Cleveland struggled. They were 17th in points allowed, which is not awful, but they allowed teams to shoot 48% from the field, which was 29th in the NBA. Maybe, things could get better defensively with Allen(1.4 BPG last season) and Mobley(1.6 BPG led all rookies in preseason) in the lineup. 

Regarding Mobley, the number three overall pick, he has shown flashes in the preseason, but Cleveland will need him to be very good if they want to make the playoffs. Allen should be solid after signing a five-year, $100 million deal in the offseason. Allen, who Cleveland acquired from the Nets in January, averaged a double-double last season (12.8 PPG and 10.0 RPG) for the first time in his career. Okoro, the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft, came on strong near the end of last season as he scored in double-digits in 12 of the final 13 games. However, Cleveland has to find a way to integrate him into the offense.

The Cavaliers will have a better bench this season. The addition of Ricky Rubio helps the second unit and the team. Rubio is a professional point guard, and there will be many times where he will close games for Cleveland. In addition, Kevin Love seems to be buying into his role with Cleveland; if Love(played in only 25 games last season due to calf injury) is healthy, which was an issue last season, he can still knock down shots and give this team good minutes. Also, Cleveland acquired Lauri Markkanen in a sign and trade from the Bulls in a three-team deal that sent Larry Nance Jr. to Portland. Markkanen can score the basketball and averaged a career-high 18.7 PPG in his second season in the league. Markkanen was the only 7-footer in the NBA last season to make 100+ three-pointers (118). He should be instant offense off the bench for Cleveland. The Cavs will have a lot of size this season. They can and will feature a lineup, at times, with three 7-footers in Markkanen, Allen, and Mobley, so that should be interesting. 

Getting to the playoffs won’t be easy for Cleveland. The Eastern Conference is expected to be very good this season. The top six teams from last season, the 76ers, Nets, Bucks, Knicks, Hawks, and Heat, could be better or close to what they were last season. In addition, the last four teams to make the playoff, the Celtics, Wizards, Pacers, and Hornets, could be around the same or better as well. Furthermore, the Chicago Bulls, who added Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, could be a high-seed in the East.

For Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to keep his job, Cleveland will have to be better, which they should be. However, better will probably not mean the playoffs. Cleveland does not defend or score well enough for that to happen. But, if Sexton, who the team did not extend before Monday’s deadline, can play with a chip on his shoulder and be better, if Garland takes that next step, if Markkanen shows the league that he can play, if Allen continues to be steady, if Mobley plays like a Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, if Okoro gets better in year two, if Love stays healthy and plays well; maybe Cleveland will get into the play-in tournament.

However, don’t bet on it. Expect this team to win between 25-30 games this season.