Cavs’ Sexton: ‘I feel like we can make a push’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(20-35) had a full roster on Thursday night against the Warriors(28-28), and things started well for this team. Cleveland led by as much as 11 points in the first quarter and had a 31-26 lead after one. However, Golden State outscored the Cavs by 14 in the second quarter and took control of the game from there.

Golden State led by as much as 18 points in the second quarter and by as much as 15 points in the third quarter. Cleveland got the lead down to four in the third, but it wasn’t enough as they would fall to the Warriors 119-101 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Steph Curry had 20 of his 33 points in the second half, and Andrew Wiggins added 23 points. For Cleveland, Collin Sexton, who returned after missing two games due to a groin injury, had 30, and Darius Garland poured in 20 points. 

Cleveland played unselfish basketball in the first quarter and had nine assists on 13 made field goals, but they had only 12 assists over the final three quarters. 

After the game, Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed the lack of ball movement.

“The focus has to be on the ball movement,” he said. “That ball can’t get “sticky.” We gotta continue to move the ball; we gotta continue to cut, let our big guys play make… But we just can’t get stagnant; that’s where we gotta continue to improve.”

Despite the loss, Sexton is confident Cleveland can make a push for the playoffs.

“We’re going to be fine,” he said. “This last stretch, I feel like we can make a push. We gotta take it one day at a time.”

Cleveland now has five of their next six on the road, which starts Saturday night in a big game against the 10th-seeded Bulls, who the Cavs must catch to make it in the play-in tournament. Cleveland is currently 2.5 games behind Chicago.

According to reports, Chicago will be without their leading scorer Zach LaVibe(health and safety protocols), which gives Cleveland an advantage going into this contest. 

The time is now to make that playoff push, and we’ll see if the Cavs can seize the moment.

Cavs’ Sexton on loss to Raptors: ‘It was embarrassing what took place in the first half’

On Saturday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a golden opportunity to move up in the Eastern Conference’s standings against the Toronto Raptors. Toronto was without their top two leading scorers in Pascal Siakam(rest), Fred VanVleet(hip), and they were without Kyle Lowry(foot).  However, Cleveland picked the wrong time to play one of its worst games of the season.

Cleveland allowed a franchise-worst 47 points in the first quarter and a franchise-worst 87 points in the first half on Saturday night. The Raptors shot 85% from the field in the first quarter. Toronto finished the first half shooting 71% from the field and would lead by as much as 38 points. Ultimately, Toronto would snap Cleveland’s two-game winning streak and win 135-115 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Gary Trent Jr. was sizzling for the Raptors. He shot 17/19 from the field, including 7/9 from three-point range, and had a career-high 44 points.

Collin Sexton, who led the Cavs with 29 points, was embarrassed by what he saw in the first half against Toronto.

“It was embarrassing what took place in the first half tonight,” Sexton said. “We pretty much just came out being soft. They just pretty much got whatever they wanted when they wanted it.”

Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff was clearly disappointed after the game and thought the team lacked toughness in the first half.

“We just didn’t have any grit,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we let them do what they wanted to do. They were beating us up one-on-one. We weren’t good helping one another. It was a bunch of different things, but it starts with the fight and the toughness that I don’t think we started with.”

This will be one of those games Cleveland wishes it could have back. If they would have defeated Toronto on Saturday night, the Cavs would have had sole possession of the 11th seed in the Eastern Conference and would have put them one step closer to the 10th-seeded Bulls(final spot in playoffs).

However, this is what young teams do. They look great at times, and they look bad at times. Saturday night was that “bad at times.” Fortunately for Cleveland, they get back at it on Sunday night when they host the New Orleans Pelicans.

Notes:

Cleveland was again without Jarrett Allen(concussion) and Larry Nance Jr.(illness).

The team announced on Saturday that they’ve signed Mfiondu Kabengele to a 10-day contract. Kabengele was a first round pick of the Nets in 2019. He is the nephew of NBA legend and Basketball Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton, Garland: ‘The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of’

The Cavaliers have not played many complete games this season, but on Monday night in San Antonio, the Cavs did just that.

Cleveland(18-32) won every quarter against the Spurs(24-24) and led by as much as 32 points. The Cavaliers would defeat the Spurs 125-101. Cleveland snapped their five-game losing streak, and the Spurs have now lost three straight. The win over the Spurs was their largest road win for the Cavs since 2017.

The Cavs were led by Darius Garland, who had a career-high 37 points. The second-year guard was 14/22 from the field, including 5-10 from three-point range. Garland also added seven assists. Collin Sexton added 22 points for the Cavs. The Sexton and Garland backcourt combined for 59 points and 12 assists on Monday night. 

Garland has had a lot of success against the Spurs this season. He set his previous career-high of 29 points against San Antonio back in March. According to Garland, he knew that Monday was going to be a good day during shootaround.

“I actually said something at shootaround early this morning,” Garland said. “I was like, ‘It’s going to be a good day.’ Everybody was locked in during shootaround.”

Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with the backcourt play and believes what Sexton and Garland did on Monday night is what elite backcourts do in the NBA.

“The numbers they put up are what star backcourts are capable of,” Bickerstaff said. “That’s what they do consistently. When you think of the elite backcourts in the league, you look at those numbers, and those numbers come consistently, and I think our young guys are still growing. When your backcourt plays like that, that’s how you carry a team.”

Seeing the 21-year-old Garland and the 22-year-old Sexton perform the way they did on Monday night is exciting for the Cavs and gives the team more hope about the future. These two can and have been dynamic at times this season. To Bickerstaff’s point, if they continue to play at this level, Sexton and Garland can carry a team and possibly carry the Cavs to big things for years to come.

Photo: @Cavs/Twitter

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Bulls; ‘We had a bunch of guys who contributed tonight’

The shorthanded Cleveland Cavaliers(17-27) went into Chicago(19-24) to battle the Bulls on Wednesday night, and while they did not have their leading scorer Collin Sexton, who was out due to a sore hamstring, they did have Darius Garland, Larry Nance Jr., and Jarrett Allen, who all did their part.

Cleveland had five guys in double figures against the Bulls. Led by Garland, who had 22 points and nine assists, Nance Jr. chipped in with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and five assists, and Allen contributed 19 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks as the Cavs defeated the Bulls on the road 103-94. 

Without Sexton, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff knew he needed everybody else to step up, and they did.

“Our guys did a heck of a job,” Bickerstaff said. “It wasn’t going to be one person that fills that void. It was going to have to be a bunch of different people that step up. You look up and down our boxscore; we had five guys in double figures…We had a bunch of guys who contributed tonight.”

Defensively, Cleveland got a big effort from rookie Isaac Okoro, who held Chicago’s leading scorer Zach LaVine to 8-20 shooting from the field. LaVine did have 22 points, but only four points in the second half. The Cavs defense played well as a whole and held the Bulls to 17 points in the third quarter, which helped Cleveland take a 78-72 lead into the fourth quarter.

Now, for Cleveland, their attention turns to the trade deadline, which is Thursday at 3 P.M. ET. Cavaliers reserve center JaVale McGee did not play on Wednesday night. When asked why McGee did not play against Chicago, Bickerstaff said the following:

“We are concentrating on the guys that were playing tonight,” he said. “We’ll focus on that, and I let (Cavs GM)Koby(Altman) answer any of those other questions.”

The 33-year-old McGee will probably be on the move, but just like every year near the trade deadline, there are usually more rumors than actual deals, but we’ll see what happens with McGee.

Also, we’ll see what happens with Andre Drummond, who has not played since mid-February as the team looked to trade the two-time All-Star. Will he get dealt, or will Cleveland buy him out?

We’ll find out soon enough.

 Notes:

-Cavs continue their four-game road trip on Friday night against the Lakers.

-With the win against Chicago on Wednesday night, Cleveland moved to 2.5 games behind the Bulls for the 10th and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Cavs’ Sexton: ‘I don’t back down’

The Toronto Raptors(17-25) woke up Collin Sexton on Sunday night, and based on the results, that was not a good idea. Before the end of the first half, Sexton and Norman Powell got into an altercation. Both players did some talking, and both Sexton and Powell were assessed technical fouls. 

However, that altercation motivated Sexton, who scored 23 of his game-high 36 points(13/24, 6-9 from three-point range) in the second half as Cleveland(16-26) defeated the Raptors 116-105 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. With the loss, Toronto has now lost eight straight. 

After the game, Sexton discussed what happened with him and Powell.

“I think it was half-court,” he said. “Norman Powell tried to set a screen. I got over it. They were jawing earlier when I was at the free-throw line, said some stuff back. I don’t back down.”

Following the altercation, Cavaliers C Jarrett Allen, who had 17 points and 15 rebounds on Sunday night, saw something different in Sexton.

“You saw a different fire in Collin’s eyes after what happened at the end of the first half,” Allen said. “He wanted to go after Norman Powell. He wanted to go after all those guys.”

Cleveland trailed by five after the first quarter, which usually means a loss for this team. The Cavaliers are 2-20 this season when trailing after the first quarter, but Sunday was a different story. Cleveland stormed back in the second quarter and had a lead at halftime. Cleveland had a great third quarter and outscored the Raptors by 14 to take a 91-75 lead into the fourth. The Cavaliers led by as much as 22 in the fourth quarter.

However, turnovers plagued the Cavaliers in the fourth quarter. Cleveland committed eight of their season-high 27 turnovers in that quarter. Ultimately, Toronto was able to cut the lead to five late in the game. However, Cleveland was able to hold them off. 

Sexton showed a lot of grit and toughness on Sunday night, and the Cavs did as well. That situation with Powell could have gone either way, but fortunately for the Cavs, it inspired Sexton.

Cleveland ends their four-game homestand on Monday night when they host the Sacramento Kings.

Watch below as Sexton talks victory over Raptors:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Spurs: ‘I thought there was an opportunity if we would have competed the way we did in the fourth quarter for 48’

When the Cavaliers get off to a slow start, nine times out of ten, they will lose. Against the San Antonio Spurs(22-16) on Friday night, Cleveland(15-26) trailed by three points after one quarter and trailed by 12 points at the break. The Cavaliers fell behind by as many as 22 points in the third quarter. Ultimately, despite a valiant effort in the fourth quarter, they would fall at home to the Spurs 116-110.

Cleveland is now 2-20 when trailing after the first quarter this season. However, they battled hard in the fourth quarter. The Cavaliers scored 44 points in the final stanza, but it was too little, too late. 

The Spurs were led by Keldon Johnson, who had 23 points and a career-high 21 rebounds, which was the first 20-20 game for San Antonio since Tim Duncan did it in 2013. Cleveland’s backcourt had another huge game on Friday night. Collin Sexton and Darius Garland had 29 points apiece. For Garland, the 29 points were a career-high.

According to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, this team has to be at their best from the beginning.

“I think we got off to a slow start,” Bickerstaff said. “I’m not necessarily sure what the cause of it was, but the message to the group was, ‘we don’t have the opportunity to ease our way into games.’ We have to have that spirit for 48 minutes in order to give ourselves a chance… I thought there was an opportunity if we would have competed the way we did in the fourth quarter for 48.”

Cleveland was able to get back into the game because of the play of rookie reserve Lamar Stevens. The two-way player gave Cleveland a huge spark in the third and fourth quarters. in 17 minutes of action, Stevens had career-highs of 15 points and 11 rebounds, and Bickerstaff was happy with his play.

“He was superb tonight,” Bickerstaff said. “Unbelievable effort. He sparked that group, and he was phenomenal tonight.”

Bickerstaff is correct. Cleveland is not good enough to start slow. They have to bring that same energy that they brought in the fourth throughout the game, but these are the things that happens when you have a young team.

Cleveland plays the third game of their four-game homestand against the Raptors on Sunday night.

Nance Jr. on Sexton, Garland: ‘It was a complete performance for those guys tonight’

The backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland came through for the Cavaliers on Wednesday night. Garland scored 18 of his career-high-tying 25 points in the first half, and Sexton scored 11 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Cavaliers(15-25) defeated the Celtics(20-20) 117-110 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to snap their four-game losing streak. 

“They were both awesome in terms of looking for their own shots and in looking to get us our shots,” Larry Nance Jr. said about Sexton and Garland. “It was a complete performance for those guys tonight.”

Sexton and Garland scored almost half the team’s points(54 points) last night, and when those two are flowing, Cleveland is tough to beat. 

“I just really wanted to come out aggressive,” Garland said after the game. “Last night, I was not as aggressive as I usually be, so I just wanted to come out and play my game and be more aggressive.”

Rookie Isaac Okoro also came up big for the Cavaliers, especially in the fourth quarter. Okoro scored seven points of his 15 points in the quarter, including an emphatic jam, plus the foul that pretty much put the game away.

According to Garland, who got the assist on that play, he knew Okoro would do something special when he got the ball. 

“When I gave it to him, I knew he was going to punch that,” Garland said. “That was the backbreaker right there. “That got the crowd up on their feet. That got us up on our feet. We knew it was game after that. We just had to get a couple of stops, and it was over with.”

Cleveland continues their four-game homestand on Friday night against the San Antonio Spurs, who the Cavs will play for the first time this season.

Home has been good for Cleveland of late. The Cavs are 3-1 in their last four games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, scoring at least 110 points and shooting over 50% from the field in every contest over that stretch.

Sexton on loss to Pacers: ‘We cut down on turnovers; hell, we win that game by at least 10, 12 points’

For most of the night, the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-22)were rolling against the Indiana Pacers. After Darius Garland made a driving layup plus the foul in the third quarter, Cleveland went up 77-60. However, Garland would leave the game with a groin injury, and Indiana(16-19) would outscore the Cavs by 20 points the rest of the way and win 114-111 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Wednesday night. 

With the loss, Cleveland’s four-game winning streak is snapped. Indiana was led by Malcolm Brogdon, who had a team-high 29 points, and T.J. McConnell, who had a triple-double with 16 points, 13 assists, and 10 steals off the bench. McConnell set an NBA record with nine steals(first half) in a half and became the first player since Mookie Blaylock(1998) to have a triple-double with points, assists, and steals.

After Garland went out of the game, Cleveland’s offense struggled, and they committed seven of the team’s season-high 26 turnovers in the fourth quarter.

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed the struggles on offense without Garland.

“Darius is a heck of a playmaker,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “He’s a guy teams have to worry about as far as scoring and also making his teammates better. He was one of our primary ball-handlers and playmakers. And, without him in the game, it just became a little more difficult… We missed Darius a lot down the stretch.”

According to Collin Sexton, who had a game-high 32 points to go along with 10 assists, if the team would have limited the turnovers, they would beat the Pacers on Wednesday night.

“We just gotta be better,” Sexton said. “We had too many turnovers tonight. We cut down on turnovers; hell, we win that game by at least 10, 12 points.

Despite the loss, Cleveland has to be excited by how they played in the last few games before the All-Star break, especially when you consider they had a 10-game losing streak. Now, as they go into the break, Cleveland has to hope they can get it healthy, which could give this team a shot at a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. 

 

Cavs’ McGee: ‘We’re not a team that just gives up”

It appears that the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-21) may have figured out their issues and have turned things around. Cleveland got their second straight road win and their fourth straight victory overall after defeating Houston(11-22) 101-90 on Monday night.

Collin Sexton was very dynamic against the Rockets. He was 12-20 from the field, including 4-8 from three-point range for 39 points. Sexton also added eight assists.

“He was not going to let us lose,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Sexton after the game. “And again, they do make it tough on you because they have some very good individual defenders, and they can switch with length. It turns into where you have to beat your man, and Collin has the ability to beat his man. He was awesome for us tonight.”

During the Cavs’ four-game winning streak, Sexton is averaging 29.8 ppg, and according to Sexton, he felt he needed to do more for his team.

“I put many hours in the gym each and every day,” Sexton said. “I knew I had to be better for my teammates.”

Two weeks ago, during their 10-game losing streak, it appeared the Cavs had lost their way and would struggle the rest of the season, but to the credit of the players and coaching staff, Cleveland has has not quit.

“We’re not a team that just gives up,” JaVale McGee said after scoring 10 points off the bench against Houston. “We are in the East right now, so maybe we’re three or four games out of the playoffs(2.5 games), which is crazy when you think about it after losing ten in a row.”

Cleveland plays their final game before the All-Star break at home against the Pacers on Wednesday night with a chance to make it five straight.

Cavs’ Garland: ‘We’re just growing every day’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(13-21) went into Philadelphia on Saturday night and may have gotten their best win of the season. Behind a combined 53 points from the backcourt of Collin Sexton(28) and Darius Garland(25), the Cavaliers defeated the 76ers 112-109 in OT. 

Philadelphia(22-12) is the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, but for the second time this season, Cleveland was able to defeat Philadelphia. After losing ten straight, the Cavaliers have now won three in a row.

Garland, who added nine assists to go along with his 25 points on Saturday night, believes beating Philadelphia is a great step in the right direction. 

“It’s just another step in the right direction,” Garland said after the game. “We have a lot of growing to do; but beating the number one team in the East is really good. We just have to keep this going, keep the momentum going, and hopefully, we can carry it to All-Star break and after the All-Star break.”

Cavaliers head coach J.B, Bickerstaff felt defense was one of the keys for Cleveland in this victory. Cleveland held Philadelphia to a season-low 47 points in the first half.

“Anytime you get a tough win like this, it validates what you are capable of, and our guys I thought tonight were really good defensively against a high-powered offensive team,” Bickerstaff said. “Obviously, Embiid(42 points) is a handful, Ben Simmons(24 points), obviously, All-Star caliber player. I thought our guys did a really good job defensively.”

To beat a team like Philadelphia, you have to fight, and Cleveland showed that fight and grit, which Garland discussed after the game.

“We’re just growing every day,” he said. “Every opportunity we get, we’re going to take the opportunity to take the challenge. I think that’s one thing about our team; we are going to fight most of the time.”

Adversity can bring the best out of teams, and it appears the Cavaliers have grown from the adversity, and while losing ten consecutive games is never good, it might have been what the Cavs needed to turn things around.