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 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.

Cavs’ Garland: ‘We just gotta get out of that little All-Star break funk’

For three quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers(14-24) played some fairly decent basketball and trailed by three points entering the fourth quarter against the Atlanta Hawks(19-20) on Sunday night. 

However, there are four quarters in a game, and the Cavaliers were outscored by 15 points in the final period and would fall to the Hawks on the road 100-82.

Atlanta’s John Collins had a game-high 22 points and 13 rebounds, Danilo Gallinari poured in 20 points, and Nathan Knight added 16 points off the bench. Collin Sexton led the way for Cleveland with 15 points.

Before the start of the fourth quarter, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff thought his team needed to fight hard to get the win on Sunday night, which did not happen.

“We talked about it at the third quarter break,” Bickerstaff said. “The team that found that scrap and that grit was going to be the team that won the game, and I thought they out-scrapped us in the fourth quarter, for sure.”

Cleveland had won four out of five games before the break. According to Bickerstaff, the Cavaliers, who have lost two straight after the All-Star break, have to get their rhythm back.

“We’ve lost our rhythm, clearly over the break,” he said. “Some of the grit and some of the toughness that we were playing with before the break, we need to rediscover here quickly because I thought there were so many moments where we were outplayed and outworked.”

Darius Garland, who made his return after missing the last two games due to a groin injury, and scored 11 points for Cleveland, added: “We just gotta get out of that little All-Star break funk.”

Before the break, Cleveland seemed to have found a rhythm with Dean Wade as the starter at power forward. After the break, with Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr’s return, the team has lost its rhythm. Unfortunately, the break came at the wrong team for this team, and trying to integrate Love and Nance Jr. has been an issue for Cleveland, but they have to find their way, and it does not get any easier as they travel to Miami to battle the Heat on Tuesday night, who have won 10 of their last 11, including four straight.


Love played in his second game with the team on Sunday after missing 33 games with a calf injury but left after two minutes of action. According to the team, Love didn’t feel right after a couple of trips down the floor and didn’t want to risk a setback.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Garland: ‘I think when he’s absent, you can see the impact that it has’

On Friday night, the Cavaliers(14-23) got some help back with the return of Kevin Love and Larry Nance Jr. against the New Orleans Pelicans16-22). However, they were without point guard Darius Garland, and without the second-year point guard, the offense struggled, and Cleveland was routed by the Pelicans 116-82 at Smoothie King Center. 

Brandon Ingram scored a game-high 28 points, while Zion Williamson added 22 points for the Pelicans. Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 19 points.

Without Garland, Cleveland was held to nine points in the third quarter and shot just 34% from the field and 22 percent from three-point range. Garland missed Friday’s game due to a groin injury he suffered against the Pacers before the break. In the last two games without Garland in the lineup, the Cavaliers have been outscored by 54 points(left in third quarter against Pacers).  He is putting up career highs in PPG (16.1), RPG (2.2), APG (5.9), SPG (1.18), MPG (32.9), FG% (.440), and 3FG% (.384). He also has three double-doubles and more 20-PT games this season (8) than last season (6), so not having that in your lineup is a big blow, which Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed after the game.

“Darius is a really good player, to be honest with you,” Bickerstaff said. “What he does is he has an understanding of how to include everyone and also how to find his and be a threat. He does a great job of organizing us. He makes everybody else’s job easier, and I think when he’s absent, you can see the impact that it has.”

For Cleveland, getting Love back on the floor was a welcomed sight for this team. The five-time All-Star missed 33 games due to a right calf strain. The 32-year-old Love, who is on a minutes restriction, scored four points in 10 minutes of action. 

“Just happy more than anything to be out there,” Love said. “I could have shot 0 for 50, and I would have been fine with it. Just playing basketball is what I love to do. It’s so much a part of me, so having it taken away from me last year and then being super unlucky with the injury is just more than anything; really, really happy to be back out there. Things will progress. It will probably take me a couple of weeks, maybe, to feel like myself.”

Hopefully, for Cleveland, Love can progress and become a factor for this team going forward, or possibly be a guy who could be a trade piece before the March 25 trade deadline.

Cleveland gets back at it on Sunday as they travel to Atlanta to battle the Hawks(7:30 ET).


Nance Jr. scored 11 points in 28 minutes on Friday night. Nance Jr. returned after missing 12 games with a left hand fracture.

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’ 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. 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Minnesota: ‘They showed a pride in each other’

Coming into the second game of their back-to-back with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Cavaliers were without their top two frontcourt players in Andre Drummond(back) and Larry Nance Jr.(wrist), but fortunately for Cleveland, they have depth.

Newly-acquired center Jarrett Allen, who made his first start for Cleveland for the injured Drummond, had 23 points, 18 rebounds, and five blocks. Collin Sexton had a game-high 26 points as the Cavaliers defeated Minnesota 100-98 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday night.

The Timberwolves defeated Cleveland 109-104 on Sunday night in Minnesota, but on Monday, the Cavaliers were a different team, and their head coach J.B. Bickerstaff liked what he saw.

“They showed a pride in each other,” Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff said after the game. “They showed commitment to who we are and what we believe in, and to be a few bodies down and still figure out a way to go get a win and scrap it out, wasn’t easy.”

Allen was not happy with the team’s effort on Sunday night, but he loved the energy the team played with on Monday night.

“That was just unacceptable for how the Cleveland Cavaliers play,” Allen said. “We play with energy, we play unselfish, and we’re always ready to give it our all, and that’s what we did tonight.”

After committing 19 turnovers on Sunday night, Cavs PG Darius Garland felt the team beat themselves. On Monday night, Garland, who had four turnovers in Sunday’s loss to Minnesota, bounced back with 18 points, 11 assists, and only two turnovers. Bickerstaff was happy with what he saw out of Garland. 

“When you’re facilitating the ball, and you’re making everybody better and making everybody feel like they are apart of it, and then, you’re able to make those daggers, your status grows,” Bickerstaff said. “And I think that’s where Darius is heading. He’ll get there to the level of those elite guards if he continues to do what he did tonight.”

Garland added: “I just want the ball in my hands so that I can make plays for everybody else. Just try to make the right reads.”

Credit to this young Cavs’ team for bouncing back the way they did on Monday night, which was expected when you consider this team’s mental makeup. Now, they have to find ways to be more consistent going forward. 

Expect the Cavs to bounce back against Minnesota on Monday night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cavs’ Garland on loss to Knicks: ‘There was a lot of one-on-one tonight, including myself’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(9-9) battled the New York Knicks(9-11) for the third and final time this season on Friday night, and for the first time, they traveled to New York to do it. But, the Knicks continued to have success against Cleveland and blew out the Cavaliers 102-81 at MSG to snap a three-game losing streak.

New York has beaten Cleveland for the second time in three games, and won the season series. Knicks rookie Immanuel Quickley was huge off the bench and scored a game-high 25 points, including 14 points in the fourth quarter.

Cavs PG Darius Garland, who led the team with 24 points on Friday night, was not happy with the team’s energy against the Knicks.

“We gotta watch the film from this game, and we have to come in with the attitude, ‘Like, we lost to the Knicks again,'” said Garland, “It’s really unacceptable on our part because we’re supposed to just bring all that energy and bring that force into the game. We just didn’t bring it today”

The Cavs were held to season-low 81 points, and according to Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff, they did not share the ball enough to succeed against the Knicks.

“We got to do a much better job of just passing the basketball to the open man,” Bickerstaff said. “It’s a simple thing. It’s a simple adjustment to be made, it’s an easy thing for us to fix.”

Garland added: “There was a lot of one-on-one tonight, including myself.”

Some might view this loss to the Knicks as a setback for Cleveland, while others, including Bickerstaff, believe it’s apart of the process of becoming a team.

“A team is not something that happens overnight,” he said. “Just because you throw a bunch of dudes in the locker room, it doesn’t make them a team, and we’re still working to become that. To have that cohesiveness, to have that trust. to have that understanding of each other in certain situations, and that comes through expErience.

“We gotta have these experiences in order to get to where we want to go. Again, it can be frustrating in the moment for all of us, but I think we need to understand that we have to be patient in order to get where we want to go.”

With such a young team, Cleveland will have moments like they had when they swept a two-game set against the Nets last week and have moments like they had on Friday night against the Knicks. However, as Bickerstaff said, it takes time for a group of players to become a team, and Cleveland still needs that time to become a team.