Cavs fight but fall short in Brooklyn

The Cleveland Cavaliers had a big one Friday night in Brooklyn against the Nets. The winner of this game would have possession of the seventh seed in the East.

Brooklyn led by as many as 17 points, but Cleveland did take their first lead in the third. However, Brooklyn dominated the fourth and defeated the Cavs 118-107 at Barclays Center.

Kevin Durant had a game-high 36 points; Kyrie Irving and Bruce Brown added 18 points apiece; Brown also added 10 rebounds. All five of Brooklyn’s starters scored in double figures.

Cleveland(43-38) has now lost three straight and dropped to eighth in the East, while the Nets(43-38) have won three straight. Brooklyn won the season series(3-1) over the Cavs, which means they are the seventh seed.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Nets:

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland played like a superstar against Brooklyn. He shot 12/24 from the field, including three threes, and finished with 31 points in 41 minutes of action. The All-Star scored 21 of those 31 points in the second and third quarters. He probably should have played the whole second half, but we’ll get to that later.

-Evan Mobley was back after missing five games with a sprained ankle, and he picked up where he left off. The rookie had 17 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. He also became the eighth Cavs rookie to go over 1000 points in a season. Mobley plays winning basketball, and everything he does contributes to winning.

-Lamar Stevens did not fill up the box score as he only had two points on 1/5 shooting from the field to go along with two rebounds, but he did defend his butt off in the third quarter when the Cavs were making their run. Kevin Durant still got his points; however, late in the third, he forced two Durant turnovers. It wasn’t enough, but give Stevens credit.

Second and Third Quarters: Cleveland trailed 34-19 after the first quarter and looked dead in the water. However, in the second quarter, things got better. Garland had 10 points in the quarter; Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 35-28 and trailed 62-54 at the break.

In the third, things got even better for the Cavs. Brooklyn led 70-60 with just under ten minutes left in the quarter, but Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 28-13 the rest of the third and led by as many as seven. Garland again was big time as he had 11 points in the quarter. The Cavs outscored Brooklyn 34-21 in the third and took an 88-83 lead into the fourth.

Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 69-49 in the second and third quarters.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Quarter: Cleveland did not get the start they wanted. Brooklyn shot 57% from the field, including 4/8 from deep. On the other hand, Cleveland shot 40% from the floor, including 0/7 from downtown. The Cavs had issues stopping Durant, who had 16 points in the quarter. Brooklyn took their largest lead of the game at 34-17 and led 34-19 after one. 

Second Chance Points: Brooklyn is a great offensive team. They are tough to stop, but they become even harder to control when you give them second and third chances. The Nets outrebounded the Cavs 45-31, and Brooklyn had 25-second chance points Friday night, which is a lot. Rebounding is a big part of defense, and Cleveland had difficulty closing the possessions with a rebound. 

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland had all the momentum going into the fourth, but the Nets have firepower for days, and it’s hard to keep them from scoring. Brooklyn went on a 10-4 run to start the fourth to take the lead for good. The Nets led by as many as 15 points in the fourth. The Cavs appeared to run out of gas in the fourth as the Nets outscored them 35-19 in the quarter.

The first 3:09 of the Fourth: You hate to be critical of anybody in this one, but Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff may have made a mistake by resting Garland early in the fourth. Garland was rolling, and so was the team while he was on the court. He did play the whole second and third quarters; however, Garland did get rest at halftime and before the start of the fourth. The Cavs should have ridden its young star to the end. Brooklyn took the lead back while Garland was on the bench and never relinquished it.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland battled in this one, and they played their hearts out, but Brooklyn is Brooklyn, so winning this game would be tough. The Cavs have to start better to beat a team of Brooklyn’s caliber.

Fortunately, the eighth-seeded Cavs got a little help as the Hawks fell to the Heat, which allowed Cleveland to hold the eighth seed and keep the eighth seed if they beat the Bucks in the season finale. The Cavs can still get the seventh seed, but they need to win and Brooklyn to lose to the Pacers at home, which is highly unlikely.

So, Cleveland could be returning to Brooklyn next Tuesday for the 7-8 game in the Play-In Tournament. 

However, unfortunately, Cleveland could fall to the 10th seed if they lose to the Bucks, and Charlotte(Wizards), Atlanta(@Rockets), and Brooklyn(Pacers) win their final game, which would be disastrous.

Getting the eighth seed won’t be easy for Cleveland as the Bucks are still fighting for the second seed in the East, so Sunday’s game should be very interesting.

Remember, the seventh and eighth seeds have two games to win one, while the ninth and tenth seeded teams have to win twice to make the playoffs.

Quotes:

“I’m proud of the way they played and proud of the effort that they played with, the way they kept coming back and staying in the game,” Bickerstaff said after the game.

What’s Next:

The Cavs return home to battle the Bucks in the regular-season finale.

 Best of the Rest:

-Lauri Markkanen had 17 points; Caris LeVert added 16, and Kevin Love had 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

-Andre Drummond had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for Brooklyn.

-Cavs shot 8/27 from three-point range.

Listen below as the Garland and Drummond react to loss to Brooklyn:

Time for the Cavs to focus on Play-In Tournament

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Great for the Cavs:

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

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

EVERYTHING!!

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

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

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

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

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

Bottom Line:

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s Next:

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

Best of the Rest:

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

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

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

Listen below as Osman reacts to loss to Hawks:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Doncic: ‘He’s a wizard with the ball in his hands’

The Cleveland Cavaliers concluded their three-game homestand Thursday night against Luka Doncic and the Mavericks. 

The Cavs were without Evan Mobley(sprained ankle), which is a considerable loss.

Without Mobley, Cleveland could not slow down Doncic as he had 35 points, nine rebounds, and 13 assists, and Dorian Finney-Smith(6/12 3-PT FG) had a career-high 28 points as the Mavs defeated the Cavs 120-112 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

Cleveland(42-34), who is the seventh seed in the East, is now two games behind the sixth-seeded Raptors(44-32) and the fifth seed, the Chicago Bulls(44-32).

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Caris LeVert had his best game and highest-scoring night as a Cavalier. He scored 21 of his 32 points in the first half to go along with six rebounds and four assists. LeVert looked comfortable, and he attacked from start to finish.

-Darius Garland did what he has done all month long, and that’s record a double-double. The All-Star had 25 points, 10 assists, and four steals. This was Garland’s 11th double-double in the month of March, which is a team record for points and assists double-doubles in a month.

-Moses Brown got his first start as a Cavalier against his former team, and he played well. Brown had 12 points(5/5 FG) and nine rebounds. He played with a lot of energy Monday night.

Second Quarter: The Cavs trailed 34-30 after one quarter but started fast in the second. With the game tied at 34, Cleveland went on a 16-8 run to take their largest lead of the game at 50-42. LeVert had 12 big points in the quarter. The Cavs shot 58% from the floor, including 5/6 from deep. They outscored Dallas 37-27 in the quarter and led 67-61 at halftime.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Third Quarter: The game shifted in the third. With the game tied at 87 with just under five minutes left in the quarter, the Mavs went on a 13-0 run to take their largest lead of 13. Cleveland had no answers for Doncic and Finney-Smith. Doncic had 20 points in the quarter(8/12 FG, 2/3 3-PT FG), and Finney-Smith had 11 points(3/5 3-PT FG). The two scored 31 of Dallas’ 39 points in the third. The Mavs shot 65% from the field, including 50%(5/10) from downtown. The game was pretty much over after the third as Dallas led 100-89 at the end of three.

Defense: The Cavs have played good defense for most of the season. However, of late, they have struggled on the defensive end. They allowed the Mavs, who are 25th in points per game, to score 120 points in regulation on 52% shooting from the floor. Without Mobley and Jarrett Allen, it makes sense that they struggled defensively Wednesday night.

Turnovers: Cleveland had 15 turnovers Wednesday night, which led to 13 points for the Mavs. Way too many turnovers when you’re trying to beat an outstanding team like Dallas.

Bottom Line:

Barring a collapse from the Bulls and Raptors, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be involved in the Play-In Tournament. Considering where they were a few weeks ago, that’s a disappointment.

However, considering all the injuries, this team has dealt with and the expectations for this team coming into the season, making the Play-In Tournament is a success for the Cavs.

The Cavs have six games left, and they will need a lot of help to be one of the top six teams in the East.

Quotes:

“He’s a wizard with the ball in his hands,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Doncic post-game.

What’s Next:

Cleveland travels to Atlanta Thursday night to battle the Hawks. 

Best of the Rest:

Before the game, the Cavs announced that Mobley will be out at least three games, including Wednesday’s game against Dallas, with an ankle sprain after an MRI Wednesday confirmed the injury. According to the team, Mobley will now undergo a period of treatment and rehabilitation, and his return to play will be updated as appropriate. 

-Lamar Stevens scored 16 points; Stevens has been in double figures in five of the last six games. 

-For the second straight game, Cedi Osman was a DNP-CD. 

Watch below as Bickerstaff talks loss to Mavs, Doncic, and more:

 

 

Cavs’ Love: ‘It gutted us to lose Evan(Mobley)’

The Cavaliers hoped to break a three-game losing streak as they hosted the Orlando Magic Monday night.

Cleveland had their largest lead of 20 points in the second quarter, but the Magic would grab the lead in the third. However, the Cavs would pull away in the fourth and win 107-101 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The seventh-seeded Cavs(42-33) snap their three-game losing streak and remain one game behind the sixth-seeded Raptors(43-32), who beat the Celtics in OT Monday night, and the fifth–seeded Bulls(43-32), who fell to the Knicks last night.

Cleveland has now clinched a winning season for the first time since 2018 and for the first time since 1998 without LeBron James.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland had game-highs of 25 points and 12 assists to go along with three steals, and he took over late in the fourth. Cleveland led 95-92 with under four minutes to go, and Garland hit a floater, made a three, and assisted on an alley-oop dunk from Lauri Markkanen to put the Cavs up 102-92 with just over a minute left in the game. This was Garland”s 10th double-double in the month of March.

-Kevin Love came off the bench and got things done for Cleveland. Love scored 14 of his 19 points in the second quarter, including three of his four made threes. At one point, he scored eight straight for the Cavs in the second. Love, who added seven rebounds and three assists, leads Cleveland with 164 threes made this season.

-Lauri Markkanen had 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and gave the Cavs the lead for good with three at the 4:37 mark of the fourth.

-Dylan Windler spent more time in the G League than the NBA this season, but he took advantage of his opportunity Monday night. Windler had six points and nine rebounds, and he was on the court for the final 5-plus minutes of the game. He also won the “Junkyard Dog” award.

The First 3:49 of the Second Quarter: Cleveland began the second quarter on an 18-3 run to take a 20-point lead(largest of the game). During that run, Love had eight points, and Garland added five. However, the Magic would outscore the Cavs 28-15 the rest of the quarter, and Cleveland would lead 60-53 at the break.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Evan Mobley left in the second quarter and did not return after spraining his left ankle. The injury did not look good as Mobley had a noticeable limp, but hopefully, it’s not too serious. The Cavs can’t afford to be without two of the anchors of their defense in Mobley and Jarret Allen.

According ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the X-Rays on Mobley’s sprained left ankle were negative. 

Turnovers:  Cleveland had 15 turnovers, which led to 27 points for Orlando.

Bottom Line:

The Cavs got a win, which is all that matters. It wasn’t their best effort, but again, it’s a win. Now, hopefully, they won’t be without Mobley for too long. They took an emotional hit when the Rookie-of-the-Year favorite went down, which they acknowledged post game. 

This team has fought injuries all year long, and at this point, they are still standing. 

Now, they have to find a will and a way to get that sixth seed with seven games left in the regular season to avoid the Play-in Tournament. 

Quotes:

“It gutted us to lose Evan, whether it’s for a game, two games, three games, or whatever it may be,” Love said post-game.

What’s Next:

Cleveland concludes their three-game homestand Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Best of the Rest:

-The Magic had seven players in double figures as Wendell Carter Jr. led the way with a team-high 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

-Isaac Okoro added 11 points for the Cavs.

-Before the game, the Cavaliers announced that forward Dean Wade, who missed the previous seven games dating back to March 14th, underwent successful surgery to treat ongoing issues with the meniscus in his right knee and will miss the remainder of the 2021-22 season.

 In addition, the team announced that guard Rajon Rondo (Right Ankle Sprain) and Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (Left 3rd Finger Fracture) remain out.

Watch below as Garland reacts to win over the Magic:

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Raptors: ‘They outplayed us’

The Cleveland Cavaliers traveled to Toronto to battle the Raptors Thursday night in their biggest game of the season to date. Coming into this game, the sixth-seeded Cavs had a one-game lead over the seventh-seeded Raptors.

Toronto led for most of the game and had their largest lead of 17 points in the fourth as the Raptors defeated the Cavs 117-104 at Scotiabank Arena.

Pascal Siakam had a season-high tying 35 points, including a career-high tying six threes for Toronto as they had six players in double figures.

With the win, the Raptors(41-32) and Cavs(41-32) are tied for the sixth seed in the East, but Cleveland holds the tie-breaker since they won the season series (3=1).

Teams seeded 7-10  in their conference will have to battle it out in the Play-In Tournament to make the playoffs.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Lauri Markkanen came to play Thursday night, and he had a team-high 20 points. In the last 14 games, Markkanen has had 20-plus points six times. 

-Darius Garland had another double-double with 18 points and 10 assists. This is Garland’s fourth straight double-double. He did not shoot it well(7/18 FG, 1/6 3-PT FG), but he did do his part.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

First Quarter: Cleveland led 10-5 with just under eight minutes in the first, but they were outscored 20-7 the rest of the quarter, including a 15-0 run from Toronto. The Cavs struggled to score as they shot 30% from the field, including 1/8 from downtown. After the first, Toronto led 25-17 and took a 58-48 lead at halftime.

Cleveland’s three-point defense: The Cavs allowed Toronto to make 16 threes, nine of which came in the second half. 

Fast Break Points: Cleveland let the Raptors have a lot of success in transition. The Raptors had 18 fast break points, which means Cleveland allowed too many easy buckets. Cleveland also had 13 turnovers, which led to 17 points for Toronto.

Fourth Quarter: Toronto led 83-75 after three quarters, and they shot it well in fourth. The Raptors shot 60% from the floor. Cleveland cutt the lead to seven with just under 10 minutes to go, but the Raptors went on a 12-5 run to push the lead to 14. Toronto outscored the Cavs 34-29 in the fourth.

Evan Mobley: Coming into Thursday’s game against Toronto, Mobley(two games) was averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds against the Raptors. Mobley shot 14 times in the first matchup and 15 times in the game against the Raptors on March 6, where he had 20 points and 17 rebounds.

On Thursday night, Mobley got up only seven shots and finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. Clearly, he needed more touches.

Bottom Line:

Toronto is playing some good basketball right now and has won seven of their last nine games, so the Raptors are hot basketball team.

This was another game that had a playoff atmosphere, and the Cavs were just not up to the task. The Raptors are a battled-tested team, and they looked that way Thursday night.

Regarding Toronto, three of their final nine games are against teams in the playoffs(1-6 in their respective conference), while five of the Cavs’ final nine games are against playoff teams(1-6 in their respective conference), so you could argue the schedule favors the Raptors.

Quotes:

“They outplayed us,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Toronto. “Give them credit where credit is due.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs begin a three-game homestand Saturday night in Cleveland against the Bulls.

Best of the Rest:

Kevin Love got the start for Cleveland and had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Lamar Stevens was in double figures for the third straight game as he had 16 points and six rebounds off the bench. Cleveland had six players in double figures Thursday night.

-Chris Boucher had 17 points off the Raptors’ bench.

Watch below as Bickerstaff reacts to loss to Raptors:

Cavs battle back to defeat the Pistons

The Cleveland Cavaliers had to work overtime to defeat the Nuggets Friday night, and they had to turn back around and host the Pistons Saturday night.

The Cavs battled back from a 12-point deficit in the third to defeat the Pistons 113-109 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

For the second straight night, Cleveland had three players(Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Kevin Love) record doubles-doubles. 

In addition, the Cavs had six players in double figures.

Jerami Grant led the Pistons with a season-high 40 points, including seven threes.

The Cavs(41-30) have won two straight, while the Pistons(19-52) have lost five of six.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Kevin Love gave Cleveland the spark it needed off the bench. Love scored nine of his 14 points in the third. The Pistons had their largest lead of the night at 78-66 with 4:14 left in the third, but Cleveland went on a 16-3 run to close the quarter, and nine of those 16 points came from Love. Cleveland took an 82-81 lead into the fourth. Love also added 10 rebounds. 

-Cedi Osman had back-to-back DNPs, but when he got his opportunity Saturday, he took full advantage of it. Osman scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth. According to Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team does not defeat the Pistons without the contributions of Osman. 

Cleveland will need Osman come playoff time.

-Darius Garland led the way with 24 points, 12 assists, and two steals in 41 minutes of action. This is Garland’s seventh double-double in the last nine games. What a season for the first time All-Star. Garland also received the “Junkyard Dog Award” for playing 40-plus minutes in back-to-back nights.

-Evan Mobley filled the stat sheet Saturday night; he had 12 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. According to Cavs Notes, he became the sixth player in team history to record 20 double-doubles in their rookie season. 

The Final 4:14 of Third Quarter: See Kevin Love above

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland was rolling heading into the fourth. They went on a 17-8 run to take their largest lead of the night at 99-89. Detroit cut the lead to 105-102 with under two minutes to go, but Isaac Okoro hit a corner three, which was the dagger. Garland was 3/3 and scored seven points, and dished out six assists in the quarter. The Cavs shot 68% from the floor, including 67% from deep in the final stanza.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Second Quarter: Cleveland led 28-27 after one but was sluggish in the second. The Cavs took a 36-27 lead with 9:28 left in the quarter, but Detroit took a five-point lead after a 14-0 run. The Cavs shot 39% from the field, including 1/7 from three-point range. Conversely, Detroit shot 50% from the field. The Pistons took a 60-55 lead at the break.

Bottom Line:

If Cleveland had lost to the Pistons, it probably would have been the worst loss of the season when you consider what’s at stake. However, they woke up just in time and got the win.

The Cavs don’t ever give up. They have so much character and battle to end. Cleveland did what good teams do when they’re not at their best; they just find ways.

The sixth-seeded Cavs are now 1.5 games ahead of the seventh-seeded Raptors(39-31), and Cleveland is not 1/2 game behind the fifth-seed, the Chicago Bulls.

Quotes:

“The fans are always engaged here,” Bickerstaff said about Cleveland fans. “And you can feel the wave that comes over the building, which is why I think it’s one of the best arenas in the league.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs conclude their five-game homestand Monday night against LeBron James and the Lakers.

Best of the Rest: 

-Lamar Stevens added 15 points(6/7 FG) and five rebounds. 

-Lauri Markkanen made his 600th career three-pointer. He finished with eight points. 

-Cleveland moved to 8-0 this season when three-players record double-doubles.

-The Cavs are 3-1 on their current homestand.

Watch below as Bickerstaff talks Cavs’ win over Pistons:

 

 

 

 

Cavs scrap their way to victory against Denver

After coming off a tough loss to the 76ers Wednesday night, Cleveland continued their five-game homestand Friday against the Denver Nuggets.

The Cavs got double-doubles from Lauri Markkanen, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley as they defeated the Nuggets 119-116 in OT at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Denver had an opportunity to tie the game in OT, but Bones Hyland missed a three at the buzzer, and Cleveland got the big victory.

The Cavs(40-30) are now 2-1 on their homestand.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Lauri, Lauri, Lauri! Markkanen was big-time Friday night. He had a season-high 31 points(11/16 FG), including six threes, 10 rebounds, and a career-high four steals. With the game tied at 114 in OT, Markkanen made the go-ahead three with 28.3 seconds left. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the team does not defeat Denver without Markkanen. He went toe-to-toe with Nikola Jokic and got the job done.

-Evan Mobley is going to be something. Mobley scored nine of the team’s 12 points in OT, and he finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. Additionally, he had a big layup plus the foul to put Cleveland up three late in OT, which helped the Cavs hold on to the lead.

The rookie continues to play well at the center spot for the injured Jarrett Allen. Since he became the starter at center, Mobley is averaging 21.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest.

-Of course, Darius Garland had his fingerprints on this victory. The All-Star had 25 points, four rebounds, and 14 assists. This was Garland’s six double-double in eight games. Garland had the biggest offensive rebound of the game in OT, which set up Markkanen’s three that gave the Cavs the lead for good.

-Kevin Love battled Friday night. He scored nine of his 12 points(4/9 3PT FG) and grabbed five of his nine rebounds in the fourth quarter. Love worked tirelessly to keep Jokic off the glass and, along the way, made some big shots. For his efforts, Love earned “The Junkyard Dog Award” for his work on defense and on the boards.

Fourth Quarter: The Cavaliers trailed by 11(63-52) at halftime and by nine(87-78) going into the fourth. Denver matched their largest lead of the game of 14 in the final quarter, and with the Cavs trailing by 12 with just over eight minutes to go in regulation; Cleveland went on 20-6 run to take their first lead since early in the second quarter. The Cavs shot 53% from the floor, including 63% from deep in the fourth, and limited the Nuggets to 1/8 from three=point range. Cleveland would outscore Denver 29-20 in the quarter to get the game to OT.

Overtime: See Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkanen, and Darius Garland above. Cleveland outscored the Nuggets 12-9 in OT.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-We can point to their poor second quarter, where they were outscored 34-21, but not today. This win is too good to be negative.

Bottom Line:

This was a gut-check for the Cavs, and they battled and fought their way to victory. This team showed heart, grit, and to steal a word from Bickerstaff, scrap, to defeat the Nuggets. There is  little margin for error for the Cavs, and based on how they fought back against Denver, this team knows that.

As for the standings, Cleveland now has sole possession of the sixth spot in the East after the Raptors(39-31) fell to the Lakers at home in OT. The Cavs essentially have a two-game lead  because they have taken the season-series over the Raptors(3-0).

The two teams play one more time next week.

What’s Next:

Cleveland hosts the Detroit Pistons Saturday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Jokic led Denver with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. Aaron Gordon added 20 points, and Hyland had 17 points off the bench. The Nuggets had six players in double figures.

-For the second straight game, Cedi Osman was a DNP-CD. After their loss to Philly, Bickerstaff said the team wanted to give Dylan Windler minutes, which means Osman sits for now. We’ll probably see Osman again at some point.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff has high praise for Evan Mobley

On Monday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers began a five-game homestand against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Eight of Cleveland’s next nine games are at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland got some help as Caris LeVert(foot), who missed eight games, and Lauri Markkanen(ankle), who missed the team’s loss to Chicago, made their return.

Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, and Isaac Okoro combined for 74 points as the Cavs defeated the Clippers 120-111 in overtime. 

Both the Clippers and Cavs had six players in the double figures.

Cleveland’s (39-29) two-game losing streak is over, while the Clippers(36-35) have lost four of six. 

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Evan Mobley continued his impressive rookie season Monday night. He had a career-high 30 points to go along with six rebounds and two blocks. Mobley’s recorded his 100th block in OT as he denied Ivica Zubac’s dunk attempt. He became the fourth player in team history to have 100 blocks as a rookie in a season.

-Darius Garland had 24 points(4/9 3pt FG) and 13 assists. With just under three minutes to go and the game tied at 100, Garland hit a floater, and with the game tied at 103, Garland hit a three with 1:20 left in the fourth. He made big shots against the Clippers, and he has recorded at least 24 points in 10 of the last 11 games. 

-Isaac Okoro will always bring defense, but he did that and a little more against Los Angeles. The second-year guard had 20 points(11-13 FT), five rebounds, and five assists. The 11 free throws made are a career-high, and this was his first 20-5-5 game of his career. Cleveland is tough to beat when Okoro gets it done on the offensive end.

-Lauri Markkanen scored five of his 17 points(4/6 3pt FG) in OT. He also grabbed nine rebounds. Markkanen made a dagger three to put Cleveland up 118-111 with 54.3 seconds left in OT. He’s been in double figures in eight of his last nine games.

Three-point shooting: Cleveland bounced back Monday night after shooting 5/24 from three-point range in Saturday’s loss to the Bulls. They were 15/30 from deep against Los Angeles.

Third Quarter:  Los Angeles led 57-56 at halftime. After the Clippers took an eight-point lead with just over six minutes to go in third, Cleveland went on a 20-6 run to close the quarter and took an 87-81 lead into the fourth. 

Overtime: Cleveland shot 80%(4/5 FG) from the floor in OT, including 2/2 from deep. Conversely, they held the Clippers to 1/10 from the field, including 1/5 from downtown. The Cavs outscored the Clippers 14-5 in the extra session.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

The Final 6:14 of the Fourth: Cleveland led 100-91 with just over six minutes to go in the fourth, but the Clippers ended the game on a 15-6 run to send it into overtime. The Clipper had an opportunity to take the lead late, but Amir Coffey missed one of two free throws with 30.8 seconds to go in regulation.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland got back on track Monday night and getting Markkanen and LeVert back in the lineup boosted this team. LeVert gives this team another ball-handler and a guy who can score, and Markkanen has been solid of late.

The Cavs, who are 21-11 at home, know they have to take advantage of this homestand, but the next two won’t be easy as Philadelphia and Denver come to town.

To the standings, Cleveland(sixth seed) holds a one-game lead over the seventh-seeded Raptors(39-30), who have won four straight, including Monday’s rout of the Lakers. The Cavs are 1.5 games behind the fifth-seeded Celtics and two games behind the fourth seed, the Bulls.

“He’ll be there one day, for sure,” Bickerstaff said of Mobley’s jersey being retired in Cleveland.

What’s Next:

On Wednesday night, the Cavs host the Philadelphia 76ers, who are 2-0 against Cleveland this season.

Best of the Rest:

-Zubac led the Clippers with 24 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. Coffey had 19 points, and Terance Mann added 18 points and 10 rebounds.

-LeVert had 11 points in his return, and Kevin Love chipped in with 13 points and nine rebounds.

-Clippers Ty Lue, who coached Cleveland to their first title in 2016, got some love from the fans as the Cavs gave him a video tribute.

Watch below as Okoro and Mobley react to win over the Clippers:

Cavs go home to regroup after falling to Chicago Saturday night

The Cleveland Cavaliers headed to Chicago to face the Bulls Saturday night in the second half of a back-to-back after falling to the Heat Friday night.

The Cavs have been without Caris LeVert(foot) and Jarrett Allen(finger), and they came in even more depleted as Lauri Markkanen missed Saturday’s game after re-aggravating an ankle injury Friday night.

Cleveland trailed by double digits at halftime, and Chicago had their largest lead of 18 points in the fourth and would win 101-91 at United Center.

The Cavs finished their three-game road trip 1-2. 

The Cavs(38-29) have now lost two straight and eight of their last 11. Chicago(41-26) has won two in a row.

The Great for the Cavs:

-After a slow shooting start(2-12 in the first half), Darius Garland finished strong. He scored 19 of his 25 points in the second half, including nine in the fourth. He also added seven rebounds and seven assists in 42 minutes of action. Once you become an All-Star, defenses will start to show you more attention, and Garland is getting a lot of attention from opposing defenses.

-Evan Mobley got his third consecutive start at center and, again, played well. Mobley had 17 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. This was Mobley’s four straight game in double figures.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Second Quarter:  Things fell apart for Cleveland in the second. They were down 24-22 after one quarter, but their shots did not fall in the second as they were 9/26 from the floor, including 1/11 from downtown. Chicago went on a 15-5 run to start the second and took a 12-point lead, and they led by as many as 13 in the quarter. 

After a DeMar DeRozan jumper at the buzzer, Chicago took a 53-42 lead into the break. Cleveland cut the lead to nine on two occasions in the second half, but they never really threatened after the second quarter.

Three-Point Shooting:  According to Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland got good looks from three-point range, but they could not make shots. Cleveland finished 5/24(21%) from deep. Cedi Osman struggled the most as he was 1/8 from downtown.

Turnovers: The Cavs had 18 turnovers against the Heat Friday night and turned the ball over 14 times against the Bulls. That’s 32 turnovers in two games. It’s tough to win against the better teams in the league when you’re turning the ball over at that rate. Garland led the way with six turnovers.

Bottom Line: 

The Bottom Line, it’s time for the Cavs to get home and regroup. Without some of their key players, it’s not surprising that Cleveland lost to the Heat and Bulls on the road. They did battle, but they just did not have enough.

Fortunately for the Cavs, they get to go home for five straight and eight of their next nine, so that’s an opportunity for them to possibly solidify that six spot in the East and avoid the Play-In Tournament.

As for the standings, things are starting to tighten up for that sixth spot in the East. The seventh-seeded Raptors(37-30) have won three straight and are now one game behind the Cavs for the sixth seed. Remember, only the top six teams in each conference are guaranteed a playoff spot. 

What’s Next:

Cleveland begins a five-game homestand starting Monday night against the Clippers.

Best of the Rest:

-DeRozan led the Bulls with 25 points; Nikola Vucevic chipped in with 20 points and 14 rebounds, Ayo Dosunmu added 17 points.

-Kevin Love, who started for Markkanen, had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Osman added 14 points off the bench.

-Rajon Rondo left in the third quarter and did not return after rolling his ankle. 

Watch below as Kevin Love talks loss to Bulls:

 

 

 

Cavs stumble, fall in Miami

The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their three-game road trip Friday night in Miami against the Heat. 

Miami had their biggest lead of 17 points in the third as they defeated the Cavs 117-105 at FTX Arena.

With the loss, the Cavs’ (38-28) two-game winning streak is over, while the Heat (45-23) have won four out of five.

The Great for the Cavs:

-For the fourth straight game, Darius Garland recorded a double-double. He had 24 points, and 10 assists, including a career-high 15 free throws made(15/16 FT). The All-Star struggled from the floor(4/17 FG), but he made up at the line. Garland has 20 double-doubles this season, which is also a career-high.

-For the third consecutive game, Evan Mobley had a double-double. The rookie had 19 points, 12 rebounds, and four assists. Mobley got his second straight start at center and played well, and he now has the most double-doubles(18) among rookies.

Second Quarter: Cleveland trailed 28-18 after the first quarter and trailed by as many as 14 points(46-32) in the second, but the Cavs picked things up. They went on a 22-7 run to take their first lead of the game and trailed 58-57 at the break. Cleveland shot 68% from the floor, including 60%(3/5) from deep, and outscored the Heat 39-30 in the quarter.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Third Quarter: After a Garland free throw, the Cavs had a five-point lead, which was their largest of the game, but from there, Miami went on a 27-9 run to take complete control of the game.

Miami raised the Heat on the defensive end. Cleveland shot 4/16(25%) from the floor, including 1/7(14%) from three-point range. The Heat outscored the Cavs 27-15 in the third.

Turnovers:  Cleveland had 18 turnovers, which led to 30 points for Miami. If you’re trying to beat the best team in the East, you can’t turn the ball over that many times. The Cavs are a young team, and young teams can be sloppy at times. Currently, the Cavs are 28th in the NBA in turnovers per game.

Bottom Line: 

Look, the Heat have the best record in the East for a reason, and they showed that Friday night. 

Cleveland has back-to-back games on the road against two of the top teams in the East, so hopefully, for them, they can try to get the split against the Bulls Saturday night.

The Cavs have to be better on the defensive end, especially with 30 points in street clothes(Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert). In two out of their last three wins, Cleveland held their opponents below 100 points, so they have to defend at a high level if they want to win. 

As for the standings, the sixth-seeded Cavs are two games behind the fifth-seeded Celtics(41-27) and two games ahead of the seventh-seed, the Raptors.

What’s Next:

Cleveland concludes their three-game homestand in Chicago against the Bulls.

Best of the Rest:

Bam Adebayo had game-highs of 30 points and 17 rebounds; Jimmy Butler added 24 points, and Tyler Herro chipped in with 22 points off the bench.

-LeVert(foot) missed his eighth straight game.