Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We’re a tough out for anybody’

The Cavs have had a lot of success at Madison Square Garden in recent years. Coming into Saturday’s showdown in New York against the Knicks, Cleveland was 12-2 in their last 14 games at MSG.

Cleveland’s dominance in NYC continued. They led from start to finish and defeated the Knicks 119-101. The Cavs(3-0) swept the season series with the win.

The Cavs(43-35), who had seven players in double figures, including all five starters, snap a two-game losing streak, while the Knicks(34-44) have lost two straight.

The Great for the Cavs:

Double-Double DG: Darius Garland had 11 double-doubles in the month of March, and he kept up his double-double ways in April as he had 24 points, including five threes and 13 assists against the Knicks. According to StatMuse, it’s his third game with 20-plus points, 10-plus assists, and five-plus threes this season, which ties Mark Price for the most in team history.

-Moses Brown recorded a double-double for the second consecutive game as he had 16 points and 13 rebounds. In his last three starts, Brown is averaging 14.3 points and 11.6 rebounds per contest. You gotta love his activity around the basket, which was rewarded as he won the “Junkyard Dog” award.

-Caris LeVert had 19 points, including three threes, six rebounds, and six assists Saturday. 

-Isaac Okoro was active and accurate as he had 16 points on 7/8 shooting from the floor.

-First Quarter: With just under five minutes left and the game tied at 20, Cleveland went on an 18-8 run to take their largest first-quarter lead at 38-28. Garland led the way with 10 points in the quarter. Cleveland shot 62% from the floor, including 5/5 from downtown. The Cavs led 39-30 after one, and for the fourth time this season, Cleveland scored 39-plus points in the first quarter.

-Third Quarter: The Cavs had a 68-60 halftime lead and took complete control in the third. After New York cut the lead to 76-71 with just under eight minutes in the third, Cleveland went on a 26-14 run to close the quarter and took a 102-85 lead into the fourth. The Cavs were red-hot from the field in the third as they shot 64%, including 57%(4/7) from three-point range.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

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Bottom Line:

Cleveland responded well after getting blown out by the Hawks Thursday night. They had excellent ball movement and had great energy against the Knicks. It’s just the Knicks, who were without their leading scorer Julius Randle(knee), but a win is a win, especially when you had lost five of six coming into this game.

Since being one of the top six teams in the East seems out of reach, the Cavs want to make sure they stay at the seventh spot in the East, so if necessary, they’ll have two home games in the Play-In Tournament.

Remember, seeds seven and eight have to win once in the tournament to make the playoffs, while seeds nine and ten have to win twice.

As for the standings, with four games left, the seventh-seeded Cavs are two games up on the eighth seed, the Atlanta Hawks(41-37), and three games up on the ninth-seeded Hornets(40-38) and the tenth-seeded Nets(40-38). Cleveland is two games behind the sixth seed, the Chicago Bulls(45-33), and three games behind the fifth-seeded Raptors(45-32).

Quotes:

“We’re a tough out for anybody,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about his team.

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home Sunday night to face the Philadelphia 76ers.

Best of the Rest:

-Obi Toppin led the Knicks with a career-high 20 points; Evan Fournier added 19 points.

-Kevin Love had 15 points off the bench, and Lauri Markkanen and Cedi Osman chipped in with 10 points apiece.

-Evan Mobley(ankle) missed his third straight game.

Watch below as Kevin Love reacts to win over Knicks:

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:

Osman: ‘We’re down a couple of guys, but everybody did their job for us’

After losing three straight, the Cavs came limping back home to battle the Wizards Saturday night. Of course, they were without Darius Garland(back) and Caris LeVert(foot). In addition, they were without Rajon Rondo(toe), who will be out for two weeks.

However, while it wasn’t the prettiest, they found a way to get it done. Cleveland defeated the Wizards 92-86 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland(36-24) snaps their three-game losing streak with the win, and the Wizards(27-33) have lost two straight.

Here’s the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over Washington.

The Great for the Cavs:

-For the second consecutive game, Lauri Markkanen led the team in scoring as he had 17 of his 23 points in the second half, including six threes, to go along with six rebounds. Nine of his 17 second-half points came in the fourth. On his 23rd point, Markkanen reached 4,000 career points. He was 2/9 from the floor in the first half, but he was 4/9 from the floor in the second half, including four threes.

-Jarrett Allen played like an All-Star Saturday night. He had 18 points(7/8 FG) and a game-high 14 rebounds. Late in the fourth, the All-Star took over as he scored eight straight points and gave Cleveland the lead for good on a dunk with just over three minutes to go. This was Allen’s 31st double-double of the season, which is a career-high.

-Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff challenged Evan Mobley to do more, and he responded. Mobley had a double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds(career-high-tying five offensive rebounds), and two blocks. 

-Cedi Osman gave Cleveland great production off the bench. He had 12 of his 19 points in the first half. He also added four rebounds and five assists. Osman kept Cleveland in the game in the first half as they trailed 42-40 at the break.

Defense:  It sounds cliche, but defense wins championships, and when you’re down your two best scorers, you have to hang your hat on the defensive end. The Cavs created 18 turnovers, which led to 23 points.

-To steal a phrase from Marc Zumoff, Cleveland locked all windows and doors, especially in the fourth as they held Washington to 16 points on 35% shooting from the floor. More importantly, the Wizards scored only 86 points.

The final 5:50 of the game:– After trailing 84-75(matched Washington’s largest lead of the game) with just under six minutes to go, The Cavs closed out the game on a 17-2 run. During that run, Washington was 1/10 from the floor. Isaac Okoro did a great job on Kyle Kuzma, who had 28 points, including eight after three quarters, but Okoro and the Cavs limited him to six points in the fourth.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Kevin Love struggled for the second straight game. He was 1/10 from the floor, including 0/5 from downtown, and finished with four points. Love is 2/15 from the floor in the last two games, including 1/9 from deep. Without their big guns, Cleveland needs more from Love.

Bottom Line:

It was another ugly win for the Cavs, but winning ugly is beautiful for this team. Cleveland is at their best when they defend, and defense is probably the biggest reason this team has been successful this season.

The Cavs are first in the NBA in opponents’ points per game; in addition, they have held teams below 100 points 24 times this season. 

To the Eastern Conference standings, the Cavs are now the fourth seed and are 3.5 games behind the Heat for the top spot. 

For now, Cleveland has to try to hold on until they get their big guns back.

Ouote:

“We’re down a couple of guys, but everybody did their job for us,” Osman said.

What’s Next:

The Cavs continue their three-game homestand Monday night against the Timberwolves.

Best of the Rest:

-Kuzma led Washington with 34 points and 13 rebounds. 

-Before the game, the Cavs announced that they have signed guard Tim Frazier to a 10-day contract. This season with the Magic, Frazier appeared in 10 games (3 starts), averaging 3.7 points and 3.3 assists in 20.0 minutes per contest.

Watch below as Osman talks win over Wizards:

 

Cavs’ Mobley, Okoro selected as Rising Stars

Cleveland Cavaliers forward/center Evan Mobley and guard Isaac Okoro have been selected as Rising Stars, the NBA announced tonight.

The 2022 Rising Stars will be played on Friday, February 18 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland as part of NBA All-Star 2022.

Mobley, the number three pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, is averaging 14.8 points on .505 shooting from the field, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.72 blocks (sixth-most in NBA) in 34.2 minutes over 43 games (all starts). The rookie center from USC is leading all NBA rookies in rebounds, blocks, field goal percentage, plus/minus (+136) and dunks (86) while ranking second in points, minutes and double-doubles (10) and sixth in assists. Mobley won the Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month award for October and November and is currently one of only three players in the entire NBA averaging at least 14.0 points, 8.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks (Rudy Gobert and Anthony Davis). 

In 2021-22, Okoro has appeared in 36 games (30 starts) with averages of 9.1 points and 3.3 rebounds in 28.5 minutes per contest. The Auburn University product has scored in double figures in 14 games, including two 20-point performances, and his plus/minus of +92 is the sixth-best among all rookie and sophomore players. 

This year’s Rising Stars will feature four seven-player teams competing in a mini-tournament consisting of three games.  Mobley and Okoro will be part of a pool of 28 players for Rising Stars that consists of 12 first-year NBA players, 12 second-year NBA players and four elite young players from NBA G League Ignite, a first-of-its-kind team dedicated to developing top prospects in preparation for the NBA Draft. The combined 24 first- and second-year NBA players for Rising Stars were selected by NBA assistant coaches, with each of the league’s 30 teams submitting one ballot per coaching staff.  The four NBA G League Ignite players were selected by NBA G League head coaches.

Each team will be coached by a member of the NBA 75 team and assistant coaches from the 2022 All-Star Game, who will draft their squads on an earlier date prior to the tournament. There will be one NBA G League Ignite player on each team. Each game will be played to a Final Target Score, meaning that a game will end with a made basket or a made free throw instead of with the clock running out. It will be a “Race to 75” to celebrate the league’s 75th anniversary season — Games 1 and 2 will be played until a team reaches 50 points; Game 3 will be played until a team reaches 25 points.

In addition, a timed shooting competition called the Clutch Challenge will take place between Games 2 and 3 of Clorox Rising Stars. A total of eight NBA and NBA G League Ignite players will be divided into four teams of two and compete to make shots from five locations on the court tied to iconic shots made in the NBA Playoffs.

Each team will compete with one shared ball and its players must alternate shots so no player shoots two times consecutively. Team 1 is given 1 minute and 30 seconds (1:30 counting down) to make a shot from each of the five locations in any order. Team 1’s time is then the marker for Team 2. If Team 1’s time is 1:15, then Team 2 will have a 1:15 countdown clock to complete the competition. Each team that establishes a new standard sets the clock for the next team competing, and the fastest finisher will win the Clutch Challenge.

 

Cavs Love on Garland: ‘I’ve been telling him, keep leading us’

The Cleveland Cavaliers came into Monday’s game against the New York Knicks without two valuable pieces in Lauri Markkanen(ankle) and Jarrett Allen(illness). However, like we’ve seen throughout this season with Cleveland, it’s next man up. 

Ed Davis and Dean Wade got the start for the Cavaliers.

Kevin Love scored a team-high 20 points off the bench as the Cavs would defeat the Knicks 95-93 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

The Knicks, who were on the second half of a back-to-back after defeating the Clippers on Sunday, had a chance to beat Cleveland at the buzzer, but Julius Randle’s three was wide.

Cleveland(29-19) has won two straight and seven of eight, while the Knicks(23-25) have lost four of five. 

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Kevin Love gave Cleveland the lift they needed off the bench. Love had 20 points, including six threes. He also added 11 rebounds. The 14-year veteran went off in the third as he scored 14 on four threes. Love also had a milestone as he moved into fourth place on the team’s all-time defensive rebounds list.

-Evan Mobley had his second straight double-double as he scored 15 points and 12 rebounds. He also added five assists. This was Mobley’s 15th consecutive game in double figures.

-For the fifth straight game, Darius Garland had a double-double. The third-year guard had 13 points and 12 assists. This was Garland’s seventh double-double in eight games. In addition, with the score tied at 91, Garland made the game-winning three with 1:23 to go in the fourth.  

According to ESPN’s Stats and Info, Garland recorded his fifth straight game with 10 assists,  tying LeBron James (2017-18) for the longest streak by any Cavaliers player over the last 10 seasons.

-Isaac Okoro brought energy and effort against the Knicks. He was all over the court and finished with 14 points and six rebounds. 

Third Quarter: New York and Cleveland were tied at 50 at the break. In the third, Love came alive as he scored 14 of his 20 points in the quarter. With just over five minutes left in the third and the game knotted at 61, Love got hot, and the Cavs went on a 15-1 run to take a 76-62 lead. The five-time All-Star scored 11 points during that run.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Turnovers: On Saturday against OKC, Cleveland had a season-high 23 turnovers, and Monday night, they added 20 more turnovers, which is a combined 43 turnovers in two games. We keep saying all these turnovers are going to lead to a loss. However, Cleveland has found ways to get it done. 

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland took their largest lead of 15 points at the 9:41 mark in the final period, but they let the Knicks creep back in. New York went on a 20-5 run to knot the game at 91. The Knicks would outscore Cleveland 24-19 in the fourth. The Cavs had trouble scoring in the fourth as they shot 26.3% from the floor and went over five minutes without a field goal. However, again, the Cavs would find a way to get things done. 

Bottom Line:

The Cavaliers were missing 2/3 of their frontcourt Monday night and did not really play a good game against the Knicks. However, good teams find ways to win games when they are not at their best, and it’s clear the Cavs fall under the good team category. 

With the win, Cleveland continues to move up the standings. The fifth-seeded Cavs are 1.5 games behind the Heat for the top spot in the East, and one of the teams they’re chasing, the fourth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, comes to Cleveland Wednesday night.

 “I’ve been telling him, keep leading us,” Love said about Garland after the game.

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers conclude their three-game homestand Wednesday night against the world champion Milwaukee Bucks. 

Best of the Rest:

Dean Wade had 13 points, including four threes and five rebounds. Rajon Rondo, who missed six games due to a hamstring injury, had eight points, four rebounds, and three assists off the bench.

-RJ Barrett led the Knicks with a game-high 24 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists. Randle added 18 points, seven rebounds, and four assists.

Watch below as Love and head coach J.B Bickerstaff talks big win over Knicks:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Nets: ‘It’s a signature win for us against a high-level team’

The Cleveland Cavaliers returned home Monday to face the Brooklyn Nets on MLK Day after an impressive 5-1 road trip. The Cavs came into this game on a four-game winning streak and playing maybe their best ball of the season.

Brooklyn was without the league’s leader scorer, Kevin Durant(knee), who they could have used down the stretch.  Behind Darius Garland’s 22 points and 12 assists, Cleveland held on to defeat Brooklyn 114-107 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

With the win, Cleveland(27-18) has won five straight and six out of their last seven, while Brooklyn(27-16) has lost two of their last three. 

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-During the game, it was announced that Darius Garland was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, and on Monday, he started this week the right way. Garland had 22 points, six rebounds, and 12 assists. With just over three minutes left in the fourth and the game tied at 105, Garland assisted on a Lauri Markkanen three, and later, an Evan Mobley dunk that gave Cleveland a 110-105 lead with just over a minute left to go. He made all the right moves for the Cavaliers against Brooklyn.

-Jarrett Allen had his third consecutive double-double with 14 points(6/6 FG) and 10 rebounds. He also had two big blocks. This was Allen’s fourth double-double in five games.

-Isaac Okoro returned to the starting lineup and was good on both ends of the court. Okoro had 15 points and two steals. In the fourth, the second-year guard did a great job on Kyrie Irving and helped limit the former Cavalier to four points on 2/7 shooting from the field. In addition, he put an exclamation point on the game when he stole an errant James Harden pass and finished it off with a jam to give Cleveland a 112-107 lead with 15.8 seconds to go.

-Lauri Markkanen had 14 points, including 4/9 from deep and six rebounds. Markkanen had made some big shots on the Cavs’ six-game road trip, and that continued Monday when he made a big three to give the Cavs the lead for good in the fourth.

-Fourth Quarter: Cleveland trailed 88-87 after three quarters. However, in the fourth, the Cavaliers took control of the game. Cleveland stepped up defensively as they held Brooklyn to 30% shooting, including 0/4 from downtown. 

In addition, the Cavs shot 57% from the floor and made play after play down the stretch to get the win. Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 27-19 in the fourth.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Great win for the Cavs. We could find some bad, but not on this day.

Bottom Line:

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff called this victory a “signature win” for Cleveland, and while this was a big win, a signature win might be a stretch because Brooklyn was without their best player in Kevin Durant. However, again, this was a big win.

If we look at the Eastern Conference standings, we see the Cavs slowly working their way up. At this point, Cleveland(fourth seed) is 1.5 games behind the Bulls(27-15) for the best record in the East, and they play the Bulls on Wednesday, so they could get even closer with a win. 

“It’s a signature win for us against a high-level team,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “Obviously with reasons why and excuses coming back off that long road trip and all those things, playing against two of the most elite players in our league, and our guys figuring out a way.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads back on the road to battle the Bulls in Chicago Wednesday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Kyrie Irving led the Nets with 27 points to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists. James Harden had 22 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists. Brooklyn had six players in double figures, including all five starters.

-Kevin Love had 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists off the bench, and rookie Evan Mobley had 12 points and six rebounds. It was the 12th straight game in double figures for Mobley.

Cleveland also had six players in double figures, and like Brooklyn, all five starters scored in double figures.

Lamar Stevens(knee) and Rajon Rondo(hamstring) missed Monday’s action.

Watch below as Garland and Okoro react to big win over Nets:

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Hawks: ‘We let our guard down and it came back to bite us’

The Cavaliers started a three-game homestand Friday night against the Hawks. Cleveland got the start they wanted and had a 15-point halftime lead.

However, the Hawks picked it up in the second half and took the lead for good in the third. Cleveland had one last chance to tie the game late, but Kevin Pangos missed a three at the buzzer, and Atlanta defeated the Cavaliers 121-118.

Cleveland(20-16) has now lost three straight and four out of the last five, and Atlanta(16-19) snapped their three-game losing streak.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Love is in the air!! Kevin Love had a season and team-high 35 points, including a game-high seven threes, 11 rebounds, and four assists in 30 minutes of action. According to Elias Sports, he’s the only Cavaliers’ player to tally 35-plus points and 10-plus rebounds off the bench since 1975. Love has been a great weapon off the bench, and this is his fourth straight game of 20-plus points or more. 

-Jarrett Allen is back after missing four games due to health and safety protocols. Allen picked up where he left off and scored 21 points(9/11 FG) and grabbed eight rebounds.

-Evan Mobley just gets it done. The rookie stuffed the stat sheet Friday night. He scored 16 points, grabbed eight rebounds, dished out five assists, and blocked three shots. This season, Mobley has tallied 14 multi-block games and leads all NBA rookies in blocked shots (51 blocks).

-Brandon Goodwin signed with the Cavaliers Friday and made his debut the same day. He had 13 points, six assists, four rebounds in 25 minutes of action off the bench. 

First Half: Cleveland shot 70% from the field(28/40 FG), including 5/11 from downtown in the first half. The Cavs shared the ball as they had 19 assists on 28 field goals. Cleveland had 42 points in the paint and took a 66-51 lead at halftime.

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

Third Quarter: Things got bad for the Cavs in the third. Atlanta went on an 11-0 run to take a three-point late and outscored the Cavs 40-22 in the quarter. The Hawks shot 62% from the floor, and Trae Young scored 12 of his 35 points in the third as Atlanta took a 91-88 lead into the fourth.

Three-point shooting: In the past three games, including Friday’s night loss to the Hawks. Cleveland has shot the three ball well in the first quarter, but it falls apart after that.

On Friday night, the Cavaliers shot 4/6 from deep in the first quarter. After that, they were 4/19 from three-point range against Atlanta.

In the last three games, they’ve shot (17/27)63% from three in the first quarter. However, in quarters two through four, they’ve shot 13/67(19%) the rest of the way.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland needs point guard help badly, and it continues to be a struggle without Garland and Ricky Rubio. Fortunately, Garland will be back at some point. It’s a difficult time for the Cavaliers, just like every NBA team, because of health and safety protocols.

We’ve seen what the Cavs look like when they’re whole, and that will happen soon enough, minus Rubio. In addition, they will get Rajon Rondo, so maybe that will help.

However, give Young credit. He’s a star, and stars make things happen, and that’s what he did Friday night for the Hawks.

“We were complacent because we had a lead, but you have to understand they’ve got winners over there who just went to the Eastern Conference finals,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We let our guard down and it came back to bite us.”

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers return to action Sunday when they host the Indiana Pacers.

Best of the Rest:

-Atlanta had six players in double figures. Young led the Hawks with 35 points and 11 assists. Clint Capela added 18 points and 23 rebounds, and Skylar Mays chipped in with 19 points.

-Isaac Okoro added 10 points(4/4 FG) for the Cavs. Cleveland was without Garland (Health and Safety Protocols) and Cedi Osman (Health and Safety Protocols).

-Atlanta had 12 players out due to health and safety protocols: Bodgan Bogdanovic, John Collins,  Sharife Cooper, Gorgui Dieng,  Malik Ellison, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter, Malcolm Hill, Jalen Johnson, Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, Onyeka Okongwu, Delon Wright.

 

Cavs’ Garland: ‘Our mindset all season is to play all 48 minutes’

The Cleveland Cavaliers have led from start to finish in three out of the last four games, including Wednesday’s 124-89 blowout win over the visiting Houston Rockets.

Cleveland led by as many as 32 points in the first half, and Houston never threatened from there. The Cavs had their largest lead of 45 in the third, and a significant part of the second half was extended garbage time. 

All 13 Cavalier players scored against Houston. 

The Cavaliers(18-12) swept their three-game homestand and have won five straight and nine of 11. Cleveland has won five straight for the time since LeBron James was in the Land(2018).

Houston’s(9-19) two-game winning streak ended Wednesday night.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Where do you begin when you win by 35?

First Half: In the first quarter, the Cavaliers outscored the Rockets 35-16, and they went on an 18-0 run from the end of the first into the second quarter to take a 47-16. In the first half, Cleveland shot 54.8% from the field, including 9/17 from three-point range. Additionally, the Cavs held Houston to 30% shooting. They also forced 10 Houston turnovers and led 69-38 at the break

In the last five games at halftime, Cleveland has held the following leads:

+31 (69-38) Houston

+11 (55-44) Miami

29 (81-52) Sacramento

+21 (65-44) @Timberwolves

+9 (52-43) Bulls

First Half Rubio: Ricky Rubio gave Cleveland a great lift off the bench in the first half. Rubio scored seven points and dished out eight of his game-high 12 assists in the half. Additionally, Rubio ended the half with a team-best +29 rating. He also finished the game with four steals.

First Half Garland:  Darius Garland scored 17 points in the opening half, including three threes. The third-year guard was 6/8 from the field and 3/4 from downtown. Garland had a +25 rating in the first half and finished with a game-high 21 points. 

Isaac Okoro, Isaac Okoro, Isaac Okoro. He’s playing with so much confidence right now. He scored 11 of his 20 points in the first half as he shot 7/9 from the floor, including 3/3 from three-point range. This is his fourth straight game in double figures and his second 20-point game during this stretch. In those four games, Okoro is shooting 70% from the floor.

Okoro also had this sick dunk:

The backcourt of Garland and Okoro combined for 41 points on 14/20 shooting from the field, including 6/9 from downtown. They were sizzling Wednesday night. 

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Absolutely nothing to see here. You lead by as many as 45 points, and you win by 35; you did everything right.

Bottom Line:

Five straight and nine out of 11 is impressive. The Rockets were a depleted team(Christian Wood, Eric Gordon out), and Cleveland took full advantage. The Cavs continue to blow teams out as they defeated all three teams on this homestand by a combined 60 points. Cleveland, who is the fourth-seeded team in the East, is now three games behind the number one seed in the East, the Brooklyn Nets.

“Our mindset all season is to play all 48 minutes. We did that tonight,” Garland said.

What’s Next:

The Cavaliers go on the road for three games, starting Saturday night against the world champion Milwaukee Bucks. 

Best of the Rest:

Dean Wade, who started for the injured Evan Mobley(hip), had his first double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Kevin Love added 15 points(3/5 3pt FG), and Lauri Markkanen chipped in with 12 

Alperen Sengun led Houston with a career-best 19 points and 11 rebounds off the bench. 

Rockets head coach Stephen Silas left the game in the first half with dehydration and did not return. Assistant John Lucas coached the rest of the way for Houston.

Watch below as Garland and Okoro react to the win over Houston:

 

 

 

 

Cavs’ Love: ‘We’re living in the moment, but our big-picture goals are toward the end of the year’

The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their winning ways Monday night as they defeated the Miami Heat 105-94 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland led the whole second half,  but in the fourth, Miami cut the Cavs lead to five with over eight minutes left. However, Cleveland would go on an 8-0 run to push the lead to 13. From there, the Cavs would have their largest lead of 16 and would coast the rest of the way. 

The Cavs had five players in double figures Monday night.

Cleveland(17-12) has now won four straight for the third time this season, while the Heat’s(16-12) two-game winning streak was snapped.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Second Half Kevin Love: The 13-year veteran got hot in the second half. Love scored a season-high 23 points, all in the second half. Love was 6/8 from the field in the second half, including five threes(5/7). He also added nine rebounds.

Love is shooting the ball well right now and has made three-plus threes in five consecutive games.

-Isaac Okoro has been solid in the last three games. He scored 18 points, including four threes(ties career-high) Monday night, and he also helped limit Duncan Robinson to six points on 1/7 from downtown.

This was Okoro’s third straight game of at least 16 points or more, and during this stretch, he’s  averaging 18 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game. Furthermore, in the last three, Okoro is 7-14(50%) from three-point range.

-Jarrett Allen had 12 of his 18 points(6/6 FG) in the first half, and while his three-game double-double streak was snapped, he did grab eight rebounds and added a block.

Second Quarter: Cleveland outscored the Heat 32-19 in the quarter, and after trailing 25-23 in the first, the Cavaliers took a 55-44 lead at the break. Cleveland turned things up defensively as they held the Heat to 38% shooting from the floor, including 2/12 from three-point range(16.7%).

-Lamar Stevens did not give the Cavaliers much offensively(three points), but he gave Cleveland a big lift with his energy. He, along with Okoro, helped limit Miami’s three-point shooting as Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson were a combined 1/10 from three-point range.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Third Quarter: Miami started the third on a 10-0 to cut the Cavs’ 11-point halftime lead to one. The Heat outscored Cleveland 29-23 in the quarter. Miami shot the ball well in third as they ended the quarter, shooting 58% from the floor and making five threes(5/9). The Heat cut the Cavs’ lead to 78-73, heading into the fourth. 

Bottom Line:

Cleveland is now 8-2 in their last 10 games and won those eight games by at least 11 points or more. In addition, five(Heat twice) of those eight wins are against teams above .500. 

Every night it seems like someone different steps up for this team. Tonight, it was Love and Okoro.

The chemistry Cleveland has is special, and after 29 games, they are the fourth seed in the East. Unreal!!

“We’re living in the moment, but our big-picture goals are toward the end of the year,” Love said.

What’s Next:

Cleveland’s three-game homestand concludes Wednesday night against the Rockets.

Best of the Rest:

Ricky Rubio had seven points and seven assists. Rubio hit a significant milestone Monday night as he recorded his 5,000 assist to the man he started his career in Minnesota with, Kevin Love.

Darius Garland had 16 points, five assists, and three steals.

P.J. Tucker led Miami with 23 points and nine rebounds, including five threes, and Kyle Lowry added 22 points(four threes) and five assists. Miami had five players in double figures.

Watch below as Love, Okoro, Allen react to Cavs’ win:

Cavs’ Garland: ‘The sky is the limit because we have so much talent’

For the second straight game and night, the Cleveland Cavaliers led from start to finish, and for the second straight game and night, the Cavaliers had seven players in double figures as they defeated the Sacramento Kings 117-103 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Saturday night.

The Cavaliers routed the Timberwolves 123-106 in Minnesota Friday night.

Cleveland led by as many as 29 points against Sacramento and took a 23-point lead into the fourth. The Kings would cut the lead to seven after a 18-2 run, but they ran out of time.

The Cavs(16-12) have won three straight and are 7-2 in the last nine games; Sacramento(11-16) dropped their second consecutive game.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Second Quarter: What a first half for Cleveland! They scored 81 points, which tied a team record for the most points in a first half, but let’s go back to that second quarter. The Cavaliers put up a near-team record of 45 points. They turned a 13-point first-quarter lead to a 29-point halftime bulge(81-52). Cleveland finished the quarter on an 18-4 run and shot 62% from the floor. 

Second Quarter Cedi Osman. He went off in the quarter, scoring 13 points, including 3/3 from downtown. At one point, Osman scored eight straight points for the Cavaliers. Osman, who has been solid off the Cavs’ bench this season, finished the game with 18 points(all in the first half/career-high for a half).

-After recording a season-high 16 points Friday night against Minnesota, Isaac Okoro scored 11 of his season-high 20 points in the first quarter. He scored on drives and was 2/3 from downtown. Okoro finished the game shooting 7/8 from the floor. He also had four rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

-Darius Garland had his second consecutive double-double with 15 points and a career-high 13 assists. He also added six rebounds and three steals. This was Garland’s eighth double-double of the season. Over the last nine games, he’s averaging 20.6 points, 9.1 assists on 50.7% shooting, including 47% from downtown. 

-Jarrett Allen did what Jarrett Allen always does, and that’s record a double-double. Allen had his third straight double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds. He also did it on the defensive end with three blocks and two steals. Allen had his 10th double-double in the last 11 games, and he recorded the 100th double-double of his career.

-Evan Mobley is just so good. He had 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds, and he became the first rookie for Cleveland to have a 15 and 15 game since Tristian Thompson, who was in the house Saturday as a member of the Kings.

-Ricky Rubio had 15 points, three assists, and three steals. He also had two big threes in the fourth when the Kings were making their run.

Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Fourth Quarter: Look, the Kings cut the lead to seven and outscored Cleveland 25-16 in the final period, and at one point went on a 18-2 run. It appeared Cleveland let it up a little bit, but this could a lesson for them, they have to learn how to close teams out, which will come in time.

Bottom Line:

The Cavaliers should have beaten the Kings, and they did, and they are not just beating teams; they are blowing them out. Cleveland has won the last three games by at least 14 points.

Cleveland scored 81 points in the first half, which is so impressive.

Also, if Okoro keeps playing at a high level on the offensive end, to go along with his stellar defense, the Cavaliers will be tough to beat. 

“The sky is the limit because we have so much talent, and we’re so young, but we also have some veterans to help lead the way,” Garland said.

What’s Next:

Cleveland continues their three-game homestand Monday night against the Heat.

Best of the Rest:

-Kevin Love added 11 points, including 3/3 from downtown Saturday night. Love his shooting 50% from three-point range in the last seven games. 

-Buddy Hield led Sacramento with 21 points.

Watch below as Mobley, Garland, and Okoro react to the big win over Sacramento: