Cavs run out of gas in OKC

The Cavs(30-21) finished their three-game road trip in OKC against the Thunder(24-25) on Friday night. Cleveland was without Donovan Mitchell(groin), Ricky Rubio(rest), and Kevin Love(back) and was on a second half of a back-to-back after their win over the Rockets in Houston on Thursday night.

Cleveland led early but faded late and fell to the Thunder 112-100 at Paycom Center.

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

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

The Great:

Darius Garland led the Cavs with 31 points and 13 assists. 23 of his 31 points came in the second half.

Evan Mobley had another strong performance with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. This was Mobley’s second straight 20-10 game, and Mobley grabbed his 1,000th career rebound on Friday night.

Not So Great:

Caris LeVert was 1/12 from the field, including 0/6 from deep; he finished with two points and nine assists. Without Mitchell, the Cavs needed LeVert to be better. 

Second Half: Cleveland led 54-47 at halftime, but they were outscored 65-46 in the second half. OKC shot 59% from the field in that second half and 7/11 from deep, and they closed the game the right way. Conversely, the Cavs shot 39% from the field.

Bottom Line:

No Mitchell, no Love, and no Rubio, and the Cavs just ran out of gas in the second half of a back-to-back. The Cavs did not have the energy to hold OKC off.

However, this is not a bad loss. You’re without your best player on a back-to-back against a solid Thunder team on the road, so the loss is excusable.

The Cavs are a very good team, but their road woes(10-16) prevent them from being great.

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home on Sunday to face the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Best of the Rest:

-Shai Gilgeous-Alexander had 35 points, five rebounds, and eight assists. Jalen Williams added 17 points, including 3/3 from deep; Josh Giddey chipped in with 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists.

-Jarrett Allen had 13 points and nine rebounds for the Cavaliers.

The Great, Not So Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ win over Pelicans

Cleveland returned home on Monday night to face the New Orleans Pelicans after a 2-3 west coast road trip.

The Cavs(28-17), who got off to a slow start, trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half. However, Cleveland finally woke up in the second half and defeated the Pelicans(26-18) 113-103 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Donovan Mitchell left in the third quarter with a groin injury and did not return.

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

Great:

Darius Garland scored 25 of his game-high 30 points in the second half. In addition, he added 11 assists. Garland got off to a slow start, but he was big in the second half, especially the fourth, where he scored 14 points.

Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley: Allen(9/12) had a season-high tying 24 points, 11 rebounds, and five assists, while Mobley(8/10) had 19 points and eight rebounds. The two were a combined 17/22 from the field, and Allen was big in the fourth as he had 12 points.

Fourth Quarter: The Cavs played their best ball in the final stanza. Garland and Allen combined for 26 of the team’s 35 points in the quarter. From the end of the third into the fourth, Cleveland went on a 15-0 run and never relinquished the lead.

The Cavs outscored the Pelicans 35-22 in the fourth. 

Not So Great:

Cleveland’s turnovers were high(15), and the first half wasn’t the best, but they still got the job done.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland got off to a slow start; maybe it was because it was an afternoon game, but credit them for bouncing back in the second half as they continue to be dominant at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Mitchell did leave with a groin injury, and hopefully, that’s nothing serious.

What’s Next:

Cleveland travels to Memphis to battle the Grizzlies on Wednesday night. 

Best of the Rest:

-C.J. McCollum led the Pelicans with 25 points; Jonas Valanciunas had 22 points and 13 rebounds.

-Donovan Mitchell and Isaac Okoro had 11 points apiece.

-Cleveland is now 19-4 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

-According to Cavs Notes, this was Cleveland’s 11th win this season after trailing by at least 10 points.

Cavs fall short in Minnesota

The Cavaliers(27-17) finished their five-game road trip in Minnesota against the Timberwolves(22-22) on Saturday night.

In this contest, Cleveland had their largest lead of 14 points in the third quarter, but behind 26 points from Anthony Edwards and 56 points from their bench, Minnesota defeated the Cavs 110-102 at Target Center.

Cleveland finished their five-game road trip 2-3.

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

Great:

Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley led the way with 19 points apiece. Allen was 8/10 from the field, while Mobley was 6/11. Allen added eight rebounds and two blocks, while Mobley chipped in with eight boards.

Not So Great:

Donovan Mitchell had been battling an illness, and it impacted his play. Mitchell was 5/16 from the field, including 2/9 from deep. He finished with 14 points, three rebounds, and six assists. In fact, the Cavs’ backcourt combined for only 29 points. Darius Garland had 15 points for Cleveland.

Turnovers: Cleveland had 18 turnovers, which led to 28 points for Minnesota. Five of their 18 turnovers were in the fourth, and the Timberwolves scored 13 points off those fourth-quarter turnovers. It’s hard to win when you turn the ball over at that rate.

Fourth Quarter: The Cavs led 80-77 after three quarters, but defensively, they fell apart in the fourth. Minnesota shot 73% from the field in the final quarter, and much of that production came from their bench. Jaylen Nowell(eight points), Luke Garza(seven points), Naz Reid(five points), and Austin Rivers(four points) combined for 24 of Minnesota’s 33 fourth-quarter points.  Minnesota outscored Cleveland 33-22 in the fourth.

Overall, Minnesota shot 56% from the field. 

Bottom Line:

The five-game road trip ends in disappointment. Again, it comes down to being able to close out games. Two(Minnesota, Utah) of the three losses on this trip came down to being unable to finish the job. They will have to learn how to do that on the road. Winning in the NBA is challenging, and winning on the road is even more challenging, but elite teams figure it out.

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home on Monday to face the Pelicans on MLK Jr. Day.

Best of the Rest:

-Caris LeVert had 12 points off the bench for Cleveland.

-Rudy Gobert(groin) did not play in the second half.

-Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love, who both were drafted and played for the Timberwolves, checked in together in the first quarter and received a massive ovation from the crowd. Rubio was playing his second game after returning from a torn ACL.

-With the win, Minnesota(2-0) sweeps the season-series versus the Cavs.

Cavs’ Mitchell shines in return to Utah, but it wasn’t enough

On Tuesday night, Donovan Mitchell came back to Utah for the first time since the trade that sent him to Cleveland in the offseason.

In his return, Mitchell, who spent the first five seasons of his career with the Jazz, got a lot of cheers from the fans in Utah.

However, while he was special(46 points), the Cavs(26-16) would fall to the Jazz(20-22) 116-114 at Vivint Arena.

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

Great:

Donovan Mitchell returned to Utah and balled out. He scored 17 of his 46 points(14/27 FG, 7/18 3-PT FG) in the fourth to go along with five rebounds, six assists, and three steals. Mitchell brought the Cavs all the way back from a 13-point third-quarter deficit, but it wasn’t enough.

In the loss, Mitchell recorded his 500th career steal. 

Darius Garland had 21 points, five rebounds, and six assists as the Cavs’ backcourt combined for 67 of the team’s 114 points.

First 10:37 of the Fourth Quarter: At one point in the fourth, Mitchell scored 10 straight for the Cavs and gave them a 101-94 lead with just over six minutes to go, which was their largest lead of the quarter. It appeared, at that point, that Cleveland was in control.

Not So Great:

The last 1:23 of the Fourth Quarter: The last 1:23 belonged to Jordan Clarkson, who scored 15 of his team-high 32 points in the fourth.

With the Cavs leading 107-102, Clarkson took over. He hit a step-back three, plus the foul, which was ruled a flagrant foul on Caris LeVert, and with the free throw, the score was 107-106.

Because of the flagrant foul, Utah would retain possession of the ball.  Clarkson was again fouled by LeVert shooting a three, and he made all three free throws to give Utah a 109-107 lead.

With 40 seconds to go, and Utah leading 109-107, Clarkson would hit a floater to seal the deal. 

Rebounding: The Jazz outrebounded the Cavs 54-37 in this contest and had 27-second chance points. The Cavs played most of the game without their starting center and leading rebounder Jarrett Allen, who left the game in the first quarter with an illness and did not return. 

Bottom Line:

This was an emotional night, and again, it appeared Mitchell was going to have a happy homecoming, but as J.B.Bickertstaff had said about the Cavs in the past, they have to learn how to close out games on the road. This was a perfect example of not closing the deal.

What’s Next:

The Cavs return to action on Thursday night in Portland against the Blazers.

Best of the Rest:

Lauri Markkanen had 25 points and 16 rebounds against his former team. Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Malik Beasley, and Mike Conley each had 13 points.

For the Cavs, Evan Mobley had 12 points and seven rebounds; LeVert had 12 points, and Lamar Stevens added 11 off the bench.

Back to Mitchell, according to Elias Sports, his 46 points were the second-most in a player’s first road game versus a former team.

Cavs dominate Suns in the fourth to get road win

The Cavs(26-15) continued their five-game road trip in Phoenix against the Suns on Sunday night. After resting in the team’s loss to the Nuggets on Friday night, Cleveland got back their leading scorer Donovan Mitchell. 

Fortunately for the Cavs, the Suns(20-21) were without their starting backcourt of Chris Paul(hip) and Devin Booker(groin), and ultimately, Cleveland led by as many as 22 points and defeated Phoenix 112-98 at Footprint Center.

With the win, the Cavs, who beat the Suns 90-88 last week at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, swept the season-series.

Cleveland has won four out of their last five, while the Suns have lost six straight.

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

Great:

Starting Backcourt: Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland had 22 points apiece. Garland added seven assists. Mitchell and Garland combined for 44 points, and they were reunited, and it felt so good.

Jarrett Allen had his team-leading 15th double-double on Sunday with 13 points, a game-high 12 rebounds, and a season-high five assists. 

Shooting: Cleveland shot 57% from the field against the Suns. Cleveland made 11 threes on Sunday night, but most of their damage came in the paint, as the Cavs had 52 points in the paint.

According to Cavs Notes, this is their highest field goal percentage in any road game since 2015.

Fourth Quarter: The Cavs took an 80-79 lead into the fourth, and they took over from there. Cleveland went on a 23-4 run to take a 103-83 lead with just under four minutes to go. The Cavs shot 66% from the field in the fourth, outscored the Suns 32-19 in the quarter, and a close game became a rout!

Not So Great:

After that fourth quarter for the Cavs, there are no complaints. Turnovers(14) were a little high, but hey, they won.

Bottom Line:

In the NBA, when you have an opportunity to defeat a team that is down, you have to get the job done, and that’s what the Cavs did on Sunday night. They took advantage of a depleted Suns team. 

The Cavs have reached the halfway point of their schedule, and after 41 games, here are a few things we know about this team:

-Donovan Mitchell is the real deal

-The Cavs are an outstanding home team(18-4) 

-The Cavs are a mediocre road team(8-11)

-Cleveland is a great defensive team(the number one-rated defensive team in NBA)

-They are legitimate contenders in the Eastern Conference and could make a deep playoff run

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads to Utah to battle the Jazz on Tuesday night as Mitchell faces off against his former team.

Best of the Rest:

Evan Mobley and Isaac Okoro had 14 points apiece, and Caris LeVert had 13 points off the bench. Cleveland had six players in double figures, including all five starters.

For the Suns, Duane Washington Jr. led the Suns with 25 points off the bench, and Deandre Ayton had a double-double with 14 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists.

Cavs stumble on the road against Nuggets

The Cavs(25-15) began their five-game road trip in Denver against the Nuggets(26-13) on Friday night. Cleveland would not have the services of their leading scorer Donovan Mitchell(rest). However, they did get Darius Garland back, who missed two games with a sprained thumb, but it wasn’t enough.

Denver had seven players in double figures, including all five starters, as they defeated the Cavs 121-108 at Ball Arena.

Cleveland’s three-game winning streak was snapped, while the Nuggets have won two straight.

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

Great:

Caris LeVert led the Cavs with a team-high 22 points, including three threes. This was the third time in four games that LeVert has scored 20-plus points.

Cedi Osman gave the Cavs a nice lift off the bench. He scored 10 of his 15 points(6/10 FG, 3/3 3-point FG) in the first half. 

Not So Great:

Defense: Cleveland allowed the Nuggets to score 121 points on 53% shooting, including 49% from downtown. The Nuggets made 17 threes. Cleveland has the number one-rated defense in the NBA, but the defense betrayed them on Friday night.

Third Quarter: Denver led 62-58 at the break, and they took over the game in the third. They outscored the Cavs 32-24 and had their best shooting quarter of the game. Denver shot 55% in the quarter, including 50% from three-point range.

Cleveland, like most teams, had no answers for Nikola Jokic as he scored 11 points on 4/5 shooting from the field and was 3/3 from deep in the quarter.

After a Bones Hyland three late in the third, Denver had its largest lead of the quarter at 94-79 and would take a 12-point lead into the fourth.

Cleveland got the lead down to nine in the fourth, but they did not get much closer.

Free Throw Shooting: Cleveland was an abysmal 18/32(56%) from the charity stripe. The biggest culprit? Evan Mobley, who was 0/6 from the line.

Bottom Line:

Defeating the Nuggets in Denver would have been tough with Mitchell, and without him, it became an even more difficult proposition. As good as Cleveland is, this is a game you probably said would have been a loss when you looked at this west coast trip, so in reality, there’s no shame in losing to the team with the best record in the West on the road.

However, the Cavs(7-11) need to be better on the road.

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads to Phoenix to face the Suns on Sunday night.

Best of the Rest:

Jokic had a triple-double for the Nuggets with 28 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals; Jamal Murray added 18. 

For the Cavs, who had six players in double figures, Garland had 21 points and eight assists. Jarrett Allen had 13 points and nine rebounds, and Mobley had 12 points and nine rebounds.

For the second time in five days, a game was delayed in Denver due to rim issues. This game was delayed for over eight minutes early in the fourth, and against the Celtics a few days ago, the game was delayed for 35 minutes.

Cavs lose third straight as road woes continue against Pacers

The Cavs(22-14) begin a two-game road trip in Indy against the Pacers(19-17), and the Cavs have now lost three straight as they fell to the Pacers 135-126 at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

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

Great:

Jarrett Allen had 19 points and 14 rebounds. Allen was a perfect 5/5 and had 13 points in the fourth. He battled against the Pacers. This was Allen’s 14th double-double of the season.

Donovan Mitchell had a team-high 28 points. He didn’t shoot a high percentage, as he was 10/25 from the field, but he was 5/11 from deep.

Cleveland had seven players in double figures.

Not So Great:

Defense: For the third straight game, Cleveland allowed a team shot 50 percent or more; the Pacers shot 57% from the floor and 61% from downtown. Indiana made 19 threes.

Also, the Cavs allowed a season-high 135 points. In addition, the Cavs allowed the Pacers to score 30-plus points in three quarters.

Fourth Quarter: Cavs had their largest lead of seven with 9:29 in the fourth, and the Pacers would tie things up at 113 with just under seven minutes to go, and with just over five minutes to go and the Pacers trailing by 1, Indy would go on a 7-0 run to take control! 

Bottom Line:

The Cavs’ road woes continue. They could have defended better, which cost them. You score 126 points in regulation; most nights, you will win. 

Cleveland has now lost three straight and fell to 6-10 on the road. It’s still early, but based on how things are bunched up in the East, a few losses could drop them in the standings.

Something to keep an eye on is Darius Garland, who left and returned after injuring his thumb in the fourth quarter. According to cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, Garland left the locker room with a bag of ice wrapped around his right hand, and the team has some concerns. Let’s hope for the best.

What’s Next:

Cleveland finishes 2022 in Chicago as they face the Bulls on Saturday night.

Best of the Rest:

Indiana had four players with 20-plus points. Tyrese Haliburton led the way with 29 points, including six threes; Buddy Hield had 26 points, including five threes; Bennedict Mathurin chipped in with 23 points off the bench, and Aaron Nesmith added 22.

Hield also made history as he made a three off the opening tip three seconds into the game.

Garland had 18 points, and eight assists for the Cavs, and Caris LeVert added 19 points off the bench.

Cleveland was without Robin Lopez(illness) and Cedi Osman(back).

The Great, Not So Great, & Bottom Line of Cavs’ loss to Nets

The Cavs(22-13) finished their six-game homestand on Monday against the Nets(22-12) and trailed by as many as 19 points before rallying late, but they would fall to the Nets 125-117 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Nets have won nine straight, while the Cavs, who ended their homestand 4-2, have lost two straight.

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

Great:

Darius Garland had a game-high 46 points(14/20 FG), including five threes and eight assists; he had 18 points in the fourth; Garland cut Brooklyn’s 19-point fourth-quarter lead to four with just under a minute to go. However, just like what happened against Minnesota, where he scored 27 points in the fourth, it wasn’t enough.

Not So Great:

Defense: Cleveland allowed the Nets to shoot 57% from the floor, including 60% from deep. The Cavs are one the better defensive teams in the NBA, but they had no answers for the Nets. Specifically, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, who combined for 12 threes and had 32 points apiece.

The final 3:54 seconds of the first half: Cavs trailed for most of the game, and in the first half, they cut the lead to 44-43, but Brooklyn closed the half on a 21-6 run, and the Nets took a 16-point lead at halftime.

Donovan Mitchell struggled again with his shot as he finished 5-16 from the field and ended the night with 15 points. Brooklyn did a great job of keeping him under control.

In the last two games, Mitchell is 9-32 from the field.

Bottom Line:

After starting this homestand 4-0, the Cavs got humbled by the Raptors and Nets.

Cleveland needed more of an answer for Brooklyn’s firepower and could not limit Durant and Irving.

The Cavs are a very good team, but not surprisingly, they have more to do to be a championship team. Again, Cleveland’s very good, but something could be missing. They may need another piece.

What’s Next:

Cleveland goes on the road to battle the Pacers on Thursday night.

Best of the Rest:

The Nets had six players in double figures. T.J. Warren had 23 points and eight rebounds off the bench, and Ben Simmons added four points, nine rebounds, and eight assists.

Jarrett Allen had 10 points and 11 rebounds. Cleveland had five players in double figures.

Robin Lopez(illness) was out against Brooklyn.

Cavs continue to win big at home

The Cavs(22-11) continued their six-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Bucks(22-9), and for the first time in three games, Cleveland defeated Milwaukee 114-106.

Cleveland has now won five straight.

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

Great:

Donovan Mitchell was sensational again; he had 36 points, four rebounds, and six assists. He feasted at the line as he was 15/16 from the stripe. Mitchell has scored 20-plus points in nine straight games.

Darius Garland also brought it for the Cavs; he had 23 points. The Cavs backcourt combined for 59 points.

Jarrett Allen was efficient, proficient, and just got the job done. He had 19 points on 7/9 shooting and eight rebounds.

Defense: Cleveland did a solid job on the defensive end. They created 16 of Milwaukee’s 21 turnovers in the first half, and Cleveland had 22 points off those 21 turnovers. 

In addition, they held the Bucks to 40% shooting in the first half. Cavs led 60-42 at halftime.

Not So Great:

Fourth Quarter: The Cavs let the Bucks creep back in this one in the fourth. The Bucks outscored the Cavs 29-21 in the quarter. Cleveland shot only 33% from the floor, including 0/5 from deep. The Cavs led by as many as 25 points in the third and 16 in the fourth. Milwaukee cut the lead to five late, but Garland made a fadeaway and two free throws, and the Cavs held on.

Bottom Line:

This is a big win for the Cavs. Yes, Khris Middleton didn’t play for Milwaukee, and even without Middleton, the Bucks are still an outstanding basketball team, so again, a good win for the Cavs.

As we look at the standings in the East, we see the Cavs moving on up. With the win, the third-seeded Cavs are now one game behind the Bucks for the top spot in the East and 1/2 game behind the second-seeded Celtics.

Cleveland is taking advantage of this home cooking and is 16-2 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, which is the best home record in the NBA.

What’s Next:

Cleveland continues their six-game homestand on Friday night against the Raptors.

Best of the Rest:

Giannis Antetokounmpo had a season-high 45 points and 14 rebounds; he also added two blocks; Jrue Holiday had nine points, a season-high nine rebounds, and eight assists. 

Lamar Stevens miss his third game with knee soreness.

 

Mitchell, Cavs roll through the Jazz

Donovan Mitchell went against his old team, the Utah Jazz(17-16) on Monday night, and fortunately for the Cavs(21-11), he and his team brought it as the Cavs routed the Jazz 122-99 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cleveland led by 19 at halftime and led by as many as 25 points in this one. 

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

Great:

Donovan Mitchell, who spent five seasons with Utah before being traded to the Cavs in the offseason, scored 23 points on 8/12 shooting, including 4/5 from downtown. He had 23 points and only 23 minutes. For now, he got revenge.

Jarrett Allen was a dunking machine on Monday night. Six of his seven field goals were dunks, and he finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks.

Cedi Osman was 8/10 from the field and 5/6 from deep, as he finished with 22 points off the bench.

Shooting: Cleveland shot a sizzling 61% from the field, including 57% from deep. The Cavs finished with 15 threes. It was just one of those nights where everything Cleveland threw up went in the basket. Part of the reason they shot it so well is they had 29 fast break points. 

Not So Great:

Nothing here to see…

Bottom Line:

Cleveland had seven players in double figures and was in control from start to finish. The Cavs have won four straight, and they are taking advantage of this homestand. Again, this is a totally different team at home than on the road, and this is a dominating team when they play in their own building. 

Cleveland is 15-2 at home. Interestingly enough, the 2016 championship team started 15-2 at home.

The next three games will be a test as they finish the homestand against the Bucks, Raptors, and Nets, which should be interesting.

What’s Next:

Cleveland hosts the Bucks on Wednesday night.

Best of the Rest:

For the Cavs, Darius Garland had 17 points and eight assists; Caris LeVert had 13 points; Evan Mobley and Issac Okoro had 12 points apiece.

Lauri Markkanen led the Jazz with 24 points, and Jordan Clarkson had 23.