Cavs’ Altman on team: ‘They captivated the city and put the league on notice’

On Tuesday, Cleveland Cavaliers President of Basketball Operations Koby Altman addressed the media at Cleveland Clinic Courts. The Cavs’ season ended at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Friday night as they fell to the Hawks in the Play-In Tournament.

“I’m still a little heartsick, to be honest with you,” Altman said about not making the playoffs. “It’s hard to process the season ending the way it did.”

J.B. Bickerstaff helped Cleveland improve by 22 wins from a year ago and finished the season 44-38, but despite the success, they fell short of the playoffs.

However, according to Atman, the Cavs have caught the attention of teams around the league.

“They captivated the city and put the league on notice, forced the league to put us on a national TV game because they had to, and more of that will come.”

Altman felt this season was a success, but Cleveland does have some questions, and one of the biggest questions is what will happen with Collin Sexton, who missed 71 games with a torn meniscus and can become a restricted free agent at season’s end if the Cavs extend a qualifying offer of $7.2 million.

The 23-year-old Sexton will probably be back in Cleveland next season based on what Altman said today.

“He, in a lot of ways, was the start of not only the rebuild, but the culture that we have in place now,” Altman said. “He’s enormously important to us. He’s been enormously important to us. To lose him, you can see throughout the year why we missed him, how we missed him, so we owe Collin a great deal of gratitude for the work he’s put in and continues to put in, (he) an important part of this team.”

Caris LeVert came over from the Pacers in a trade back in February. Altman believes both LeVert and Sexton, who have a similar skillset and play the same position, can thrive together in Cleveland.

“Yes, there’s a place for that level of talent, especially with the character that they bring and the fact that both really love it here,” Altman said.

It’s one thing to be a surprise team, but it’s another thing to win when the expectations are high, so the challenge for Altman and the players is to be even better next season.

“We’re not going to surprise teams next year,” Altman said. “I think we were two games out of being in sixth place. So like, it’s that close. We don’t want to lose grasp of what got us here, which is the hard work in the summer. We haven’t accomplished anything yet, so how do we keep that hunger, that humbleness, and attack this offseason?”

From top to bottom, the Eastern Conference will be tough next season, and Cleveland could be better next season and still be fighting to make the playoffs. They have a young, talented core.Obviously, they have three guys they can build around in All-Stars, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley.

In addition, they will have a lottery pick, so the future is very bright. However, sometimes that next step is the hardest step, and the Cavs are hoping to take that next step next season.

Cavs’ season was a huge success, but a massive disappointment at the same time

After falling to the Nets Tuesday night in Brooklyn in the Play-In Tournament, the Cavs had one more chance to get into the playoffs when they hosted the Atlanta Hawks Friday night.

It’s win or go home!

The Cavs got All-Star center Jarrett Allen back after he missed 19 games(including Play-In Tournament) with a fractured finger. Cleveland had their largest lead of 14 points in the first half and led by 10 at the half. However, Trae Young happened! The All-Star had 32 of his 38 points in the second half as the Hawks defeated the Cavs 107-101 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Cavs season ends, while the Hawks capture the eighth seed and move on to face the Heat in first round of the playoffs, which begins Sunday in Miami. 

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Lauri Markkanen played like he did not want to go home. He had 17 of his team-high 26 points in the first half to along with eight rebounds. Markkanen shot 10/17 from the field, including 6/12 from deep. Unfortunately, he did have a bad pass that was stolen by Kevin Huerter late in the fourth, which sealed the deal for the Hawks, but all and all, Markkanen did his job Friday night.

-Evan Mobley will be a special player, and he played well against the Hawks. The rookie had 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists, and two blocks. Just like Tuesday night in Brooklyn, the moment was not too big for Mobley.

-Darius Garland struggled with his shot(9/27 FG), but he battled through it and finished with 21 points, nine assists, and three steals; however,  he did turn the ball over five times.

First Half:  The Cavs fed off their crowd in the first half. Cleveland shot 52% from the floor in the first quarter, including 67%(6/9) from deep. The Cavs led 36-25 after one. Cleveland made 10 threes in the first half and got great looks. In addition, they held the Hawks to 17%(3/17) from three-point range, and Cleveland led 61-51 at the break. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Third Quarter: Great players do great things, and Young is a great player. Young woke up after being held to six points in the first half. He either scored or assisted on 27 of the Hawks’ 33 points in the quarter. He finished with 16 points in the third. Atlanta shot 61% from the floor(4/8 3-PT FG). The Hawks outscored the Cavs 33-23 in the quarter, took their first lead late in the third, and erased a 10-point halftime deficit. The game was knotted at 84, heading into the fourth.

Second Half Offense: The offense stagnated in the second half, and some credit has to go to Atlanta’s defense, which stiffened. Cleveland did not get the same looks they had in the first half. You often saw some 911 shots with the shot clock running down from the Cavs, and they had two shot-clock violations early in the fourth. After scoring 61 points in the first, Cleveland was held to 40 points in the second half. In the fourth, they shot only 33% from the field, including 1/8 from downtown. After making 10 threes in the first half, the Cavs made only three more the rest of the way.

Bench: The Hawks’ bench outscored Cleveland’s bench 25-9. Kevin Love and Rajon Rondo were not much of a factor in this contest. Maybe Love could have gotten more minutes, but Atlanta was trying to go after him on the defensive end. The Cavs’ starters were a combined +10, while the bench was a combined -40.

Bottom Line:

It’s kind of stunning how the season ended for Cleveland. At one point, especially after the addition of Caris LeVert, many thought this team could make a deep playoff run. Now, just like that, it’s over!

The season was a success. Players like Garland and Jarrett Allen grew and became All-Stars, and Evan Mobley looks like a star. LeVert will have a whole training camp to get acclimated with the team, and maybe they’ll bring back soon-to-be restricted free agent Collin Sexton or move him to get another piece. In addition, they will have a lottery pick, so that’s another opportunity to improve this roster. Youth is on their side as Garland, Allen, Mobley, and Markkanen are all under 25.

Even in saying the season was a success, it feels like a disappointment at the same time. They were in striking distance of the top spot in the East for most of the season, but the day that destroyed the season was March 6. Cleveland defeated Toronto in that game and was 37-27 and was the sixth seed in the East with a three-game lead over the seventh-seeded Raptors. However, Allen fractured his finger and missed the final 18 games of the regular season. During that stretch, the Cavs went 7-11. Also, during that stretch, Mobley went down with an ankle injury and missed five games. They overcame the injuries of Sexton and Ricky Rubio, but they did not overcome Allen’s injury.

Again, a fantastic season for the Cavs, and the future seems bright. However, from top to bottom, the East will be challenging, and here’s also the thing: Cleveland is not sneaking up on anyone, so expectations have changed, which means the pressure is on this young group to get better. We’ll see how they’ll respond next season.

What’s Next:

The offseason! It was a fun season!

Best of the Rest:

-LeVert had 16 points for the Cavs as all five starters scored in double figures. Allen, who was basically playing with one hand, had 11 points, three rebounds, two assists, and a block.

-Bogdan Bogdanovic had 19 points for the Hawks off the bench. 

-During the second quarter, Clint Capela suffered a right knee hyperextension after fouling Mobley. According to the team. he will undergo an MRI in Miami, and his status will be updated as appropriate.

Watch below as Garland and Mobley react to the loss to Atlanta:

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’ Jarrett Allen out indefinitely with fractured finger

Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen is out indefinitely after fracturing his left middle finger, the team announced Monday.

No timetable has been set for his return to basketball activities, and his status will be updated as appropriate, according to the team.

Allen left Sunday’s win over the Raptors in the first quarter with a left quad contusion and did not return to action.

According to the team, he was later diagnosed with a left middle finger injury.  

This season, the first time All-Star is averaging 16.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per game.

Cleveland(37-27) is currently without Caris LeVert(foot) and Rajon Rondo(toe) and will have to find ways to win without Allen.

The Cavs return to actions Tuesday night in Indiana against the Pacers.

Cavs get back on track in win over Raptors

The Cleveland Cavaliers returned to Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Sunday night to play a big game against the Toronto Raptors.

Coming into the game, the sixth-seeded Cavs were two games up on the seventh-seeded Raptors, so if the Cavs wanted to avoid the Play-In Tournament, this game was a must.

Cleveland led by as many as 18 points in the fourth quarter, and the Cavs would defeat the Raptors 104-96.

The Cavs(37-27) snap their three-game losing streak with the win, while the Raptors(34-30) have lost three straight.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Evan Mobley showed out for a national TV audience Sunday night. Mobley had 20 points, a career-high-tying 17 rebounds, four assists, and three blocks. Jarrett Allen missed most of the game, and Mobley stepped up. This was Mobley’s 16th double-double of the season(tied for the most among rookies). Mobley and Toronto’s Scotty Barnes(19 points, 12 rebounds, and six assists) are both in the running for Rookie of the Year, and both played well Sunday night.

-Lauri Markkanen had a team-high 22 points, a season-high 12 rebounds, and a block against the Raptors. This was Markkanen’s second double-double of the season. Again, without Allen, Cleveland needed their bigs to stand up, and like Mobley, Markkanen stood up. 

-Darius Garland chipped in with his second straight double-double as he had 17 points and 10 assists. He also added three rebounds and two steals. 

-Second Quarter: Cleveland led 30-29 after one quarter, and they picked things up in the second quarter, mainly on the defensive end. They held the Raptors to 23%(5/22) shooting from the floor, including 0/5 from deep. Cleveland outscored Toronto 29-17 in the quarter and took a 59-46 lead at the break.

Defense: The Cavs brought that defensive intensity and energy Sunday night. Toronto had two quarters where they scored less than 20 points; they shot 39% from the field, including 6/25 from three-point range. In addition, the Cavs held a team below 100 points for the first time since February 26.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

-Jarrett Allen left the game in the first quarter with a left quad contusion. After the win, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported that Allen also suffered a fractured finger and is expected to be sidelined indefinitely. 

The All-Star was having a tremendous season, so Cleveland will miss what he brings to the table.

-Cleveland had 19 turnovers, which led to 20 points for Toronto. Garland had seven of the 19 turnovers.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland needed to win this game badly, and they got it done. They got back to who they were earlier in the season, and that’s playing well on defense, but unfortunately, they will have more adversity to overcome with Allen’s injury.

This season, Cleveland lost Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio for the season. Markkanen missed time with COVID and an ankle injury, Garland is battling a back injury, and Caris LeVert(foot) and Rajon Rondo(toe) are currently out, but to the Cavs’ credit, they still keep pushing.

Cleveland is now three games up on the Raptors and one game behind the fifth-seeded Celtics(39-27).

Again, as stated previously, the Cavs just need to worry about being one of the top six teams in the East.

What’s Next:

Cleveland begins a three-game road trip Tuesday night in Indiana against the Pacers.

Best of the Rest:

The Cavs had five players in double figures. Cedi Osman added 17 points, and Kevin Love poured in 15 points off the bench.

-Toronto’s Pascal Siakam had a game-high 24 points; Chris Boucher scored 21 points, and Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. had 19 points apiece.

According to Cavs Notes, since 1989-90 season, seven rookies had 20-plus points, 17-plus rebounds, and 3-plus blocks in a single game, including Mobley:

Dikembe Mutombo (11/2/91 and 11/26/91)

Tim Duncan (4/10/98 and 1/19/98)

Elton Brand (11/19/99)

Shaquille O’Neal (4/20/93)

David Robinson (2/3/90)

Chris Webber (3/1/94)

Mobley(Sunday night).

-Toronto was without Fred VanVleet(knee), who missed his fifth straight game, and Malachi Flynn(hamstring).

Watch below as Mobley reacts to big win over Raptors:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to 76ers: ‘We felt and looked like ourselves for the first time in a while’

The Cleveland Cavaliers came to Philly to battle the 76ers Friday night, hoping to rebound from their bad loss to the Hornets Wednesday.

Cleveland played well and had their largest lead of 21 points in the first quarter, but Philly’s Tyrese Maxey(33 points), Joel Embiid(22 points and nine rebounds), and James Harden(25 points and 11 assists) combined for 80 points and the 76ers defeated Cleveland 125-119 at Wells Fargo Center.

The Cavs(36-27) have lost three straight and six of their last seven, while the 76ers(39-23) have won five straight.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the 76ers:

The Great for the Cavs:

-All-Star Darius Garland again played like an All-Star as he had 26 points(10/22, 4/8 3 PT FG), a career-high 19 assists, two steals, and a block. The 19 dimes are tied for the most by a player in a game this season. Garland sliced and diced Philly’s defense all night long.

-Isaac Okoro scored 13 of his 22 points in the first quarter. Okoro scored his points on an array of drives to the basket, and the Cavs’ offense looked better with Okoro attacking.

First Half: Cleveland came out in the first quarter on fire after getting blown out by the Hornets Wednesday night. They hit their first nine shots. Cleveland finished the first quarter shooting 74% from the floor, including 80%(4/5 FG) from deep. Cleveland scored 43 points in the first and led 43-30 after one.

The Cavs would shoot 62% from the field in the first half. However, because Philly has a prolific offense, they were able to stay in the game, and Cleveland led 71-63 at the half.

The 71 points are the Cavs’ highest total on the road in any half this season.

-Jarrett Allen was solid for the Cavs. He shot well(7/8 FG), and he had 20 points, seven rebounds, and a block. He went head-to-head with Joel Embiid(22 points and nine rebounds) and held his own.

-Cedi Osman scored 10 of his 20 in the second quarter off the Cavs’ bench. This is Osman’s second 20-plus point performance in the last three games.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Cleveland shot 54% from the floor, scored 119 points, and did a lot right.

We could point to defense as they allowed Philly to shoot 55% from the field and score 125 points, but not much bad here!

Bottom Line:

Cleveland went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference in a playoff atmosphere and held their own. The last time they went to Philly, the Cavs got blitzed and fell apart, but this time they battled.

There is no such thing as a good loss at this level, but this was a good loss. Philly is built to win now, while the Cavs have to get to that level. Cleveland could get to that level, but the 76ers are the better team at this point.

No one expected the Cavs to be this good this season, but now, the goal for Cleveland is to avoid the Play-in Tournament.

To the standings, the Cavs dropped to the sixth seed and are one game behind the fifth-seeded Celtics(38-27) and two games ahead of the seventh-seeded Raptors(34-29).

“I mean, we were better; we felt and looked like ourselves for the first time in a while,” Bickerstaff said. “We just happened to run into a really good basketball team, but there are no silver linings; our guys played Cavalier basketball tonight and gave ourselves a chance to win.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland returns home Sunday to battle the Toronto Raptors.

Best of the Rest:

 -On Friday, Bickerstaff was been fined $20,000 for directing inappropriate language toward game officials and for failing to leave the court in a timely manner following his ejection.

He received two technical fouls and was ejected in the third quarter of the Cavaliers’ loss to the Hornets

-Philly had six players in double figures; Cleveland had five players in double figures. 

-The 76ers took their first lead of the game on George Niang(17 points) floater with 1:55 left in the third.

-The trio of Embiid/Harden/Maxey have combined for 80 points or more in three of the last four games.

Watch below as Garland talks loss to 76ers:

Cavs’ Garland: ‘We’re playing soft’

The Cleveland Cavaliers got some good news Wednesday night when All-Star Darius Garland(back) made his return after missing three games.

However, that did not matter. 

Charlotte built a 24-point lead in the third. Cleveland cut the lead to 12 in the fourth, but the Hornets went on a 13-0 run to push the lead to 25, which was their largest lead of the game, and Charlotte would defeat the Cavs 119=98 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Cavs are frustrated, and the frustration got to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who was ejected after receiving two technicals in the third. After the game, Bickerstaff said he apologized to the team for losing his composure.

The Cavs(36-26) have lost two straight; Charlotte(31-33) snapped their two-game losing streak.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland was back, and he played like an All-Star. Garland had a game-high 33 points(5-10 3 PT FG) to go along with four assists. It was good to see him back on the court and making plays.

-Cleveland’s other All-Star, Jarrett Allen, had a double-double with 18 points(7/9 FG) and 11 rebounds. This was Allen’s second double-double in three games. He also had two steals and a block. 

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Well, where can we begin? 

Defense: It was a battle between the highest-scoring team(Hornets) in basketball against the team(Cavs), which allows the least amount of points in the NBA, and the Hornets’ offense overwhelmed the Cavs’ defense.

Cleveland allowed 96 points after three quarters.

The Hornets shot 50% from the floor and made 17 threes. 

The Cavs have lost five of six games, and in those five losses, Cleveland allowed over 100 points. 

First Quarter:  Charlotte jumped on the Cavs early, and they were hot from the start. The Hornets shot 60% from the floor, including 67% from deep. Kelly Oubre Jr. was 4/4 from three-point range in the quarter. Charlotte led 38-31 after one and led by 15 points at halftime.

Rebounding: Cleveland got outrebounded by the Hornets 45-37. In addition, Charlotte had 11 second-chance points, while the Cavs had five, so Charlotte cleaned up on the glass when they missed, which wasn’t a lot.

Bottom Line:

The Cavs could be in trouble. They are not defending like they were earlier in the season. Cleveland(106.5 ppg) is 26th in points per game, and in their last five losses, Cleveland is allowing 115.8 points per contest. Plus, they are missing the offense they would get from Caris LeVert.

It’s clear if this team does not get their defensive identity back soon, they could keep on losing, especially with the schedule they have coming up. Four of Cleveland’s next five games are against @76ers, Raptors, @Bulls, and @Heat, so the defense has to get better real quick.

As for the Eastern Conference standings, Cleveland(36-26) and the Celtics(37-27) are in a virtual tie for the fifth seed, and the seventh-seeded Raptors are 1.5 games behind both teams. 

“We’re playing soft. We’re giving up 38 points in a quarter that happened twice this week; that’s unacceptable,” Garland said.

What’s Next:

Cleveland travels to Philadelphia to battle the 76ers Friday night.

Best of the Rest:

Terry Rozier led the Hornets with 29 points; Kelly Oubre Jr. had 19 points. Charlotte had six players in double figures.

Watch below as Garland talks loss to the Hornets:

Cavs’ Osman on loss to Minnesota: ‘We’re upset we lost because we fought really hard’

The Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping to build off Saturday’s win over the Wizards as they hosted the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night.

Of course, Cleveland was still without Darius Garland(back), Caris LeVert(foot), and Rajon Rondo(toe).

After trailing by 23 points in the third, the Cavs(36-25) tied the score at 122 late in the fourth, but Karl-Anthony Towns hit a three with 12.4 seconds left to give Minnesota(33-29) a 127-122 victory at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

With the loss, Cleveland’s eight-game home winning streak was snapped. 

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Kevin Love was 2/15 from the floor, including 1/9 from deep in the last two games. He broke out of his little shooting slump Monday night, and he helped lead the comeback. Love scored 18 of his game-high 26 points in the second half, including five threes. He also had five rebounds and four assists. 

-Cedi Osman was also big-time off the Cavs’ bench. He scored eight of his 21 points in the fourth and made the game-tying three late in the fourth. Unfortunately, he missed a three with a chance to tie with 04.6 seconds left.

Osman also added five assists and was a huge reason the Cavs had a chance at the end.

-Brandon Goodwin did his job Monday night. He recorded the first double-double of his career with 17 points and a career-high 12 assists. Goodwin also had just one turnover, and he added four rebounds. 

-Jarrett Allen had another efficient night as he had 21 points(9/10 FG) and eight rebounds. 

-Rookie Evan Mobley registered his second straight double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mobley has three double-doubles in the last four games, and he also had four assists and two blocks Monday night.

First Quarter: Cleveland got off to a great start against the Timberwolves. They shot 52% from the floor and got a big performance from Jarrett Allen, who scored 10 points on 4/5 shooting. In addition, they forced four turnovers, which led to nine points. Ultimately, the Cavs led 37-26 after one quarter.

Fourth Quarter: The Cavs cut Minnesota’s 23-point lead to 13 at the end of the third and continued to battle in the fourth. Cleveland went on a 13-4 run to cut the lead to 105-101, and they went on to tie the game at 122 late in the quarter.

In the final quarter, the Cavs shot 50% from the floor and almost pulled off the comeback.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Second Quarter: The Cavs struggled on the defensive end in the second quarter. Cleveland allowed Minnesota to shoot 68% from the field. The Cavs got a little sloppy with the ball as they turned it over seven times in the quarter, which led to 14 points for the Timberwolves. Minnesota would score 38 points in the quarter and take a 64-61 lead at halftime.

Third Quarter:  After getting outscored by 14 points in the second quarter, Cleveland did not do much better in the third quarter. Minnesota went on a 29-9 run to start the third and took their largest lead of 23 points. The Timberwolves shot 60% from the floor, including 58%(7/12) from three-point range. Minnesota would outscore Cleveland 37-27 in the quarter and took a 101-88 lead into the fourth.

-Turnovers: Cleveland had a season-high-tying 22 turnovers Monday night, which led to 35 points for Minnesota. When you’re down two point guards, this is understandable. However, you have to do a better job protecting the ball.

Defense: Cleveland, who allows a league-best 102.7 ppg, allowed 101 points after three quarters. In addition, Cleveland allowed Minnesota to shoot 55% from the floor, including 18 threes. The Timberwolves scored 50 points in the paint. 

Bottom Line:

The Cavs got close, but they just could not get over the hump against Minnesota. We all know how the Cavs must defend to win without Garland and LeVert, and that did not happen Monday night. To their credit, Cleveland never gave up in this one, but hey, no moral victories for this team; they need wins.

Cleveland(fifth-seed) is now 4.5 games behind the Heat for the top spot in the East, but they may have to worry about what’s behind them. The sixth-seeded Celtics(36-27) are one game behind Cleveland, and the Raptors(33-27), who are the seventh seed, are now 2.5 games behind the Cavs, so Cleveland, despite the injuries, has to win.

“We’re upset we lost because we fought really hard,” Osman said. “I apologize for that last shot. I have to be better in those positions.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs conclude their three-game homestand Wednesday night against the Hornets.

Best of the Rest:

Minnesota had six players in double figures led by D’Angelo Russell’s 25 points, and Towns, Anthony Edwards, and Jaden McDaniels had 17 points apiece.

Cleveland also had six players in double figures.

Watch below as Love reacts to loss to Minnesota:

 

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’ Allen: ‘I’m part of the top 24 players in the NBA at this All-Star Weekend’

After a long wait, Cavs center Jarrett Allen finally got the call for the 2022 All-Star Game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland. Allen, who made the game for the first time in his career as a reserve, along with his teammate Darius Garland, is having a career year as he ranks among NBA leaders in FG% (2nd, .665), double-doubles (T-6th, 30), and RPG (10th, 11.1).

In addition, he’s recorded ten games this season of 15-plus points and 15-plus rebounds, and when he records a double-double, Cleveland is 25-5.

All told, Allen, 23, is averaging career-highs in points (16.2), rebounds (11.0), and assists (1.8) per game. 

“It’s still a lot to take in,” Allen said of making the All-Star Game. “I don’t think I’ve fully grasped the moment that I’m in. I’m part of the top 24 players in the NBA at this All-Star Weekend, so I’m just excited; I’m ready to take it all in and just enjoy every moment.”

The five-year veteran has turned himself into one of the better centers in basketball and discussed what it’s like to guard the better bigs in the game like Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid.

On Antetokounmpo:

“I always find it a fun matchup guarding Giannis. He has so many things to his game. He’s starting to add his jump shot to the game. Obviously, he’s a force going to the paint, so it’s an awesome matchup.”

On Jokic:

“Truly difficult to cover. If you let your guard down even for a split second, he’s going to make a pass to the corner. If you let your guard down for a split second, he’s going to somehow do three spin moves on you and have an open lay-up at the rim. He just has so many things to his package that you have to guard.”

On Embiid:

“I mean, obviously, Embiid had the triple-double on me, but Embiid is a brute. Embiid is going to back down; he’s going to punish you, and he has all the skill, but at the same time, Jokic might have a 15-15-15 night. Both matchups are tough.”

At this point, Cleveland(35-23) is the fourth seed in the East and is 2.5 games behind the Bulls and the Heat for the top spot in the conference. Many teams are bunched up in the East, and only five games separate the seventh-seeded Raptors from the Bulls and the Heat.

“I mean, you look at the East, it’s like you win three games, and now you’re all of a sudden a seven seed,” Allen said. “It’s a crazy race, and it’s those big moves that could change a lot.”

So much could change from this point until the end of the season. With 24 games left, Cleveland is in a prime position to do big things in the East. We’ll see how that works out the rest of the way, but for now, Allen should enjoy All-Star Weekend in Cleveland.