Injuries happen and are apart of the game, but for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the amount of injuries this team has suffered thus far this season is just ridiculous. After getting off to a 3-0 start, Cleveland(5-7) has now lost seven out of their last nine and three straight after getting routed by the Jazz at home 117-87 on Tuesday night.
The Cavaliers were without eight players, including Andre Drummond, who played in every game this season before missing Tuesday’s action with an Achilles contusion.
In addition, they were without their starting backcourt, and maybe their two best scorers in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, along with the league’s top rebounder in Drummond. So, without those guys, defeating the Jazz was going to be tough. Despite the loss, Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with his team’s efforts.
“The group that we had out there gave us what they had,” Bickerstaff said after the game. “They had to play a ton of minutes; they had to play out of position, and they fought and gave us what they had. They played the game the right way with one another, and we just struggled, obviously, offensively with so much missing.”
Cleveland is growing as a team, and not many expected them to make a lot of noise this season. However, the players on the floor now for this team make it difficult for the Cavs to win games, but despite the injuries, Bickerstaff is pleased with his young Cavaliers’ mindset.
“Obviously, we all deal with the fact of the disappointment that our teammates are hurt,” he said. “I think that’s first and foremost. But, there is an acceptance of the reality and the idea of trying to do what’s best no matter what. So, there is a bought-in group; they’re a positive group. Nobody is down in the dumps or hanging their head.
“They’re trying to go out, do the right thing and compete and play the game the right way, and they’re still bought into that. It is difficult when you see human beings getting injured. Obviously, human nature makes you feel that kind of way. Our guys are sticking together, lifting each other up, and we’re trying to get the job done.”
Cleveland has to find a way to work through this rough patch and hope they can get healthy sooner than later. If not, a once-promising season at the start could turn into a struggle due to injuries.
For most of this young NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers have played hard and played together, which has helped this team be an early-season surprise in the NBA despite all of the injuries.
On Monday at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, the Cavaliers, who returned home after a six-game road trip to battle the Grizzlies, did not follow their recipe for success, which is playing hard and playing together, and because of that, according to head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland(5-6) fell to Memphis(4-6) 101-91.
Memphis’ Dillon Brooks had a game-high 21 points, while Andre Drummond had his eleventh-straight double-double with 19 points and 14 rebounds for Cleveland.
“To be honest, I thought we lacked for large periods of the game, the two things that matter to us most,” Bickerstaff said. “Our competitiveness, our selflessness; tonight was the first sign that I saw, more than not, we were lacking in those areas.”
These two teams played last Thursday night in Memphis, where the Cavaliers defeated the Grizzlies 94-90.
Again, Cleveland was without seven players, including their leading-scorer Collin Sexton, who Bickerstaff did not know would be unavailable until right before tip-off. Sexton has missed three games due to a sprained ankle.
With the injuries, players are in spots that they are not used to playing, which makes executing very hard. Cleveland finished the game with 21 turnovers.
“You look at the entirety of the game,” Bickerstaff said. “You finish the game with 21 turnovers. It’s hard to survive that, especially playing low possession games. Again, asking guys who are out of position to get us in positions and get us organized in a pressure-filled fourth quarter isn’t the easiest thing.”
Cleveland gave up 64 points in the paint against Memphis, and Bickerstaff believes that comes back to the lack of selflessness on the defensive end. In the end, Bickerstaff believes the loss was on the team.
“That’s(64 points in the paints) apart of the selflessness on the defensive end of the floor,” he said. “There was a lot of me just guarding my man. We protect the paint with not just one guy. Our goal is to protect the paint with multiple bodies so teams don’t get in there. They scored 64 points in our paint. You add the free throws(16 points), and 80 of their points came from our paint and free throw line. Throw in, you turn the ball over 21 times; that’s dang-near impossible to overcome…
“This one was on us tonight.”
With the injuries, many things have to go right for the Cavaliers to win games, and based on the results, it was clear Cleveland did not play the right way against Memphis. Now, they regroup and see if they can turn it around against the Jazz on Wednesday night.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were down another man on Thursday night on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies, and this time, it was their leading scorer. Collin Sexton, who is averaging 25.1 PPG this season, was out against the Grizzlies due to a sprained ankle.
However, it’s next man up in Cleveland, and the men up stepped up in a big way for the Cavs. Andre Drummond got his usual double-double(ninth-straight) with 22 points and 10 rebounds, Larry Nance was 7-7 from the field and finished with 18 points, and Cedi Osman chipped in with 16 points as the Cavaliers(5-4) defeated the Grizzlies 94-90.
Cleveland was missing seven players, including Sexton, Kevin Love, and Darius Garland(second-leading scorer). With all that firepower out, Drummond knew the Cavaliers had to grind it out to get the victory.
“We just kept fighting,” Drummond said. “We knew this was going to be an ugly game. We knew it was going to be a real sloppy one due to some guys being in positions they haven’t been in before. We had fun, and we grinded the game out, and it was a great win for us.”
Late in the game, with the Cavaliers up 91-90, rookie Isaac Okoro made two of the game’s biggest plays. Okoro made a beautiful chase-down block on Tyus Jones, and then he made a beautiful backdoor cut for a dunk to put the Cavs up by three. Okoro finished with eight points and two blocks.
“If it wasn’t the middle of January, early January,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “We be talking about that block for a long, long time. It was phenomenal.”
Nance Jr. added about Okoro: “He’s a winner,” Nance Jr. said about Okoro. “The things he does on the court are things you can’t teach. I don’t know whoever taught him how to play basketball, where he learned how to play basketball, but he learned the right way.”
The Cavaliers have had some nice wins this season, including victories over the Hawks and 76ers, but when you consider all the injuries and had depleted this team was on Thursday night, Cleveland’s win against Memphis was their best win of the season. Now, it’s off to Milwaukee to finish off their six-game road trip against the Bucks.
The Cavaliers(4-4) got the start they wanted against the Magic on Wednesday night. The undermanned Cavaliers led by eight after the first quarter, but they were outscored 68-41 in the second and third quarters, and they would fall to the Magic 105-94.
With the loss, the Magic(5-2) swept the two-game home series against the Cavaliers. Orlando defeated the Cavaliers 103-83 on Monday.
On Wednesday, Terrence Ross led the Magic with 20 points off the bench, Dwayne Bacon poured in 19 points for Orlando. Cleveland’s Collin Sexton had a game-high 21 points.
Coming into this game against the Magic, Cleveland was depleted. They were missing their second-leading scorer in Darius Garland(shoulder), Kevin Love(calf), Dante Exum(calf), Dylan Windler(wrist), and Matthew Dellavedova(concussion). The Cavaliers top three ball-handlers were not available on Wednesday, so while they got off to a good start, the Cavaliers did not have the personnel to keep the lead.
“We’re having a hard time on the offensive end of the floor right now,” Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff said after the game. “Shots aren’t falling, we’re missing bunnies at the rim, we’re missing open looks. That makes it difficult. 105 points you give up. It gives you an opportunity to be in the game. It gives you an opportunity to win the game, but right now, we’re having a hard time on the offensive end. It’s on me to find easier ways for us to score and take the pressure off our guys.”
Sexton added: “We know what we’re down; we know what we’re facing right now, and that’s injuries. We know injuries are going to happen, but we have to continue to stay positive at the end of the day. We just have to stay positive, next man up.”
Despite the injuries, Bickerstaff is going to make sure his players continue to compete.
“If the last nine months, ten months, today, don’t set your priorities right, we show up, and we’ll go to work every single day,” he said. ‘There’s a lot of other people dealing with a lot worse stuff, so we’ll keep our guys positive; we’ll keep our guys upbeat, and we’ll keep coming out, and we’ll keep competing.”
Cleveland has two more games left on their six-game road trip, including Thursday’s game against the Grizzlies. With a limited roster, guys are going to have to step up, and the Cavaliers are going to have to find ways to win games.
Orlando’s Markelle Fultz left the game in the first quarter with a torn ACL in his left knee. The former number one overall pick in the 2017 draft recently signed a three-year, $50 million extension with the Magic. Fultz will miss the remainder of the season.
Throughout the 2020 NBA season, the Cleveland Cavaliers(4-3) have dealt with their share of adversity. Injuries have hit this team hard in this young season, including Kevin Love and Isaac Okoro, who have missed five games with injuries and are still out.
The injuries hit the team on Monday night in Orlando against the Magic(5-2). Darius Garland missed his first game of the season with a shoulder injury, and in the first quarter, Dante Exum went down with an apparent lower leg injury. Cleveland was depleted in this game, and it showed. The Cavaliers were routed by the Magic 103-83.
The Magic’s Aaron Gordon scored 24 points and 11 rebounds, and Nikola Vucevic chipped in with 23 points. Collin Sexton led the Cavaliers with 24 points.
“It’s tough,” Bickerstaff said. “I think our guys played hard. They tried to do what we asked them to do, but with so many guys out of position tonight. It’s hard to organize guys, especially when you’re losing primary ball-handlers.
Cleveland does not have the bodies right now, but according to Bickerstaff, they have to find a way to figure it out.
“It is what it is, and we just gotta figure it out; we are down bodies,” he said. “We talked about adversity a few games back. I think this is the epitome of it, so we just gotta figure it out, and we gotta get the most out of these opportunities that we have.”
Cleveland is off to a surprising start, but as the injuries continue to mount, Bickerstaff is right; they have to figure it out, which won’t be easy. The figuring out starts on Wednesday against the Magic.
-Collin Sexton has tied the Cavaliers record for consecutive 20-point games to start the season with 7 (LeBron James, 2004-05). Sexton, who has also put up 20+ points in 12 straight contests going back to 2019-20, is the only player in the NBA this season with at least 25.0 PPG, .500 FG%, and .500 3FG%.
-After Wednesday’s game against the Magic, they travel to Memphis on Thursday and finish up their six-game road trip against the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday.
“Things are easy when things are good. Things become a little more difficult when things are hard, and our response to that is important.”
-J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland Cavaliers head coach said after the team’s loss to the Pacers on 12/31/2020.
Things were not easy for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday night in Atlanta against the Hawks. In fact, it was a struggle for most of the night for Cleveland, but they defended, got contributions off the bench, and got big buckets from Collin Sexton down the stretch to get a big road victory against the Hawks 96-91.
De’Andre Hunter led Atlanta with 17 points, Clint Capela had 16 points and 16 rebounds, and Trae Young chipped in with 16 points.
Cleveland allowed the Hawks to score 56 points in the first half, including 35 points in the first quarter, and trailed by 12 at the half.
According to Cavaliers head coach J.B Bickerstaff, the team got together and committed to turning things around in the second half.
“When we came into the locker room at halftime from our coach’s meeting, we asked what they thought, and we got their opinion,” Bickerstaff said. “They said that they already discussed it. They knew what we needed to do. They knew we needed to move the ball; they knew we needed to play together; they knew we needed to scrap. My challenge to them was then take words to action. Those things are easy to say but much more difficult to do, and they went and took words to actions.”
The Cavaliers held the NBA’s top scoring team to 35 points in the second half. According to Bickerstaff, the play of JaVale McGee, who chipped in with 14 points and nine rebounds off the bench, set the tone for the team on the defensive end.
“I thought JaVale(McGee) was unbelievable defensively,” Bickerstaff said. “He came in, and he showed our guys what it looks like to be a winner. He made plays down the stretch, and what that did was elevate people to want to compete and scrap with him.”
Sexton, a Marietta, Georgia native, made a triumphant return home with a game-high 27 points, including 13 points in the fourth quarter, and with the game tied at 88 late in the contest, the third-year guard hit a big-time three to give Cleveland the lead for good.
“He’s a walking bucket,” Bickerstaff said about Sexton. “There’s certain people who have a knack for putting the ball in the basket—all sort of ways. The kid is not afraid of the biggest moments. When we needed a basket, he went and manufactured a basket. That’s a unique skill, and we outta praise that skill because it helps you on nights like this.”
Sexton added: “They(team) pretty much have a lot of confidence in me, so I love it.”
Give Cleveland a lot of credit. They beat an Atlanta team, who is off to a good start, including a win over the Brooklyn Nets. Cleveland fought, scrapped, and made the plays necessary to get the job done. That’s what you call growth, and that is what you want to see from a young basketball team.
-According to ESPN Stats & Info, Collin Sexton is the first Cavaliers player with 20 points in each of his team’s first 6 games of a season since LeBron James in 2004-05. Sexton is the 4th Cavaliers player to do this in franchise history, joining LeBron, Austin Carr and Bingo Smith.
–With his sixth straight double-double in as many games this season, Andre Drummond(12 points and 11 rebounds) has set a team franchise record for the most consecutive double-doubles to begin a season.
-Dante Exum did a great job on Trae Young and held him to 6-16 from the field. Exum started his second consecutive game for the injured Isaac Okoro.
For the Cavaliers, the first quarter has been an issue in the last two games. Against the Knicks on Tuesday night, Cleveland trailed by 14 after one and could not recover, and on Thursday afternoon against the Pacers, the Cavaliers trailed by 11 after one. It was an uphill battle the rest of the way, as Indiana(4-1) defeated Cleveland(3-2) 118-99 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Domantas Sabonis led the way for Indiana with a team-high 25 points and 11 rebounds.
This was Cleveland’s first game of a six-game road trip, which continues on Saturday in Atlanta against the Hawks. In their three wins, Cleveland had the lead or was tied after the first quarter. However, in their two losses, they have trailed by double digits after the opening stanza. Cleveland has been outscored by 25 points in the past two games in the first quarter.
“In these last two games, we’ve allowed the first quarters to impact us throughout the game,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said after the game. “Again, you go back and look at it. We had open shots; we had shots that we didn’t take, and we had bunnies at the rim that we didn’t finish. That carried over into other things.”
Collin Sexton, who had a game-high 28 points against Indiana, felt the team was not playing together in that first quarter.
“First quarter, I felt like the offense got stagnant. We wasn’t going by our principles, and that’s sharing the ball and feeding the post… We wasn’t playing together. That’s first and foremost. We wasn’t playing together. You can tell. Everybody was like, ‘swing, swing.’. Passing up open shots. We need guys to shoot those open shots every time.”
Darius Garland, who poured in 22 points, including 5-7 from three-point range, believes the team has to come out with more energy.
“We just have to start the game with more energy, set the tone,” he said. “We were on our heels a lot at the end of the first half of the game… We just got to start the game better. That’s all.”
After the game, Bickerstaff kept the team in the locker room a little longer than usual, and he explained why.
“Things are easy when things are good. Things become a little more difficult when things are hard, and our response to that is important,” he said. “We just wanted to have a discussion about that, about the grit we need to play with all the time, about the confidence we need to play with all the time, and believing in what we are doing and believing in ourselves through the good times and bad times.”
Cleveland has a young basketball team, and unfortunately, what comes with that is inconsistency. The Cavaliers have to get back to what made them successful, sharing the ball, creating turnovers, and making open shots. We’ll see if that back to that against the Hawks on Saturday.
Andre Drummond recorded his fifth straight double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.