Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Our guys will get better, and we will improve’

The Cleveland Cavaliers had their preseason debut on Tuesday night in Chicago against the Bulls. Fortunately for Cleveland, this game does not count. Chicago led by as many as 48 points and would defeat Cleveland 131-95.

The Cavaliers had 15 turnovers in the first half and 20 in total. The new-look Bulls, who added Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan in the offseason, scored 69 points in the first half and led by 23 points at halftime.

Zach LaVine led the Bulls with 25 points. Collin Sexton’s 14 points led Cleveland, and Lauri Markkanen added 13 points off the bench in his return to Chicago.

Bickerstaff attributed a lot of the Cavaliers’ issues to youth. The oldest player in Cleveland’s starting lineup on Tuesday was 23(Jarrett Allen).

“Not making excuses, but we got a lot of young basketball players that are still trying to figure it out,” Bickerstaff said. “Our guys will get better, and we will improve.”

The Cavs struggled in all facets of the game on Tuesday night, but there were some positives. Backup point guard Ricky Rubio, who started the second half, played well and is an upgrade over last season’s backups at the point guard spot. Rubio had 10 points and six assists in 20 minutes of action. Also, rookie Evan Mobley was solid in his debut. He added 10 points and eight rebounds. 

You never like to overreact off of any preseason game, especially the first one, but the Bulls look like they have put together a team that can contend in the East while the Cavs looked like a team that is headed to the lottery again. However, there’s a lot of basketball to be played.

We’ll see how the Cavs bounce back against the Hawks in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

Watch below as Mobley and Sexton react to Cleveland’s loss to Chicago on Tuesday night:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff was happy with team’s effort in loss to Pacers

The Cleveland Cavaliers(21-48) lost again on Monday night as they fell to the Pacers(32-36) 111-102 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

Cleveland has now lost a season-high 11 straight and has dropped 14 of their last 15 games.

Domantas Sabonis had 21 points and 20 rebounds for Indiana, and Kelani Martin scored a career-high 25 points off the bench.

The Cavaliers’ Isaac Okoro had 20 points and a career-high 10 rebounds and Dean Wade had 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

Cleveland had only nine players available on Monday night, and was without Kevin Love, Darius Garland, Larry Nance Jr., and six others, but they fought in this game. The Cavaliers led 60-53 at halftime. However, Indiana would take a two-point lead into the fourth quarter.

Following an Okoro running layup that tied the game at 91 midway through the fourth quarter, Indiana went on a 14-4 run to take complete control of the game. 

While the Cavs lost their 11th straight, head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was pleased with the team’s fight against the Pacers.

“They laid it on the line tonight,” Bickerstaff said. “They gave us everything they had tonight. We just came up a little short.”

After the game, some of the talk was about assistant Lindsay Gottlieb, who will be leaving the team to become the head coach for the USC women’s basketball team. 

Collin Sexton, who had 25 points, eight assists, and five rebounds on Monday night, had a great relationship with Gottlieb and really enjoyed the advice she gave him.

“She always going to give me the real advice and the true advice that I need,” Sexton said about Gottlieb. “At the end of the day, she’s not going to sugarcoat anything. if she feels like I’m not playing up to my potential, she’ll let me know.”

Cleveland will complete their three-game homestand on Wednesday night when they host the Celtics. The Cavaliers will finish their season on the road when they battle the Wizards on Friday and Brooklyn on Sunday.

Cavs’ Lindsay Gottlieb headed to USC

Cavs assistant Lindsay Gottlieb is going back to the college game. Gottlieb will be the new head coach for the USC women’s basketball team, it was announced on Monday.

Gottlieb, 43, will finish out the season for Cleveland, which ends on Sunday night in Brooklyn against the Nets.

According to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, Gottlieb got a six-year deal at USC.

Gottlieb, who was hired as an assistant by then Cavs head coach John Beilein in 2019, was the first NCAA women’s head coach to be hired by an NBA team. Before coming to Cleveland, Gottlieb was the head women’s basketball coach at Cal. After Beilein’s departure, Gottlieb continued as an assistant under J.B Bickerstaff.

On Monday, both Gottlieb and Cavaliers GM Koby Altman released statements:

Gottlieb:

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to serve as an assistant coach with the Cavaliers for the last two years. This has truly been a basketball dream come true for me to work not only in the NBA, but hand-in-hand with this incredible coaching staff that has taught me so much. I’d especially like to thank Koby Altman and J.B. Bickerstaff for believing in me and providing an inclusive environment to enhance my coaching acumen. This is a very special group of players who have a tremendous amount of talent and work ethic, and it was an honor to work and develop relationships with them as well. The vision of this organization is what attracted me to Cleveland, and I look forward to seeing the continued development of this team and all that these guys can become in the future.” 

“This was a very difficult decision and even tougher to say goodbye, but the opportunity at USC was something I could not let pass. What I see is a program steeped in tradition with a history of excellence and one of the nation’s strongest brands. I look forward to becoming part of that legacy and helping bring the Women of Troy back to national prominence.”

Altman:

“Lindsay Gottlieb has been a tremendous asset to this organization since joining us two seasons ago, and I couldn’t be more excited for this incredible opportunity ahead of her at the University of Southern California. Lindsay brought an extensive coaching and culture-building background to Cleveland that fit seamlessly with the existing direction in place for this team. What really stands out about her time with the Cavaliers was how well she was able to communicate with our players, while demonstrating different perspectives on a daily basis that helped change the outlook of the game for many of our guys. We were fortunate that she was willing to leave her position at Cal to join us, and we are not surprised that she has remained a sought after Head Coach at the highest level of women’s college basketball. Lindsay will always be part of the Cavaliers family and we wish her, along with her husband Patrick and son Jordan, the very best as they embark on this new journey back in California and at USC.”

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Garland: ‘He’s the spirit of what we do’

Injuries have been a big issue for the Cleveland Cavaliers this season. At times, key players, including Kevin Love and Larry Nance jr. have missed significant time due to injuries, and on Friday night against the Wizards, Cleveland was missing six players, but they did get their leading scorer in Collin Sexton back, who missed the last three games with a concussion. 

These two teams met last Sunday in Washington, and the Wizards defeated the Cavs 119-110.

On Friday night, Cleveland(21-42) competed in the first half against Washington(29-34) and trailed 58-52 at the break, but things went south when their point guard Darius Garland left the game early in the third quarter and did not return after rolling his ankle.  Following Garland’s exit, Cleveland was outscored 33-16 in the quarter, and a six-point lead turned into a 23-point lead at the end of three for Washington, and ultimately, the Wizards would defeat the Cavaliers 122-93 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Wizards have won two straight and 10 of their last 11 games, while the Cavs have dropped five consecutive games.

Bradley Beal led Washington with 19 points, and Russell Westbrook had his NBA record-setting 14th triple-double in the month of April with 15 points, 12 rebounds, and 11 assists. Sexton had a game-high 22 points for Cleveland.

Garland is Cleveland’s floor general, and without him, Cleveland’s offense sputtered, which Cavs head coach J.B Bickerstaff discussed after the game.

“Darius is our lead guard,” he said. And it’s disappointing, obviously, for him having the injury, but he’s our leader; he’s the spirit of what we do, and he was playing at an extremely high level. It’s sad; it’s disappointing that the injury happened at this point, or at any point because his confidence was growing. He’s playing so well. The best month of his career by far… Obviously, him not being there hurt us a lot.”

Also, Love, who had 10 rebounds on Friday night, did not take a shot and ended the game with zero points in 22 minutes. According to Bickerstaff, Cleveland has to keep Love involved on the offensive end of the floor.

“I think he’s(Love) an important piece of what we do on that end of the floor,” Bickerstaff said. “So, we gotta find ways to get him involved, find ways to get him shots.”

At this point, the Cavaliers are going through the motions. They are not a healthy team, and they are not playing good basketball right now. However, this season was not about winning, it was about the development of young talent, and Cleveland must continue to do that in the final nine games of the season. 

The Cavaliers continue their five-game homestand on Saturday night against the Miami Heat.

 

Despite the loss, Cavs’ Bickerstaff happy with team’s effort against Magic

For three quarters, the Cleveland Cavaliers(21-41) were getting blown out by the Orlando Magic(19-43) on Wednesday night. Cleveland trailed 82-61 entering the fourth quarter.

Then, they finally woke.

The Cavaliers scored 43 points in the fourth quarter, and at one point, the lead swelled to 23 points in the final quarter, but Cleveland implemented a full-court press, which sped up the Magic, forced turnovers, and got them back into the game. Cleveland went on a 41-18 run to tie the score at 104 after a Kevin Love three with just over a minute left in the game. However, Orlando’s Cole Anthony would score four of the team’s final five points as the Magic would snap their six-game losing streak and defeat Cleveland 109-104 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Cavs’ Darius Garland had 25 points, 10 assists, four steals, and Jarrett Allen added 17 points and 13 rebounds, while Gary Harris paced the Magic with 19 points, and Anthony had 18 points.

The Cavs woke up, but it was too little, too late. Cleveland was again down seven players, including Collin Sexton(concussion) and Larry Nance Jr.(thumb). Despite the loss, Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff was happy with the fight Cleveland showed against Orlando.

‘Down bodies, down points, and they still found a way to come out and give us all they had in the fourth quarter when they all were exhausted,” Bickerstaff said. “No moral victories, but again, it speaks to the character of our guys.”

Cleveland picked up the intensity on defense, and they used a full-court press, which was very effective. The Cavaliers forced six Magic turnovers, which led to 12 points, and after the game, Bickerstaff explained why he went to the press.

“We needed to find some sort of a spark,” he said. “And we went to that full-court press, and obviously, it gave us a lift.”

With 10 games left, Cleveland is pretty much playing for pride at this point, and they showed a lot of that against Orlando. The Cavaliers hope to snap their four-game losing streak on Friday night against the Wizards.

Notes:

-On Wednesday, Cleveland announced that they have signed G Jeremiah Martin to a two-way contract. The 24-year-old Martin spent the 2020-21 NBA G League season with the Long Island Nets, playing in 15 games (all starts) and averaging 18.5 points, 3.7 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 2.4 steals in 31.8 minutes. He was previously a two-way player with the Brooklyn Nets during the 2019-20 season.

-Taurean Prince underwent left ankle arthroscopic surgery, the team announced on Wednesday. No word on when he will return, but Prince is probably out for the season.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Garland against Wiz: ‘I thought that he was great tonight in taking that load and carrying that burden’

Without their leading scorer Collin Sexton, the Cleveland Cavaliers traveled to D.C. to battle the red-hot Washington Wizards on Sunday night. Coming into the game, the tenth-seeded Wizards had won seven straight. 

Behind the play of Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen, Cleveland took a six-point lead into the fourth quarter. However, Bradley Beal scored nine of his game-high 33 points in the fourth as the Wizards defeated the Cavaliers 119-110 to win their eighth straight.

Garland had 29 points and nine assists, and Allen had a career-high 27 points to go along with a game-high 12 rebounds. 

The game was tied at 108 with just under three minutes left, but Washington closed the game on a 9-2 run to cement the victory.

According to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team got some good looks down the stretch, but they could not knock down the shots. 

“I thought we had some good looks,” Bickerstaff said. “I thought we did a really good job on some of those of penetrating and getting inside the restricted area. We didn’t convert.”

Despite the loss, the 21-year-old Garland was a bright spot for the Cavaliers. In the last five games, he is averaging 25.0 points and 7.4 assists. Bickerstaff discussed what he saw out of the second-year point guard against Washington

“He was doing it all. He was a lead guard,” Bickerstaff said. “He was asked to score, he was asked to distribute and play both ends of the floor, and I thought he was excellent tonight. Anytime you make teams have to make an adjustment on you, that means you’re doing the job. And I thought that he was great tonight in taking that load and carrying that burden.”

The Cavaliers, who have lost seven of their last nine games, are six games behind the Wizards with 12 games left. At this point, it’s going to be an uphill battle for Cleveland to make the playoffs. However, seeing Garland play at this level has to be exciting for the Cavaliers.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Hornets: ‘We weren’t able to get enough stops down the stretch’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(21-38) continued their playoff push on Friday night in Charlotte(29-30) against the Hornets, a team they had beaten twice this season, and for most of the game, it appeared the Cavaliers could do it again. Cleveland led 55-48 at halftime but was outscored in the third quarter by seven, and the game was tied at 78 entering the fourth.

Charlotte’s Terry Rozier scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth; Miles Bridges hit two dagger corner jump shots and scored seven of his 25 points in the fourth, and P.J. Washington also scored seven of his 25 in the final quarter as the Hornets avoided the season series sweep by the Cavs and won 108-102 at Spectrum Center. 

Cleveland was led by Collin Sexton’s 28 points and Darius Garland’s 27. 

“Give them credit; they made plays down the stretch,” Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, who returned after missing Wednesday’s game due to personal reasons, said after the game. “Bridges hit big shots, Washington hit big shots. We weren’t able to get enough stops down the stretch.”

Turnovers were an issue for the Cavaliers on Friday night. Cleveland committed six of their 16 turnovers in the third quarter, and they got beat up on the glass. Charlotte had 15 offensive rebounds and 18 second-chance points. 

“I think the offensive rebounds hurt us for sure,” Bickerstaff said. “We gave up 15 offensive rebounds, and they won the turnover battle, so if you are given them extra possessions on the offensive boards, and you’re not taken care of the ball, that makes it difficult.”

Charlotte’s Bismack Biyombo was huge on the glass. He finished with 11 rebounds, including nine on the offensive glass. According to Jarrett Allen, that’s on him.

“I have to do a better job,” Allen said. “That falls on me. On my matchup, he got way too many offensive rebounds, which turned to extra possessions for the Charlotte Hornets, which led to extra threes on their end, so just put that side on me.”

With the loss on Friday night, Cleveland falls to five games behind the 10th-seeded Wizards, who the Cavaliers will play in D.C. on Sunday night. Washington has won seven straight and playing their best basketball of the season. There are 13 games left, so if Cleveland wants to make the playoffs, which is a long shot at this point, they have to beat Washington on Sunday night. 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff to miss game against Bulls

Cleveland Cavaliers Head Coach J.B. Bickerstaff will not coach tonight’s game against the Chicago Bulls at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse due to personal reasons, the team announced.

Assistant Coach Greg Buckner will serve as head coach tonight.

According to the team, Bickerstaff is expected to return on Friday, April  23rd at Charlotte.

The Cavaliers(20-37) are currently on a three-game losing streak after falling to the Detroit Pistons on Monday night.

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘We gotta grow up, and it’s that simple’

After their disappointing loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday night, the thought from the coaching staff and team is that the Cavaliers would be much better against the depleted Detroit Pistons on Monday night. 

Detroit(18-40) has the worst record in the Eastern Conference and was without seven players, including their leading scorer Jerami Grant and their top rebounder in Mason Plumlee. However, none of that mattered on Monday night, especially in the first quarter. Detroit led by as much as 23 points in that quarter, and while the Cavs(20-37) would take their first  lead midway through the fourth, Detroit was able to take control down the stretch and win 109-105 at Little Caesars Arena.

Detroit’s Saddiq Bey and Frank Jackson had 20 points apiece. Bey had 18 points in the first quarter, including six threes. Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 28 points, and Darius Garland added 23.

Cleveland, who has lost three straight, outscored Detroit in every quarter after their bad start. However, according to Cavaliers head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, Cleveland was done in by the first quarter. 

“It was the first quarter that did us in,” Bickerstaff said. “To me, all that other stuff that happens afterward is irrelevant.”

The team’s approach to the game let Bickerstaff down, and according to him, it shows that the team has to grow up.

“It’s a conversation about our approach and a maturity level that we’ve yet reach,” he said. “And the thought that we wouldn’t come out tonight and play spirited basketball is disappointing…

“I love the dudes in that locker room. I think their heart and minds are in the right place, but we gotta grow up, and it’s that simple.”

Considering what was at stake regarding the playoffs, Monday night’s performance was unacceptable. However, it’s all a part of the process. Hopefully, these young guys can use this moment as a learning experience for the rest of this season and beyond.

Cleveland is now four games behind the Bulls for the 10th and final playoff spot with 15 games remaining. Cleveland will host the Bulls on Wednesday night.

Cavs’ Sexton: ‘I feel like we can make a push’

The Cleveland Cavaliers(20-35) had a full roster on Thursday night against the Warriors(28-28), and things started well for this team. Cleveland led by as much as 11 points in the first quarter and had a 31-26 lead after one. However, Golden State outscored the Cavs by 14 in the second quarter and took control of the game from there.

Golden State led by as much as 18 points in the second quarter and by as much as 15 points in the third quarter. Cleveland got the lead down to four in the third, but it wasn’t enough as they would fall to the Warriors 119-101 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Steph Curry had 20 of his 33 points in the second half, and Andrew Wiggins added 23 points. For Cleveland, Collin Sexton, who returned after missing two games due to a groin injury, had 30, and Darius Garland poured in 20 points. 

Cleveland played unselfish basketball in the first quarter and had nine assists on 13 made field goals, but they had only 12 assists over the final three quarters. 

After the game, Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff discussed the lack of ball movement.

“The focus has to be on the ball movement,” he said. “That ball can’t get “sticky.” We gotta continue to move the ball; we gotta continue to cut, let our big guys play make… But we just can’t get stagnant; that’s where we gotta continue to improve.”

Despite the loss, Sexton is confident Cleveland can make a push for the playoffs.

“We’re going to be fine,” he said. “This last stretch, I feel like we can make a push. We gotta take it one day at a time.”

Cleveland now has five of their next six on the road, which starts Saturday night in a big game against the 10th-seeded Bulls, who the Cavs must catch to make it in the play-in tournament. Cleveland is currently 2.5 games behind Chicago.

According to reports, Chicago will be without their leading scorer Zach LaVibe(health and safety protocols), which gives Cleveland an advantage going into this contest. 

The time is now to make that playoff push, and we’ll see if the Cavs can seize the moment.