Tyler Herro named NBA Sixth Man of the Year

Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro has been named the 2021-22 NBA Sixth Man of the Year, the NBA announced today. 

Herro, the first Heat player to win the award, received 488 total points (96 first-place votes) from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love finished in second place with 214 points (three first-place votes). Phoenix Suns forward Cam Johnson finished in third place with 128 points (one first-place vote).

In his third NBA season, the 22-year-old Herro averaged 20.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 4.0 assists in 32.6 minutes in 66 games (10 starts). His scoring average of 20.8 points as a reserve was the highest in the NBA. Herro’s eight 30-point games off the bench were tied for the third-most since the 1970-71 season, and his 20 25-point games were tied for the fourth-most. 

Setting a single-season franchise record with 1,162 points off the bench, Herro helped the Heat finish top seed in the Eastern Conference.

Miami is currently facing the Philadelphia 76ers in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, with Game 2 to be played on Wednesday.

The voting results for the 2021-22 Kia NBA Sixth Man of the Year Award are below:

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:

Cavs start slow, finish strong but fall in Brooklyn

The Cleveland Cavaliers were hoping to punch their ticket to the NBA Playoffs when they battled the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center Tuesday night in the Play-In Tournament.

Cleveland never led and trailed by 20 points after the first quarter and was down by as many as 22. The Cavs battled back and cut the lead to five late in the game; however, they could not get any closer as the Nets defeated Cleveland 115-108. 

Kyrie Irving had 34 points(12/15 FG, 3/6 3-PT FG) and 12 assists; Irving made his first 12 shots; Kevin Durant added 25 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, and three blocks.

The Nets get the seventh seed in the East and will battle the second seed, the Boston Celtics. The Cavs will try to get the eighth seed Friday night against the winner of Hornets/Hawks.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

Darius Garland scored 16 of his 34 points in the fourth. Garland scored the first nine points for Cleveland in the final quarter, and he tried to rescue the Cavs. 

The moment was not too big for him, and the moment has not been too big for him all season long. This is what you want from your best player in a big spot. The All-Star also added five assists and two steals. 

-The moment wasn’t too big for rookie Evan Mobley as well. He had 14 of his 19 points in the second half to go along with seven rebounds and two blocks. Mobley has been steady all season long, and he was steady Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

-Rajon Rondo morphed into “Playoff Rondo” against the Nets. He made the right play time after time. The stat line wasn’t super impressive as Rondo had seven points and nine assists in 26 minutes of action, but he got it done for the Cavs. Rondo and Caris LeVert were the only two Cavs with a positive rating(+2), and Rondo had the best rating in the second half for Cleveland at +9. 

Any Quarter but the First: Cleveland trailed by 20 after the first quarter, but they outscored Brooklyn by 13 points in the final three quarters. They held Brooklyn to 17 points in the second quarter. After shooting 35% in the first half, Cleveland shot 55% from the field, including 50% from deep in the second half. They scored 35 points in the fourth quarter on 55% shooting, but unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Quarter: Last Friday, the Cavaliers trailed Brooklyn 34-19 after one quarter, and Tuesday night, the Nets got off to another great start. Brooklyn shot 71% from the floor, including 67% from downtown. Kyrie Irving was 5/5 from the field and scored 11 points in the first quarter; he finished with 20 points in the first half on 9/9 shooting.

The Nets led 40-20 after one quarter and 57-43 at halftime.

Turnovers: Cleveland had 15 turnovers, which led to 24 points for Brooklyn. 

-Isaac Okoro: The second-year guard struggled with his shot Tuesday night. He was 0/3 from the field, all threes, and finished with zero points in 13 minutes. No one expects Okoro to score a bunch, but he had open looks, and he has to make some of those open shots.

Bottom Line:

You can’t spot Brooklyn 20 points and expect to win. Cleveland played well after the first quarter, but they were swimming upstream just like last Friday’s game.

Brooklyn could win a championship, so there is no shame in losing this game. Cleveland has two games to win one. Hopefully, they can get back their All-Star center Jarrett Allen. Cleveland is 35-21 with Allen this season and 9-17 without him, so getting him back would help.

Getting to the playoffs won’t be easy; it should be fun to see the excitement at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse Friday night.

What’s Next:

The Cavs return home to battle the winner of Hornets/Hawks in the Play-In Game.

Best of the Rest:

-Kevin Love had a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds; Lauri Markkanen chipped in with 13 points, and LeVert had 12 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.  

-Bruce Brown had 18 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, and three steals; Andre Drummond chipped in with 16 points and eight rebounds, and Nic Claxton had 13 points and nine rebounds.

Listen below as Garland and Love discuss the team’s loss to Brooklyn:

Kevin Love leads Cleveland to eighth seed

The Cleveland Cavaliers came into Sunday’s action against the Milwaukee Bucks looking to get at least the eighth seed in the East or, if the Nets stumble versus the Pacers, the seventh seed.  

Fortunately, the Bucks decided to rest their whole starting lineup, and the Cavs took full advantage. Cleveland led by as many as 40 points and routed the Bucks 133-115 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Unfortunately, the Nets defeated the Pacers, so they will be the seventh seed, while the Cavs will be the eighth seed in the East, so Cleveland will to travel to Brooklyn Tuesday night in the Play-In Tournament. 

Cleveland finished the season 44-38, and the Bucks ended the year 51-31.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Kevin Love, who played only 15 minutes, scored 23 of his 32 points in the first half off the bench. The five-time All-Star made a career-high tying eight threes. He finished 10/16 from the field, including 8/11 from deep. He also added 10 rebounds. Love had 18 points, including five threes in the first quarter. Here’s the crazy part, according to Elias Sports, Love is the first player in the shot-clock era (since 1954) to record 30-plus points and 10-plus rebounds in under 16 minutes of action.

-Evan Mobley had a double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds, and he also added four blocks. Mobley finished the regular season with 21 double-doubles, the fourth-most for a rookie in Cavs’ history. 

-Lauri Markkanen had 23 points(4/7 3-PT FG) and seven rebounds. 

First Half: The Cavs jumped on the Pacers early and did not let up. Cleveland tied a season-high with 46 points in the first quarter, which tied a franchise record for most points in any quarter in team history. Cleveland shot 60% from the floor, including 10/15(67%) from downtown. They led by 26(46-20) after one.

Ultimately, the Cavs scored 79 points in the first half and led by 33 points(79-46) at the break.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Not today!!!

Bottom Line:

The Cavs caught a break as the Bucks were clearly not looking to win this game. Now, it’s time to prepare to head to Brooklyn to face the seventh-seeded Nets.

Brooklyn will be tough to beat, but it’s one game, so anything is possible.

On Friday, the Cavs were down 17 points in the first quarter against the Nets and were swimming upstream the rest of the way; they took the lead in the third but fell short in the fourth, so Cleveland must get off to a better start.

Playing Brooklyn again could be to the Cavs’ benefit.  For example, last season, the Memphis Grizzlies lost to the Golden State Warriors on the road in the season finale. A week later, Memphis went back on the road and beat the Warriors in the Play-In Tournament, so again, anything is possible. 

Fortunately, as the eighth seed, Cleveland will have two games to win one, so if they fall short against the Nets, they will have a home game against the winner of the Hornets(10) and Hawks(9).

Quotes:

“I like our chances when it comes down to a dog fight,” Love said after the win. “That’s what it’s going to be come Tuesday night.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs travel to Brooklyn to battle the Nets Tuesday night in the Play-In Tournament.

Best of the Rest:

-Mobley finished the season with 1,034 points, 570 rebounds(MOST among rookies), 174 assists, 115 blocks(MOST among rookies), 56 steals, and 21 double-doubles(MOST among rookies). 

-Love finished with 187 threes this season, which is the fourth most in team history.

-The Cavs finished the season 25-16 at home.

-Rajon Rondo had six points and a season-high 13 assists against the Bucks.

-Sandro Mamukelashvili led the Bucks with a career-high 28 points; Thanasis Antetkuonmpko had a career-high 27 points.

-Before the game, the Cavs announced that they had converted the contract of center Moses Brown to a standard NBA contract and signed guard RJ Nembhard to a two-way contract.

Brown, who would not have been eligible for the playoffs with a two-contract, signed his first 10-day contract with Cleveland on March 10, his second 10-day contract on March 21, and a two-way contract on March 31.  

Nembhard, prior to being waived on April 7, was signed to a standard NBA contract with Cleveland on March 31 and was originally signed to a two-way contract on October 16. Nembhard has appeared in 13 games this season for the Cavaliers and 13 games (12 starts) with the Cleveland Charge.

Listen below as Love and Mobley react to win over Bucks:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

The Great for the Cavs:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

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Bottom Line:

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

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

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

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

Quotes:

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

What’s Next:

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

Best of the Rest:

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

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

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

Watch below as Kevin Love reacts to win over Knicks:

Cavs’ Love: ‘It gutted us to lose Evan(Mobley)’

The Cavaliers hoped to break a three-game losing streak as they hosted the Orlando Magic Monday night.

Cleveland had their largest lead of 20 points in the second quarter, but the Magic would grab the lead in the third. However, the Cavs would pull away in the fourth and win 107-101 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The seventh-seeded Cavs(42-33) snap their three-game losing streak and remain one game behind the sixth-seeded Raptors(43-32), who beat the Celtics in OT Monday night, and the fifth–seeded Bulls(43-32), who fell to the Knicks last night.

Cleveland has now clinched a winning season for the first time since 2018 and for the first time since 1998 without LeBron James.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland had game-highs of 25 points and 12 assists to go along with three steals, and he took over late in the fourth. Cleveland led 95-92 with under four minutes to go, and Garland hit a floater, made a three, and assisted on an alley-oop dunk from Lauri Markkanen to put the Cavs up 102-92 with just over a minute left in the game. This was Garland”s 10th double-double in the month of March.

-Kevin Love came off the bench and got things done for Cleveland. Love scored 14 of his 19 points in the second quarter, including three of his four made threes. At one point, he scored eight straight for the Cavs in the second. Love, who added seven rebounds and three assists, leads Cleveland with 164 threes made this season.

-Lauri Markkanen had 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and gave the Cavs the lead for good with three at the 4:37 mark of the fourth.

-Dylan Windler spent more time in the G League than the NBA this season, but he took advantage of his opportunity Monday night. Windler had six points and nine rebounds, and he was on the court for the final 5-plus minutes of the game. He also won the “Junkyard Dog” award.

The First 3:49 of the Second Quarter: Cleveland began the second quarter on an 18-3 run to take a 20-point lead(largest of the game). During that run, Love had eight points, and Garland added five. However, the Magic would outscore the Cavs 28-15 the rest of the quarter, and Cleveland would lead 60-53 at the break.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Evan Mobley left in the second quarter and did not return after spraining his left ankle. The injury did not look good as Mobley had a noticeable limp, but hopefully, it’s not too serious. The Cavs can’t afford to be without two of the anchors of their defense in Mobley and Jarret Allen.

According ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the X-Rays on Mobley’s sprained left ankle were negative. 

Turnovers:  Cleveland had 15 turnovers, which led to 27 points for Orlando.

Bottom Line:

The Cavs got a win, which is all that matters. It wasn’t their best effort, but again, it’s a win. Now, hopefully, they won’t be without Mobley for too long. They took an emotional hit when the Rookie-of-the-Year favorite went down, which they acknowledged post game. 

This team has fought injuries all year long, and at this point, they are still standing. 

Now, they have to find a will and a way to get that sixth seed with seven games left in the regular season to avoid the Play-in Tournament. 

Quotes:

“It gutted us to lose Evan, whether it’s for a game, two games, three games, or whatever it may be,” Love said post-game.

What’s Next:

Cleveland concludes their three-game homestand Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.

Best of the Rest:

-The Magic had seven players in double figures as Wendell Carter Jr. led the way with a team-high 15 points and a game-high 12 rebounds.

-Isaac Okoro added 11 points for the Cavs.

-Before the game, the Cavaliers announced that forward Dean Wade, who missed the previous seven games dating back to March 14th, underwent successful surgery to treat ongoing issues with the meniscus in his right knee and will miss the remainder of the 2021-22 season.

 In addition, the team announced that guard Rajon Rondo (Right Ankle Sprain) and Cavaliers center Jarrett Allen (Left 3rd Finger Fracture) remain out.

Watch below as Garland reacts to win over the Magic:

 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on loss to Raptors: ‘They outplayed us’

The Cleveland Cavaliers traveled to Toronto to battle the Raptors Thursday night in their biggest game of the season to date. Coming into this game, the sixth-seeded Cavs had a one-game lead over the seventh-seeded Raptors.

Toronto led for most of the game and had their largest lead of 17 points in the fourth as the Raptors defeated the Cavs 117-104 at Scotiabank Arena.

Pascal Siakam had a season-high tying 35 points, including a career-high tying six threes for Toronto as they had six players in double figures.

With the win, the Raptors(41-32) and Cavs(41-32) are tied for the sixth seed in the East, but Cleveland holds the tie-breaker since they won the season series (3=1).

Teams seeded 7-10  in their conference will have to battle it out in the Play-In Tournament to make the playoffs.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Lauri Markkanen came to play Thursday night, and he had a team-high 20 points. In the last 14 games, Markkanen has had 20-plus points six times. 

-Darius Garland had another double-double with 18 points and 10 assists. This is Garland’s fourth straight double-double. He did not shoot it well(7/18 FG, 1/6 3-PT FG), but he did do his part.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

First Quarter: Cleveland led 10-5 with just under eight minutes in the first, but they were outscored 20-7 the rest of the quarter, including a 15-0 run from Toronto. The Cavs struggled to score as they shot 30% from the field, including 1/8 from downtown. After the first, Toronto led 25-17 and took a 58-48 lead at halftime.

Cleveland’s three-point defense: The Cavs allowed Toronto to make 16 threes, nine of which came in the second half. 

Fast Break Points: Cleveland let the Raptors have a lot of success in transition. The Raptors had 18 fast break points, which means Cleveland allowed too many easy buckets. Cleveland also had 13 turnovers, which led to 17 points for Toronto.

Fourth Quarter: Toronto led 83-75 after three quarters, and they shot it well in fourth. The Raptors shot 60% from the floor. Cleveland cutt the lead to seven with just under 10 minutes to go, but the Raptors went on a 12-5 run to push the lead to 14. Toronto outscored the Cavs 34-29 in the fourth.

Evan Mobley: Coming into Thursday’s game against Toronto, Mobley(two games) was averaging 19 points and 11 rebounds against the Raptors. Mobley shot 14 times in the first matchup and 15 times in the game against the Raptors on March 6, where he had 20 points and 17 rebounds.

On Thursday night, Mobley got up only seven shots and finished with 11 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks. Clearly, he needed more touches.

Bottom Line:

Toronto is playing some good basketball right now and has won seven of their last nine games, so the Raptors are hot basketball team.

This was another game that had a playoff atmosphere, and the Cavs were just not up to the task. The Raptors are a battled-tested team, and they looked that way Thursday night.

Regarding Toronto, three of their final nine games are against teams in the playoffs(1-6 in their respective conference), while five of the Cavs’ final nine games are against playoff teams(1-6 in their respective conference), so you could argue the schedule favors the Raptors.

Quotes:

“They outplayed us,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said about Toronto. “Give them credit where credit is due.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs begin a three-game homestand Saturday night in Cleveland against the Bulls.

Best of the Rest:

Kevin Love got the start for Cleveland and had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Lamar Stevens was in double figures for the third straight game as he had 16 points and six rebounds off the bench. Cleveland had six players in double figures Thursday night.

-Chris Boucher had 17 points off the Raptors’ bench.

Watch below as Bickerstaff reacts to loss to Raptors:

Cavs had no answers for ‘The King’

There was a familiar face back in Cleveland Monday as LeBron James, and the Lakers were in town to battle the Cavaliers.

Cleveland got the start they wanted as they had their largest lead of 14 points in the first, but the Lakers have a King, and behind a James’ triple-double of 38 points, 11 rebounds, and a season-high 12 assists, the Lakers defeated the Cavs 131-120 to sweep the season-series.

James even had this vicious dunk on his former teammate Kevin Love:

Cleveland(41-31) finished their five-game homestand 3-2, while the Lakers(31-41) went 2-2 on their four-game road trip.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland played at an elite level Monday night. He had 29 points and 17 assists, with only one turnover. This was Garland’s third straight game of 24-plus points and 12-plus assists, which ties a team record held by James.

-Lauri Markkanen had 18 points and nine rebounds. Markkanen has been in double figures in seven of the last eight games.

-For the second consecutive game, Lamar Stevens was in double figures as he had 16 points and six rebounds.

-Cavs’ Offense: Cleveland had six players in double figures, including all five starters. In addition, the Cavs shot 52% from the floor. Cleveland had 52 points in the paint and scored 120, which would probably equate to a victory on most nights.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland took a 97-96 lead into the fourth, but the Lakers dominated from there. Los Angeles got 13 points from James and 12 points from Stanley Johnson in the quarter. Also, the Lakers shot 65% from the field, and they got anywhere they wanted on the floor. The Lakers outscored Cleveland 35-23 in the final stanza.

Defense: According to Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the defense was “terrible.” The last time the Cavs allowed over 130 points was when they lost to Memphis(132) in the season-opener. The Lakers scored 64 points in the paint and shot 56% from the field. Just like the Cavs, they had six players in double figures.

Coming into this game, Cleveland was third in points allowed, but the defense was lacking Monday night. 

Second Quarter: Cleveland led 35-28 after the first quarter, but the Laker stormed back in the second. Los Angeles shot 71% from the field, including 57% from downtown in the quarter. After the Cavs pushed the lead to eight, Los Angeles went on a 16-7 run to take their first lead of the game(46-45). Cleveland struggled from deep in the second as they shot 3/14 from behind the arc. Los Angeles outscored Cleveland 39-27 in the second and took a 67-62 lead at the break.

Bottom Line:

LeBron James was on another level Monday night, which often happens when he returns to Cleveland. In addition, the Cavs’ defense was just not very good.

This was a very winnable game for the Cavs. Coming into this contest, the Lakers had dropped six of eight and were 10-24 on the road, so again, Cleveland should have won.

With the loss, the sixth-seeded Cavs are now one game up on the seventh-seeded Raptors(40-32), who they will battle in a big one Thursday night.

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads to Toronto to battle the Raptors Thursday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Isaac Okoro was 4/4 from three-point range and scored 12 points for Cleveland; Caris LeVert had 13 points off the bench.

Russell Westbrook had 20 points and 11 assists; D.J. Augustin was 7/7 from the field, including 6/6 from three-point range and finished with 20 points off the bench.

-James, who spent 11 seasons in Cleveland and led the team to their only NBA title, is now 17-1 against the Cavs in his career. In those 18 games, he’s averaging 29.6 points, 7.1 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per contest.

Watch below as Garland and Stevens react to the loss to Los Angeles:

 

 

 

Cavs battle back to defeat the Pistons

The Cleveland Cavaliers had to work overtime to defeat the Nuggets Friday night, and they had to turn back around and host the Pistons Saturday night.

The Cavs battled back from a 12-point deficit in the third to defeat the Pistons 113-109 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

For the second straight night, Cleveland had three players(Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Kevin Love) record doubles-doubles. 

In addition, the Cavs had six players in double figures.

Jerami Grant led the Pistons with a season-high 40 points, including seven threes.

The Cavs(41-30) have won two straight, while the Pistons(19-52) have lost five of six.

The Great for the Cavs:

-Kevin Love gave Cleveland the spark it needed off the bench. Love scored nine of his 14 points in the third. The Pistons had their largest lead of the night at 78-66 with 4:14 left in the third, but Cleveland went on a 16-3 run to close the quarter, and nine of those 16 points came from Love. Cleveland took an 82-81 lead into the fourth. Love also added 10 rebounds. 

-Cedi Osman had back-to-back DNPs, but when he got his opportunity Saturday, he took full advantage of it. Osman scored nine of his 16 points in the fourth. According to Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, the team does not defeat the Pistons without the contributions of Osman. 

Cleveland will need Osman come playoff time.

-Darius Garland led the way with 24 points, 12 assists, and two steals in 41 minutes of action. This is Garland’s seventh double-double in the last nine games. What a season for the first time All-Star. Garland also received the “Junkyard Dog Award” for playing 40-plus minutes in back-to-back nights.

-Evan Mobley filled the stat sheet Saturday night; he had 12 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. According to Cavs Notes, he became the sixth player in team history to record 20 double-doubles in their rookie season. 

The Final 4:14 of Third Quarter: See Kevin Love above

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland was rolling heading into the fourth. They went on a 17-8 run to take their largest lead of the night at 99-89. Detroit cut the lead to 105-102 with under two minutes to go, but Isaac Okoro hit a corner three, which was the dagger. Garland was 3/3 and scored seven points, and dished out six assists in the quarter. The Cavs shot 68% from the floor, including 67% from deep in the final stanza.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

Second Quarter: Cleveland led 28-27 after one but was sluggish in the second. The Cavs took a 36-27 lead with 9:28 left in the quarter, but Detroit took a five-point lead after a 14-0 run. The Cavs shot 39% from the field, including 1/7 from three-point range. Conversely, Detroit shot 50% from the field. The Pistons took a 60-55 lead at the break.

Bottom Line:

If Cleveland had lost to the Pistons, it probably would have been the worst loss of the season when you consider what’s at stake. However, they woke up just in time and got the win.

The Cavs don’t ever give up. They have so much character and battle to end. Cleveland did what good teams do when they’re not at their best; they just find ways.

The sixth-seeded Cavs are now 1.5 games ahead of the seventh-seeded Raptors(39-31), and Cleveland is not 1/2 game behind the fifth-seed, the Chicago Bulls.

Quotes:

“The fans are always engaged here,” Bickerstaff said about Cleveland fans. “And you can feel the wave that comes over the building, which is why I think it’s one of the best arenas in the league.”

What’s Next:

The Cavs conclude their five-game homestand Monday night against LeBron James and the Lakers.

Best of the Rest: 

-Lamar Stevens added 15 points(6/7 FG) and five rebounds. 

-Lauri Markkanen made his 600th career three-pointer. He finished with eight points. 

-Cleveland moved to 8-0 this season when three-players record double-doubles.

-The Cavs are 3-1 on their current homestand.

Watch below as Bickerstaff talks Cavs’ win over Pistons:

 

 

 

 

Cavs scrap their way to victory against Denver

After coming off a tough loss to the 76ers Wednesday night, Cleveland continued their five-game homestand Friday against the Denver Nuggets.

The Cavs got double-doubles from Lauri Markkanen, Darius Garland, and Evan Mobley as they defeated the Nuggets 119-116 in OT at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Denver had an opportunity to tie the game in OT, but Bones Hyland missed a three at the buzzer, and Cleveland got the big victory.

The Cavs(40-30) are now 2-1 on their homestand.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Lauri, Lauri, Lauri! Markkanen was big-time Friday night. He had a season-high 31 points(11/16 FG), including six threes, 10 rebounds, and a career-high four steals. With the game tied at 114 in OT, Markkanen made the go-ahead three with 28.3 seconds left. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said the team does not defeat Denver without Markkanen. He went toe-to-toe with Nikola Jokic and got the job done.

-Evan Mobley is going to be something. Mobley scored nine of the team’s 12 points in OT, and he finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and two blocks. Additionally, he had a big layup plus the foul to put Cleveland up three late in OT, which helped the Cavs hold on to the lead.

The rookie continues to play well at the center spot for the injured Jarrett Allen. Since he became the starter at center, Mobley is averaging 21.3 points and 9.5 rebounds per contest.

-Of course, Darius Garland had his fingerprints on this victory. The All-Star had 25 points, four rebounds, and 14 assists. This was Garland’s six double-double in eight games. Garland had the biggest offensive rebound of the game in OT, which set up Markkanen’s three that gave the Cavs the lead for good.

-Kevin Love battled Friday night. He scored nine of his 12 points(4/9 3PT FG) and grabbed five of his nine rebounds in the fourth quarter. Love worked tirelessly to keep Jokic off the glass and, along the way, made some big shots. For his efforts, Love earned “The Junkyard Dog Award” for his work on defense and on the boards.

Fourth Quarter: The Cavaliers trailed by 11(63-52) at halftime and by nine(87-78) going into the fourth. Denver matched their largest lead of the game of 14 in the final quarter, and with the Cavs trailing by 12 with just over eight minutes to go in regulation; Cleveland went on 20-6 run to take their first lead since early in the second quarter. The Cavs shot 53% from the floor, including 63% from deep in the fourth, and limited the Nuggets to 1/8 from three=point range. Cleveland would outscore Denver 29-20 in the quarter to get the game to OT.

Overtime: See Evan Mobley, Lauri Markkanen, and Darius Garland above. Cleveland outscored the Nuggets 12-9 in OT.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-We can point to their poor second quarter, where they were outscored 34-21, but not today. This win is too good to be negative.

Bottom Line:

This was a gut-check for the Cavs, and they battled and fought their way to victory. This team showed heart, grit, and to steal a word from Bickerstaff, scrap, to defeat the Nuggets. There is  little margin for error for the Cavs, and based on how they fought back against Denver, this team knows that.

As for the standings, Cleveland now has sole possession of the sixth spot in the East after the Raptors(39-31) fell to the Lakers at home in OT. The Cavs essentially have a two-game lead  because they have taken the season-series over the Raptors(3-0).

The two teams play one more time next week.

What’s Next:

Cleveland hosts the Detroit Pistons Saturday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Jokic led Denver with 32 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists. Aaron Gordon added 20 points, and Hyland had 17 points off the bench. The Nuggets had six players in double figures.

-For the second straight game, Cedi Osman was a DNP-CD. After their loss to Philly, Bickerstaff said the team wanted to give Dylan Windler minutes, which means Osman sits for now. We’ll probably see Osman again at some point.