Cavs’ Osman on loss to Suns: ‘We compete’

The Phoenix Suns rode into Cleveland to face the Cavaliers on a 13-game winning streak, so Cleveland knew they would have their hands full Wednesday night.

The Cavaliers battled the Western Conference champions to the end, but they would lose 120-115 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Cavaliers(9-10) have lost five straight, while the Suns(15-3) extend their win streak to 14 games.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to Phoenix.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Cedi Osman returned Wednesday after missing two games with a back spasms, and he was outstanding. Osman had 23 points off Cleveland’s bench, including a team-high five threes. It was a night of milestones for Osman as he got his 200th career steal and 1,000th career field goal.

=Jarrett Allen is having a great season, and maybe an All-Star caliber season. Allen had 18 of his team-high 25 points(9-10 FG) in the first half against the Suns and collected 11 rebounds. He went head-to-head with Deandre Ayton and was dominant. The 18 points in a half was a career-high for Allen.

-Darius Garland was in foul trouble for most of the night and fouled out in the fourth, but he had another solid night with 19 points and seven assists.

-Second Quarter:  Cleveland trailed 36-33 after one but picked things up in the second quarter. They had another 33-point quarter led by Ricky Rubio’s 12 points. In addition, they picked it up on the defensive end as the Cavs held Phoenix to 38% from the field, including 1/6 from downtown. Cleveland would take a 66-61 lead into halftime. The 66 points were the most the Cavs scored in the first half this season.

Grit, Heart, Scrap: The Cavs showed all these things against the Suns. Their grit, heart, and scrap almost got them a victory, but the Suns are so good and know how to make all the right plays down the stretch. However, that does not take away from the effort the Cavs displayed.

Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Third Quarter: The third quarter was the worst shooting quarter for the Cavs Wednesday night. They shot 37% from the field, including 1/5 from downtown. Phoenix, who leads the league in team field goal percentage, shot 48 percent from the floor and ultimately took a one-point lead into the fourth. The Suns finished the game shooting 51% from the field.

-Fourth Quarter Defense: The Cavs were not bad in the fourth quarter, but they gave Phoenix too many good looks. Phoenix had their best shooting quarter of the game as they shot 11/18(61%) from the floor; only one of those 11 field goals was a three, so a lot of mid-range jumpers from the Suns, including down the stretch when Chris Paul hit a pull up jumper with just under two minutes left to give Phoenix the lead for good.

Second Half Ricky Rubio: Rubio scored 12 of his 15 points in the first half(4/11 FG). Second half, much different story as Rubio was 1/9 from the field and had three points. On two occasions, with the Suns leading by three late, Phoenix purposely fouled Rubio and would not let Cleveland get off a three-point shot. However, both times Rubio missed the first free throw, and ultimately, the Suns’ plan worked. Rubio finished the game shooting 5/20 from the field.

Bottom Line:

Again, again, again, there are no moral victories in the NBA. Absolutely none! However, the Cavs are building; they were without one of their best players in Evan Mobley, and the Suns have won 14 straight, so give Cleveland credit; they went toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in basketball and did not blink. So, for me, the Cavs get a moral victory against the Suns. Sadly, it does not count in the standings.

“Obviously, was a tough ending for us but for the 48 minutes, we were right there,” Osman said. “We compete.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland finishes off their four-game homestand Saturday night against the Orlando Magic. The Cavs our 0-3 on this homestand.

Best of the Rest:

-Phoenix had six players in double figures as Devin Booker had a game-high 35 points. Paul had 17 points and a game-high 11 assists. Deandre Ayton had 16 points and nine rebounds. JaVale McGee had a double-double with 13 points and a game-high 12 rebounds off the bench.

-Cleveland also had six players in double figures. Lauri Markkanen had a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Kevin Love had 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench. Cleveland had 52 points off their bench.

-Phoenix’s 14-game win streak started on October 30th against guess who? The Cavaliers.

Watch below as Osman and Allen talk loss to Suns:

Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘I thought there were definitely some calls that were missed’

The Cleveland Cavaliers did something that no team has done to the Brooklyn Nets, and that’s lead by double-digits at halftime.

However, they play two halves in the NBA, and in the second half, Brooklyn(13-5) outscored Cleveland 65-49 and defeated the Cavs 117-112 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse on Monday night.

The Cavaliers(9-9) have now lost four straight.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-After missing three games due to illness, Cavs C Jarrett Allen had 20 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Allen played well against his former team and was active on both ends of the court. 

-Darius Garland had 16 of his 24 points in the first half, 11 assists, and five rebounds against the Nets, but he did not shoot that great from the field(9/27). However, he made everything go for the Cavs last night. For example, Cleveland was leading 73-64 with just under seven minutes left in the third when Garland, after taking a blow to the face from DeAndre’ Bembry, left the game. The Cavs were outscored 16-7 with Garland off the court, and ultimately, Brooklyn would have the momentum and take a two-point lead into the fourth.

-Lauri Markkanen made his return after missing nine games due to COVID. In his return, Markkanen scored 22 points and added eight rebounds. 

-Second Quarter: Cleveland got out fast against Brooklyn and played exceptionally well in the second quarter as they outscored Brooklyn 36-26. The Cavs shot 53% from the floor in the quarter and took an 11-point lead into halftime.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

-Third Quarter: See Garland at the top, but Cleveland was outscored 32-19 in the third. The Cavs shot 24% from the field, including 20% from three-point range. Furthermore, Brooklyn got hot in third and shot 57% from the floor. 

Fourth Quarter Garland: The third-year guard shot 1/10 from the floor in the fourth, including 0/3 from downtown. 

Referees?:  After the game, Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff made it clear that he was not happy with the officiating on Monday night. With Cleveland trailing 106-105 late in the fourth, Ricky Rubio shot a three in the corner but was called for an offensive foul. It was a close call and one that the Cavs tried to challenge, but to no avail, as the referee did not see Bickerstaff calling for a timeout.

Patty Mills would hit a three for Brooklyn on the following possession to put the Nets up 109-105.

According to Cleveland.com, the Cavs were angry about a few calls, including two “phantom” calls on Kevin Durant jumpers — one early and one late. Constant uncalled contact on Darius Garland drives that led to just four free throws and Allen getting mugged in the paint.

“What’s right is right, and I thought there were definitely some calls that were missed, and that is wrong,” Bickerstaff said after the game.

Brooklyn has called for seven more fouls than Cleveland on Monday night.

Bottom Line:

The biggest stretch in this one is when Garland had to leave the game in the third. Cleveland lost their rhythm with him off the court. However, Brooklyn is an excellent team, and you’re going to have to be at your best to beat them. The Cavs are a work in progress, and obviously, this is a game they would have liked to have gotten, but learning how to win these close games consistently takes time. 

Back to Bickerstaff’s rant about the refs, he did the right thing, and every so often, even if it cost you money, you have to protect your players, and that is what he did on Monday night. 

Watch Bickerstaff’s rant below:

 

Best of the Rest:

-Cleveland had five guys in double figures, and all five players scored at least 15 points or more for the second time this season. Rubio had 16 points, seven rebounds, and five assists off the bench.

-Kevin Durant led Brooklyn with 27 points; LaMarcus Aldridge added 21 points off the bench, Patty Mills had 17 points, including a game-high five threes, and James Harden had 14 points and a game-high 14 assists. Brooklyn also had five players in double figures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cavs’ Allen: ‘We want people to look at us and say, ‘We need to bring our A game’

Winning on the road is always tricky in the NBA and even more difficult for a young team. However, on Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers(4-4) ended their successful road trip with a victory.

The Cavaliers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 113-110 at Spectrum Center to end their five-game road trip 3-2. 

Cleveland led by as many as 19 points on Monday night, including a season-high 40-point first quarter. The Cavaliers had six players in double figures. Charlotte(5-3) got back into the game and threatened late, but it wasn’t enough.

Here is the Great, Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Hornets.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Jarrett Allen set the tone for Cleveland on Monday night. He led the Cavaliers with a team-high 24 points(9/13 FG) and a game-high 16 rebounds. Allen had 15 points in the first quarter, which is a new career-high in points in a quarter. 

-Evan Mobley finished the five-game road trip on a high note after scoring only two points against Phoenix on Saturday night. The rookie had a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Mobley also added two steals and a block.

First-quarter: Cleveland scored a season-high 40 points in the quarter. They shot 51% from the field. They forced eight Hornets’ turnovers, which led to 12 Cleveland points.

-Lauri Markkanen had season-highs in points(21) and blocks(3). He also grabbed eight rebounds against Charlotte, and while he did not shoot(7/19 FG) it well on Monday, he did impact the game in other areas.

-Cedi Osman was great for the Cavs off the bench. He scored 13 points(4/5 from three-point range). Cleveland needed others to step up without Kevin Love(Health & Safety Protocols) and Isaac Okoro(hamstring), and Osman did just that.

-Defense: Cleveland set season highs in steals (12) and blocks (8). 

Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

-Cleveland had 16 turnovers against Charlotte. The Cavs have to do a better job of protecting the ball.

Bottom Line:

What an excellent trip for Cleveland. They beat three playoff teams from a year ago(Hornets, Clippers, Nuggets) and were in a position to beat the Lakers and Suns. On paper, you thought the Cavs would maybe get one game on this trip, but they got three wins, and now they go home happy.

“Over the past few years it’s been like, ‘Oh, it’s the Cavs, it’s an off night.’ I’m just being honest, that’s how people looked at us,” Allen said. “But know we want people to look at us and say, ‘We need to bring our A game.'”

What’s next:

The Cavaliers head home to battle the Blazers on Wednesday night.

Best of the Rest:

Collin Sexton had 17 points and seven rebounds, and Darius Garland added 16 points, four assists, and three steals.

Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball had 30 points, seven rebounds, and six assists, and Terry Rozier had 23 and six rebounds.

Cavaliers will be better this season, but making the playoffs could be a tall task

The Cleveland Cavaliers begin their 52nd season on Wednesday night in Memphis against the Grizzlies. Cleveland is hoping to make the playoffs this season, and the last time that happened without LeBron James was the 1997-98 season. 

Last season, Cleveland won 22 games, and that was in a 72-game season. This season, they will play a full 82-game schedule, so there is a good chance they will win more than 22 games.

The Cavaliers have a very young team. The oldest player in their expectant starting lineup of Darius Garland(21), Collin Sexton(22), Isaac Okoro(20), Evan Mobley(20), and Jarrett Allen(23) is 23. In fact, Okoro and Mobley are not even 21, so there could be some growing pains. The Cavaliers will have to figure out if the undersized backcourt of Garland(6-1) and Sexton(6-1) can work. The two can work on offense. Sexton is a gifted scorer((24.5 PPG last season), Garland is a decent shooter, and he came on strong last season. Garland, who spent time with the U.S. National team this summer, could take that next step after having career-highs in points(17.4) and assists(6.1) per game last season.

However, defensively, Cleveland struggled. They were 17th in points allowed, which is not awful, but they allowed teams to shoot 48% from the field, which was 29th in the NBA. Maybe, things could get better defensively with Allen(1.4 BPG last season) and Mobley(1.6 BPG led all rookies in preseason) in the lineup. 

Regarding Mobley, the number three overall pick, he has shown flashes in the preseason, but Cleveland will need him to be very good if they want to make the playoffs. Allen should be solid after signing a five-year, $100 million deal in the offseason. Allen, who Cleveland acquired from the Nets in January, averaged a double-double last season (12.8 PPG and 10.0 RPG) for the first time in his career. Okoro, the fifth overall pick in last year’s draft, came on strong near the end of last season as he scored in double-digits in 12 of the final 13 games. However, Cleveland has to find a way to integrate him into the offense.

The Cavaliers will have a better bench this season. The addition of Ricky Rubio helps the second unit and the team. Rubio is a professional point guard, and there will be many times where he will close games for Cleveland. In addition, Kevin Love seems to be buying into his role with Cleveland; if Love(played in only 25 games last season due to calf injury) is healthy, which was an issue last season, he can still knock down shots and give this team good minutes. Also, Cleveland acquired Lauri Markkanen in a sign and trade from the Bulls in a three-team deal that sent Larry Nance Jr. to Portland. Markkanen can score the basketball and averaged a career-high 18.7 PPG in his second season in the league. Markkanen was the only 7-footer in the NBA last season to make 100+ three-pointers (118). He should be instant offense off the bench for Cleveland. The Cavs will have a lot of size this season. They can and will feature a lineup, at times, with three 7-footers in Markkanen, Allen, and Mobley, so that should be interesting. 

Getting to the playoffs won’t be easy for Cleveland. The Eastern Conference is expected to be very good this season. The top six teams from last season, the 76ers, Nets, Bucks, Knicks, Hawks, and Heat, could be better or close to what they were last season. In addition, the last four teams to make the playoff, the Celtics, Wizards, Pacers, and Hornets, could be around the same or better as well. Furthermore, the Chicago Bulls, who added Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan, could be a high-seed in the East.

For Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff to keep his job, Cleveland will have to be better, which they should be. However, better will probably not mean the playoffs. Cleveland does not defend or score well enough for that to happen. But, if Sexton, who the team did not extend before Monday’s deadline, can play with a chip on his shoulder and be better, if Garland takes that next step, if Markkanen shows the league that he can play, if Allen continues to be steady, if Mobley plays like a Rookie-of-the-Year candidate, if Okoro gets better in year two, if Love stays healthy and plays well; maybe Cleveland will get into the play-in tournament.

However, don’t bet on it. Expect this team to win between 25-30 games this season.