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:

Cavs fight but fall short in Brooklyn

The Cleveland Cavaliers had a big one Friday night in Brooklyn against the Nets. The winner of this game would have possession of the seventh seed in the East.

Brooklyn led by as many as 17 points, but Cleveland did take their first lead in the third. However, Brooklyn dominated the fourth and defeated the Cavs 118-107 at Barclays Center.

Kevin Durant had a game-high 36 points; Kyrie Irving and Bruce Brown added 18 points apiece; Brown also added 10 rebounds. All five of Brooklyn’s starters scored in double figures.

Cleveland(43-38) has now lost three straight and dropped to eighth in the East, while the Nets(43-38) have won three straight. Brooklyn won the season series(3-1) over the Cavs, which means they are the seventh seed.

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

The Great for the Cavs:

-Darius Garland played like a superstar against Brooklyn. He shot 12/24 from the field, including three threes, and finished with 31 points in 41 minutes of action. The All-Star scored 21 of those 31 points in the second and third quarters. He probably should have played the whole second half, but we’ll get to that later.

-Evan Mobley was back after missing five games with a sprained ankle, and he picked up where he left off. The rookie had 17 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks. He also became the eighth Cavs rookie to go over 1000 points in a season. Mobley plays winning basketball, and everything he does contributes to winning.

-Lamar Stevens did not fill up the box score as he only had two points on 1/5 shooting from the field to go along with two rebounds, but he did defend his butt off in the third quarter when the Cavs were making their run. Kevin Durant still got his points; however, late in the third, he forced two Durant turnovers. It wasn’t enough, but give Stevens credit.

Second and Third Quarters: Cleveland trailed 34-19 after the first quarter and looked dead in the water. However, in the second quarter, things got better. Garland had 10 points in the quarter; Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 35-28 and trailed 62-54 at the break.

In the third, things got even better for the Cavs. Brooklyn led 70-60 with just under ten minutes left in the quarter, but Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 28-13 the rest of the third and led by as many as seven. Garland again was big time as he had 11 points in the quarter. The Cavs outscored Brooklyn 34-21 in the third and took an 88-83 lead into the fourth.

Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 69-49 in the second and third quarters.

The Not So Great for the Cavs:

First Quarter: Cleveland did not get the start they wanted. Brooklyn shot 57% from the field, including 4/8 from deep. On the other hand, Cleveland shot 40% from the floor, including 0/7 from downtown. The Cavs had issues stopping Durant, who had 16 points in the quarter. Brooklyn took their largest lead of the game at 34-17 and led 34-19 after one. 

Second Chance Points: Brooklyn is a great offensive team. They are tough to stop, but they become even harder to control when you give them second and third chances. The Nets outrebounded the Cavs 45-31, and Brooklyn had 25-second chance points Friday night, which is a lot. Rebounding is a big part of defense, and Cleveland had difficulty closing the possessions with a rebound. 

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland had all the momentum going into the fourth, but the Nets have firepower for days, and it’s hard to keep them from scoring. Brooklyn went on a 10-4 run to start the fourth to take the lead for good. The Nets led by as many as 15 points in the fourth. The Cavs appeared to run out of gas in the fourth as the Nets outscored them 35-19 in the quarter.

The first 3:09 of the Fourth: You hate to be critical of anybody in this one, but Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff may have made a mistake by resting Garland early in the fourth. Garland was rolling, and so was the team while he was on the court. He did play the whole second and third quarters; however, Garland did get rest at halftime and before the start of the fourth. The Cavs should have ridden its young star to the end. Brooklyn took the lead back while Garland was on the bench and never relinquished it.

Bottom Line:

Cleveland battled in this one, and they played their hearts out, but Brooklyn is Brooklyn, so winning this game would be tough. The Cavs have to start better to beat a team of Brooklyn’s caliber.

Fortunately, the eighth-seeded Cavs got a little help as the Hawks fell to the Heat, which allowed Cleveland to hold the eighth seed and keep the eighth seed if they beat the Bucks in the season finale. The Cavs can still get the seventh seed, but they need to win and Brooklyn to lose to the Pacers at home, which is highly unlikely.

So, Cleveland could be returning to Brooklyn next Tuesday for the 7-8 game in the Play-In Tournament. 

However, unfortunately, Cleveland could fall to the 10th seed if they lose to the Bucks, and Charlotte(Wizards), Atlanta(@Rockets), and Brooklyn(Pacers) win their final game, which would be disastrous.

Getting the eighth seed won’t be easy for Cleveland as the Bucks are still fighting for the second seed in the East, so Sunday’s game should be very interesting.

Remember, the seventh and eighth seeds have two games to win one, while the ninth and tenth seeded teams have to win twice to make the playoffs.

Quotes:

“I’m proud of the way they played and proud of the effort that they played with, the way they kept coming back and staying in the game,” Bickerstaff said after the game.

What’s Next:

The Cavs return home to battle the Bucks in the regular-season finale.

 Best of the Rest:

-Lauri Markkanen had 17 points; Caris LeVert added 16, and Kevin Love had 10 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

-Andre Drummond had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds for Brooklyn.

-Cavs shot 8/27 from three-point range.

Listen below as the Garland and Drummond react to loss to Brooklyn:

76ers’ Harden on loss to Nets: ‘We got our a** kicked’

With Ben Simmons getting booed as he watched in street clothes, the Brooklyn Nets went into Philly Thursday night and beat up and beat down the 76ers 129-100 at Wells Fargo Center.

This was Philly’s(40-25) most lopsided loss of the season.

Brooklyn(34-33) led from start to finish and led by as many as 36 points. Kevin Durant paced the Nets with 25 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists, former Sixer Seth Curry had 24 points, and Kyrie Irving added 22.

The Nets shot 56% from the floor and made 18 threes.

There was a playoff environment in Philly with Simmons, who was traded to Brooklyn along with Andre Drummond, and Curry for James Harden, in town for the first time since the trade. 

However, the Nets took the fans out of the game early with their dominant play as they led by 17 points after one quarter and 21 points at the break.

“It was a good environment to start, but it didn’t finish that way,” Durant said after the game. “So, it didn’t feel like that when we left off the court, it felt like a regular game like I’ve been saying, but I like how we approached the game. I like how we played with physicality and didn’t let any of that stuff affect what we wanted to do; we just stayed focused on us so the crowd, no matter who we played tonight, I felt like we were locked in.”

Irving added: “It was lovely. I enjoyed it. I hope everybody at home enjoyed it – people here. Like I said, it’s great for our league when you can build up that many emotions before a night like tonight. You know there’s going to be one victor, and you want to be on that other end, so I feel like we committed ourselves to playing aggressive defense and just making it tough on them.

On the other side, Philly struggled with making shots(32% FG). Joel Embiid(5/17 FG, 27 points, and 12 rebounds) and James Harden(3/17 FG, 11 points) combined for 8/34 from the field.

“Just missed shots,” Harden said. “I think I just missed shots. There’s no excuses. I’ve gotta be better individually. Some turnovers were just careless. Individually, I’ve gotta be better. As a team, we watch film to see where can we be better. And we just try to continue to improve. This is only our sixth game together as a unit. I’m still trying to figure things out. But, tonight was good for us; we got our a** kicked.”

According to 76ers head coach Doc Rivers, the Nets just played harder.

“I just thought they played harder. They were more aggressive,” Rivers said. “They played in our airspace all night. I thought they were the more physical team all night. I didn’t think we played together tonight. I thought it was one of those games…a great example of a team that hasn’t been together.”

This was a statement game for the Nets, but it might have just been one of them games for Philadelphia. 

Simmons and the Nets get to laugh tonight; however, there’s still a lot of basketball left to be played.

Embiid, Harris react to the acquisition of James Harden

On Thursday, the 76ers sent Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, Ben Simmons, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-round pick to Brooklyn in exchange for James Harden and Paul Millsap.

Harden will not play this weekend for the 76ers, and there is no word on when he will be available for Philadelphia.

Following their 100-87 victory over the Thunder Friday night, Joel Embiid, who had 25 points, 19 rebounds, four assists, and five blocks, talked Harden.

“It’s James Harden,” Embiid said. “First of all, sucks to lose some of my teammates, Seth [Curry] did such a great job for us the year-and-a-half he was here; Drum [Andre Drummond] was as good as any backups that we’ve had in Philly since I’ve been here. So, you know, it sucks to lose him, but you know it’s James Harden, and he is one of the best players in the league, MVP. I don’t know. I am pretty excited; you add someone like that, your chances to win a championship get even bigger, so I’m just excited to get on with it and try to figure out how to put it all together as a team and go from there…

Yeah, I talked to him, just a lot of excitement, you know, just excited. You talk about guys that I’ve played with [and] he’s probably going to be the best yet from what he has accomplished in his career so far, so it’s just about getting everybody the same page and finding how everybody plays, but we already have a system in place, and we’ve just gotta bring him along and try to get comfortable. It’s a bunch of new stuff, but a bunch of new stuff that he’s good at and then just put it all together.”

Tobias Harris, who also had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, reacted to the acquisition of Harden and Millsap.

The addition of James [Harden] is going to be huge for us, just how dynamic he is as a player, playmaker; his ability to score the basketball just putting a presence out there on the floor at the point guard position is going to be big for us, so the whole team is just excited to get him in here,” Harris said. “Paul Millsap, as well, will be a leader for our group as well, so we are excited to see how this thing comes together.”

If the 76ers want to win a title, Embiid believes the will players have to do everything in their power to make it happen.

“We’ve all gotta give up ourselves if we want to win,” Embiid said. “As you look the teams that have won in the past, whether you look at the Golden State teams. Even the Lakers or Milwaukee last year, they just move the ball. They play with each other. As I’ve been watching James [Harden], you put him in the pick and roll, and he’s probably up there as far as the best playmakers out of that pick and roll, so obviously you’ve got to add that even more to our offense because that’s what he’s good at. But like I said, we’ve all got to give up ourselves. I gotta become more of a, whether it’s a pick and roll player or pick and pop. Just to help my teammates to help him. Just like himself, he has to become off the dribble, three point shooter. But I get doubled a lot, so to be able to go against those double teams, you’ve got to be able to fire up threes off the catch, which is something he’s gonna have to do. But, it’s a work in progress. He’s my teammate. 

‘Like I always push them to let it fly because I know that if we take those, and we make them, it’s gonna make other teams stop doubling me. It just opens up everything. So I think it’s all about everyone has to give up themselves to bring it all together. The focus is everybody’s on the same page about winning. It’s all about winning the championship. It doesn’t matter if I go out there and score 40 and someone scores 10. Or if someone else scores 40 and I score 10 or 20 points. It doesn’t matter as long as we get the win. And as long as everybody understands, that’s good. When you’ve got a team on the same page, that’s driven by winning a championship.”

it’s championship or bust for Philadelphia this season, and hopefully for them, Harden can be the missing piece.

Simmons heads to Brooklyn in swap for Harden

What the 76ers would do with Ben Simmons was the talk of the NBA. Simmons, who requested a trade and did not play a game with the Philadelphia 76ers this season, was finally dealt Thursday before the NBA trade deadline, and it appears 76ers GM Daryl Morey got his man. 

Philadelphia sent Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, a 2022 first-round pick, and a 2027 first-round pick to Brooklyn for James Harden and Paul Millsap. The 25-year-old Simmons could reportedly join the Nets in Miami as the team is currently on a two-game road trip.

Back to the trade, the 2027 first-round pick is protected for selections 1-8. Should it not convey in 2027, it becomes a 2028 first-round pick, protected selections 1-8. If the pick does not convey in the first round of the 2028 NBA Draft, it becomes a 2028 second-round pick and cash consideration. 

“James Harden is one of the truly elite players in the league. His career has been defined by incredible personal achievement, including honors as NBA MVP and three-time NBA scoring champion,” Philadelphia 76ers Managing Partner Josh Harris said. 

This season, Harden is averaging 22.5 points, 8.0 rebounds and 10.2 assists (second in the NBA) in 37.0 minutes per contest across 44 games (all starts), making him the only player this season with such averages.

This will go down as a deal where both teams will benefit. Philadelphia needed a guy that can score off the dribble at an elite level, and the 32-year-old Harden is that guy, while Brooklyn needed an elite defender, and they got that and a lot more with Simmons.

Philadelphia must go for it now with the uncertainty with Joel Embiid’s health.

It was not supposed to end this way for Simmons in Philly. The number one pick in the 2016 NBA Draft became a three-time All-Star with the 76ers, and he and Embiid were supposed to bring a title to Philly, but quite frankly, it was never a perfect fit on the court.

Unfortunately, in Game 7 against the Hawks in the playoffs, Simmons passed up a dunk, and at that point, his time in Philadelphia was pretty much up. 

We’ll see how much time it takes for Simmons to get back on the court. Remember, he has not played a game this season, so it might take time for him to get right. Brooklyn is scheduled to play the 76ers in Philly on March 10. Will Simmons be prepared in a month? Who knows, but it would be fun if it were to happen. 

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on win over Nets: ‘It’s a signature win for us against a high-level team’

The Cleveland Cavaliers returned home Monday to face the Brooklyn Nets on MLK Day after an impressive 5-1 road trip. The Cavs came into this game on a four-game winning streak and playing maybe their best ball of the season.

Brooklyn was without the league’s leader scorer, Kevin Durant(knee), who they could have used down the stretch.  Behind Darius Garland’s 22 points and 12 assists, Cleveland held on to defeat Brooklyn 114-107 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

With the win, Cleveland(27-18) has won five straight and six out of their last seven, while Brooklyn(27-16) has lost two of their last three. 

Here is the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ big win over Brooklyn.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-During the game, it was announced that Darius Garland was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, and on Monday, he started this week the right way. Garland had 22 points, six rebounds, and 12 assists. With just over three minutes left in the fourth and the game tied at 105, Garland assisted on a Lauri Markkanen three, and later, an Evan Mobley dunk that gave Cleveland a 110-105 lead with just over a minute left to go. He made all the right moves for the Cavaliers against Brooklyn.

-Jarrett Allen had his third consecutive double-double with 14 points(6/6 FG) and 10 rebounds. He also had two big blocks. This was Allen’s fourth double-double in five games.

-Isaac Okoro returned to the starting lineup and was good on both ends of the court. Okoro had 15 points and two steals. In the fourth, the second-year guard did a great job on Kyrie Irving and helped limit the former Cavalier to four points on 2/7 shooting from the field. In addition, he put an exclamation point on the game when he stole an errant James Harden pass and finished it off with a jam to give Cleveland a 112-107 lead with 15.8 seconds to go.

-Lauri Markkanen had 14 points, including 4/9 from deep and six rebounds. Markkanen had made some big shots on the Cavs’ six-game road trip, and that continued Monday when he made a big three to give the Cavs the lead for good in the fourth.

-Fourth Quarter: Cleveland trailed 88-87 after three quarters. However, in the fourth, the Cavaliers took control of the game. Cleveland stepped up defensively as they held Brooklyn to 30% shooting, including 0/4 from downtown. 

In addition, the Cavs shot 57% from the floor and made play after play down the stretch to get the win. Cleveland outscored Brooklyn 27-19 in the fourth.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Great win for the Cavs. We could find some bad, but not on this day.

Bottom Line:

Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff called this victory a “signature win” for Cleveland, and while this was a big win, a signature win might be a stretch because Brooklyn was without their best player in Kevin Durant. However, again, this was a big win.

If we look at the Eastern Conference standings, we see the Cavs slowly working their way up. At this point, Cleveland(fourth seed) is 1.5 games behind the Bulls(27-15) for the best record in the East, and they play the Bulls on Wednesday, so they could get even closer with a win. 

“It’s a signature win for us against a high-level team,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame. “Obviously with reasons why and excuses coming back off that long road trip and all those things, playing against two of the most elite players in our league, and our guys figuring out a way.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland heads back on the road to battle the Bulls in Chicago Wednesday night.

Best of the Rest:

-Kyrie Irving led the Nets with 27 points to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists. James Harden had 22 points, seven rebounds, and 10 assists. Brooklyn had six players in double figures, including all five starters.

-Kevin Love had 14 points, five rebounds, and five assists off the bench, and rookie Evan Mobley had 12 points and six rebounds. It was the 12th straight game in double figures for Mobley.

Cleveland also had six players in double figures, and like Brooklyn, all five starters scored in double figures.

Lamar Stevens(knee) and Rajon Rondo(hamstring) missed Monday’s action.

Watch below as Garland and Okoro react to big win over Nets:

 

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’ Love on loss to Nets: ‘There was so much we did better in the second half’

The Brooklyn Nets are one of the best teams in basketball, so even with a healthy roster, the Cavs would have a hard time beating them at Barclays Center. 

Cleveland, who were without four of their five starters(Collin Sexton, Jarrett Allen, Lauri Markkanen, and Evan Mobley), trailed by as many as 23 points before trimming the lead to seven in the fourth. However, they would fall short and lose to the Nets(11-5) 109-99 on Wednesday night.

The Cavaliers(9-7) have now lost two straight.

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

The Great for the Cavaliers:

Cavs’ Backcourt: Ricky Rubio(25 points, five assists, and four rebounds) and Darius Garland(24 points, six assists, and five rebounds) combined for 49 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds on Wednesday. These two scored half of Cleveland’s points against Brooklyn, but it wasn’t enough.

Second-Half Garland: Garland was sizzling in the second half. He scored 20 points in the second half, including 13 points in the fourth. He finished the half 8/14 from the field, including 3/7 from downtown. After struggling early, the third-year guard kept on shooting, and the shots started to fall. Garland ended the game 10/26 from the floor.

Third Quarter: Cleveland trailed 62-41 at halftime. However, they finally woke up in the third. The Cavs outscored the Nets 32-19 in the quarter, and Garland and Rubio had seven points apiece. Ultimately, the Cavs got within striking distance as they trailed 81-73 after three. 

“There was so much we did better in the second half (and) really started to make (the Nets) feel us,” Kevin Love said postgame.

Love is in the Air: Love returned after missing eight games due to his bout with COVID-19. He was solid on Wednesday as he had 11 points and nine rebounds off the bench.

“The first four or five days were pretty tough,” Love said. “All the usual symptoms that I think people might get. Crazy muscle aches, sensitive skin, can’t smell, taste, muscle spasms, fatigue. Then just chest and head got hit pretty tough as well. Definitely don’t wish that on anybody.”

The Not so Great for the Cavaliers:

First Half:  In the first half, the Cavaliers were ice-cold as they shot 33.3% from the field, including 4/24 from three-point range. Brooklyn was moving the ball in that half as they had 17 assists on 20 made field goals. 

First Half Garland:  Garland shot 2/12 from the field, including 0/4 from downtown, and finished with four points, two assists, and two turnovers. He struggled, but as we all know, he turned it around in the second half.

Bottom Line:

We all knew Cleveland would have to play out of their mind to beat Brooklyn, and they still might have lost. This would be a tough stretch for the Cavaliers with all their players, but it becomes even more difficult without their key players. After the Warriors, who have the best record in basketball, they have the Nets again on Monday and the Suns on Wednesday before ending their homestand on Saturday against the Magic.

What’s Next:

On Thursday night, the Cavs return home to start a four-game homestand against the Warriors.

Best of the Rest:

Brooklyn had four players score 20 points or more on Wednesday night led by James Harden’s 27 points; LaMarcus Aldridge added 24 points off the bench, Kevin Durant had 23 points, and Patty Mills chipped in with 21 (six threes).

Ed Davis got his first start of season for Cleveland. He was effective in 24 minutes and finished with six points and a game-high 11 rebounds.

Listen below as Love and Garland react to Cleveland’s loss to Brooklyn:

Ex-NBA player Shawn Bradley paralyzed after bike accident

Former NBA player Shawn Bradley announced via the Dallas Mavericks that he is paralyzed. The 48-year-old Bradley, who spent 14 seasons in the NBA with the 76ers, Nets, and Mavericks, was recently involved in a bike accident.

Below is a statement from Bradley via the Dallas Mavericks:

“Shawn Bradley released the first public details today of the accident that he suffered on January 20, 2021. Bradley, the 7’6” former NBA player with the Dallas Mavericks, was struck from behind by an automobile while riding his bicycle a mere block from his home in St. George, Utah. The accident caused a traumatic spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed. After undergoing neck fusion surgery, Bradley has spent the last eight weeks hospitalized and undergoing rehabilitation. 

Bradley, a devout member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spent two years performing missionary work in Australia after his freshman year at Brigham Young University. Following his mission, Bradley was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers as the number two pick in the 1993 NBA Draft, but he spent the majority of his career with the Dallas Mavericks. His very strong sense of faith is being tested as he participates in grueling physical therapy and learns how to cope with the challenges of paraplegia. Doctors have advised him that his road to recovery will be both long and arduous, perhaps an even more difficult physical challenge than playing professional basketball.

With his wife Carrie at his side around the clock, and supported by an amazing team of rehabilitation specialists and family, Bradley is in good spirits. He plans to use his accident as a platform to bring greater public awareness to the importance of bicycle safety.

Bradley asked to convey his deep appreciation for the outpouring of well wishes and prayers he has received from family, friends and fans. Their support has energized his recovery and bolstered his confidence that he will manage the long process ahead successfully. He does not plan to issue further public updates, preferring to devote his full concentration on his rehabilitation.”

Mavericks owner Mark Cuban:

“We are saddened to hear of Shawn’s accident. Shawn has always been incredibly determined and shown a fighting spirit. We wish him nothing but the best in his recovery. He will always be a part of our Mavs family.”

Mavericks GM Donnie Nelson:

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Shawn’s injury and our thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family. In his eight-plus seasons in Dallas, Shawn demonstrated all of the qualities you want in a person representing your organization. He has always exhibited unwavering grit and determination and we are thinking of him at this difficult time. He is a Maverick for life.”

Cavs’ Bickerstaff on Sexton: ‘There’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight’

He’s back and better than ever! After missing five games due to a sprained ankle, Cavaliers G Collin Sexton returned on Wednesday night against the star-studded Brooklyn Nets, who had their Big 3 of James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving together for the first time.

However, Sexton was the biggest star on Wednesday night. The third-year guard scored 20 straight points, including 15 points in the second overtime and finished with a career-high 42 points as the Cavaliers(7-7) defeated the Nets(9-7) at home 147-135 in double overtime. 

Sexton out-dueled Irving last night, who returned after missing seven games and scored 37 points for Brooklyn. Sexton took over the game in OT, and according to his head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, not many players in the NBA could have done what Sexton did against Brooklyn. 

“Collin(Sexton) has proven time and time again against all his doubters is he’s not afraid of the big moments,” Bickerstaff said. “He likes pressure-filled moments. Not everybody in our league has the courage to do what he did tonight. Not everyone in our league have the ability to do what he did tonight… 

“Collin Sexton brought us home tonight, and again, people can say what they want to say about him, but there’s a small group of guys in this league that can do what he did tonight.”

Cavs’ Cedi Osman, who scored 25 points on Wednesday night, added this about Sexton: “That was a hell of an effort, man. He had 20 straight points. He played great; he played out of his mind. It was amazing. I don’t know what to say.” 

Even Irving enjoyed what he saw from Sexton.

“You gotta love NBA ball, though,” he said. “I was smiling when Collin Sexton was making those shots.”

Irving and Sexton will forever be linked. The former Cavalier was traded to Boston in 2017. In that deal, Cleveland was able to secure a first round pick, which turned into Sexton. After the game, Sexton acknowledged his connection to Irving.

“I am in Cleveland,” he said. “I wear number 2, and I do wear Kyrie’s(sneakers), so you know that’s definitely going to be linked together, so I just gotta take it.”

Sexton was terrific last night, and before the injury, was playing at a high level. What he is doing thus far this season is not a surprise. However, the way Cleveland is playing this season, especially when you consider the injuries, is impressive. Once they get fully healthy(Darius Garland and Kevin Love), they could be a team in the mix for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.