The Cavaliers came into their Monday night matchup with Minnesota on their only winning streak, and nearly stole a win against a Wolves team that is figuring out their new identity in the post-Jimmy Butler era. Unfortunately, they simply didn’t play well enough to win, and fell 102-95.
As it currently stands, this isn’t a team that can play anything other than their best and expect to win, and the team certainly didn’t play their best.
With David Nwaba out of the lineup, the team went back to their dueling centers lineup of Larry Nance Jr. and Tristan Thompson. The ensuing lack of spacing made things difficult in the paint for Cavs guards and wings.
Collin Sexton’s jumper went cold and he constantly struggled to finish in the paint, getting stripped or blocked on multiple possessions en route to a 5-19 night from the field. The team’s other lead guard spark plug in Jordan Clarkson had his worst night of the season, unable to make his first shot until the middle of the fourth quarter.
Cedi Osman had his struggles finishing around the rim himself and never was able to put his imprint on the game offensively. He finished with eight points on 3-12 shooting.
On nights where the young core doesn’t have it going, the team does have veterans it can turn to, and they were the ones that stepped up against the Wolves to keep it close. Kyle Korver exploded for 22 points off the bench, and Tristan Thompson scored 16 points and grabbed 11 boards while keeping the Cavaliers in the game in the first quarter.
Rodney Hood also was able to pour in 20 points of his own, and attempted seven threes in the loss. Three point attempts are really what’s worth watching with Hood — when he’s launching, the Cavaliers offense is better served.
Ultimately, these are the kinds of games that the Cavaliers would’ve lost big earlier in the season. They didn’t play particularly well and the Wolves have more talent by a mile. It’s a testament to the fight of the team and the chemistry that’s slowly beginning to gel that they were in it at all.
The Cavaliers next play Wednesday in Oklahoma City against the Thunder. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.