There wasn’t a lot of drama in this game, and in the first half, there weren’t many positives either. A week removed from taking the 76ers down to the wire on the road, the Cavs were largely a no-show in the rematch. Sunday afternoon games always involve a small struggle to get a team’s energy level up, and the Sixers seemed determined to put this one away early. In the first quarter the Cavs starters held their own, but once a couple reserves started cycling in things got bad in a hurry. The starters weren’t able to make things competitive again.
The Philadelphia 76ers, 114. Your Cleveland Cavaliers, 95.
Negative: A difficult game for the Cavs young guards
Darius Garland and Collin Sexton combined for 28 points on 30 shots, three assists, and three turnovers. Too often Tristan Thompson found himself with the ball in spots far away from the basket with little time left on the shot clock. If we want to add Kevin Porter Jr. to the mix, he finished with two points on six shots. Obviously you’re looking for a bit more from your young players, even it’s a bit unfair to expect it.
It’s worth noting Sexton was somehow a +5 in his 28 minutes, a testament to the Cavs putting together a good string on minutes to start the fourth quarter. His energy level is rarely a problem. Garland, though, is still looking a bit overwhelmed. It’s fair to want him to shoot more, but if he’s not finding his spots you don’t want him forcing it either.
Negative: Whether it’s the guards or whatever, Kevin Love needs to be more involved
I have no idea if Kevin Love is happy or content, but he needs more than eight shots on this team. He’s the team’s best offensive player and even in a guard-dominated league, he needs the ball to shoot it and facilitate. He got a little banged up in this game, so we’ll see if he’s healthy moving forward, but he played 25 minutes and needs more opportunities. He has a history of scoring efficiency on healthy usage, something no other Cleveland Cavalier can claim.
At this point we’ve had years of wanting Love to get more touches, so I’m not holding my breath. John Beilein should be in his young player’s ears, though.
Negative: The Cavs bench without Larry Nance Jr. is a problem
Ante Zizic got his first minutes of the season and it didn’t go so hot. Matthew Dellavedova got some early minutes off the bench and it didn’t go so hot. The next time his spot in the rotation came up, Brandon Knight got his minutes. The coach doesn’t seem to know who to go to and it’s hard to blame him. Kevin Porter Jr. is still missing wide open threes - again, it’s fine - but it doesn’t make it any easier to put a lineup around him. Jordan Clarkson put together a good game, but he needs help.
All of it adds up to a tough game, and perhaps a rough stretch of upcoming ones.