Positive: Competitive basketball
This is now two nights in a row where the Cavs battled and were in games until the end. While both opponents likely were playing down to the level of their competition to some extent, it’s still good experience to try and execute during meaningful possessions.
Beyond the benefits that come from playing meaningful basketball, it’s also just a better experience for fans. Going from a tight loss to the Rockets, to pulling out an unlikely win over the Spurs was a much needed sigh of fresh air. Especially when you compare it to the forty point blowouts of last week.
Positive: Kevin Love shows signs of life
Someone must have read that teams are asking for a first to take on his contract. If Kevin Love no longer wants to play in Cleveland, he’s going to have to play like a desirable player.
While he’s still here, performances like tonight help make everybody else look better. When Love is lifeless, it asks too much of players not equipped to shoulder the load he typically carries.
Frustration over the state of the team lately is understandable. But with just two games left before the schedule lightens up, it’s possible that the worst stretch of this season is in the rear view mirror.
Negative: No crunch time minutes for Garland
This is the second game in a row where Beilien elected to go with both Sexton and Clarkson to close out the game. With Garland playing fairly well in both outings, it’s a little disappointing to see him not get a chance to make a difference at the end of games.
Even if he makes mistakes, those mistakes can be valuable opportunities to learn and adjust. This is now the second game in a row where Clarkson has made final minute costly turnovers. We know that Clarkson isn’t going to learn and adjust his decision making process. So why not give those reps to Garland in a season that’s all about developing the core?
The decision to bench Thompson, likely over his outburst, likely impacted the team’s chances to win the game. So it’s not like the decisions are solely about giving the team the best chance to win.
Maybe this is all an effort to showcase Clarkson to other teams. But at this point it seems as though teams likely know what they’re getting from all of the Cavs vets. Seeing the young core prioritized more would be a welcomed change.