Two negatives and a positive for the Cavs’ 111-98 loss to the Mavericks on Saturday.
Negative: Cedi Osman’s injury
Cedi Osman was again playing well before he suffered a right ankle injury with 9:06 to play in the second quarter. And at first, the injury didn’t seem serious. During the timeout immediately after the injury, he walked around before going back into the game.
But less than a minute later, with 8:21 to play, he checked out and went back to the locker room. In the third quarter, the team would announce that he was done for the night with a right ankle injury.
Osman’s injury is disappointing. It isn’t known how long he’ll be out or how serious the injury is. But considering how good Osman how been of late, and how much more comfortable he’s looked being is assertive and at times leading the offense, any time missed by Osman is a letdown. And for a Cavs team that just got Nwaba back - and should get Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson back soon - another injury to another key player is deflating. There’s no way around it.
Positive: David Nwaba is back
Pregame, Cavs head coach Larry Drew tempered expectations for David Nwaba, who returned after missing 18 games with an ankle injury. But maybe he shouldn’t have.
In his return, Nwaba made the type of impact he had been before the injury. He rotated well on defense, constantly acting as the most aware defender on the floor. He cut well, using his strength inside to get offensive rebounds and make contested layups. He got to the line four times too, although he only made 2-4. Nwaba also had this awesome drive past Luka Doncic from the corner, finishing with a nice reverse layup:
Does he have limitations? Yes, especially on offense. But the Cavs have no one else like him and have no way to replace him when he’s out.
Nwaba only played 15 minutes on Saturday due to a minutes restriction put on him as he comes back from the injury. But as he gets his legs fully back and is ready to increase his workload, he deserves more minutes. Saturday showed that.
Negative: A rough night for Collin Sexton
The highlight of the Cavs’ night may have been the alley-oop Sexton caught from Osman in the first half. But aside from that play, it was a tough night for the Cavs’ top pick.
In 31 minutes, Sexton finished with 13 points on 4-17 shooting, often driving to the rim and flailing up a miss. On one occasion, he missed at the rim - only to rebound his own miss and miss again. Sexton also finished with just two assists. Defensively, Sexton looked like a rookie and had issues defending Jalen Brunson and Devin Harris alike.
On one play, Sexton sagged off Harris just enough to allow Harris to cut and catch as a pass as he moved towards the rim. When Harris cut, Sexton was caught off guard and reacted too late. This is the type of mistake rookies make, but it still stands out.
Watching Sexton play like this on the same night Luka Doncic came in as a rookie and was the best player on the floor probably doesn’t do Sexton any favors. His weaknesses aren’t new either - it’s clear he lacks the strength to finish effectively or draw contact inside right now. And it’s going to take time - perhaps a summer in the weight room and gym - to improve his weaknesses. But it doesn’t change that they exist right now in his rookie season.