Let’s be real. This recent Cavs run has come against poor competition. They’re 5-5 in their last 10 games, and they’ve taken advantage of games with the Bulls, Knicks, Suns, and Wizards. I don’t bring it up to diminish these wins, but to give them some context. In fact, for most of the season it hasn’t mattered who the Cavs played. They came into tonight’s game with the Grizzlies with the league’s worst net rating, having been outscored by 10.6 points per 100 possessions.
The Cavs are starting to beat some bad teams. When you’ve been the worst team, that’s improvement. We’ll take it.
POSITIVE: Kevin Love, again
Love is still operating on a minutes restriction, but man, is he playing like a star. In 26 minutes, Lovec scored 32 points on 15 shots, had a team-best plus/minus of +14 and pulled down 12 rebounds. Those are elite numbers, and reminiscent of why a lot of people thought he was a top-five NBA player in the 2013-14 NBA season. He’s made the Cavs an entirely different team. Collin Sexton was a positive in this game, and we’ll discuss it, but there was a possession in the third quarter where he ran the pick and roll with Love. Both defenders stayed with Sexton, who proceeded to dribble into a third defender at the rim while Love stood open at the three point line.
Sexton didn’t make the right read, but if they do back and watch that film, he’ll see what the right read was. Love gives him a real option, a correct option. That should help him grow. In the meantime, the Cavs just get more shooting, and Love was on fire from three point range. It’s great having him back, and it seems like he’s going to enjoy working with this group.
POSITIVE: Cedi Osman, Collin Sexton and Ante Zizic all did good things
Late in the game, with the Cavs up by three, Sexton reset the offense to take more time off the clock. He lulled his man to sleep with the dribble before pulling up from three point range. He buried it. I was going to be happy even if he missed, because it wasn’t the midrange shot he would have taken earlier in the season. It came close to putting the game on ice, and felt like a nice step forward for him. Twenty points on 16 shots is another small step forward in efficiency, as well.
Cedi Osman said after the game he thought the team played bad and he had trouble getting a rhythm, but he buried a huge three pointer late and then threw down a monstrous dunk off a pass from Sexton. His mindset could not be healthier, and his comments about the team needing to win when playing bad showed some maturity.
For Zizic, he just keeps being pretty helpful. 18 points on seven shots, and the Cavs outscored the Grizzlies by 10 points in his 30 minutes. It’s hard to see him ever getting these kind of minutes on a good team, but he looks like a real player to me. He uses his size pretty well on both ends of the floor and doesn’t need to post up to score.
POSITIVE: Matthew Dellavedova and David Nwaba stabilized a rough bench unit
Yeah, you know, the team won and everyone’s happy so forget having a negative. Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. were a bit off for most of this one, and Delly and Nwaba worked hard to keep things close. Really, the Cavs got just enough from Sexton and Cedi at the end of the game in some non-Love minutes. But Delly’s hand simply keeping Clarkson from hijacking things, and Nwaba’s energy defensively made a big impact. They deserve credit in this win.