The Cavs put together a solid week of basketball as they were able to defeat the Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards in back-to-back games before falling to the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night. There were some positives to take away from this stretch of decent play, but not everything that happened on the court was good.
Here’s what we learned from the Cavs this week.
Cedi Osman’s outside shot is the key to his offensive game
Osman is in the midst of his best offensive stretch this season. He is averaging 21.4 points per game in his last five games with an effective field goal percentage of 65.1. The key to this offensive breakthrough is his outside shot which has been very inconsistent throughout the season. During this run, he’s been shooting 45.5 percent from beyond the arc on 6.6 attempts per game.
Osman has been confidently attacking the basket since the start of January and he’s shooting 62.5 percent from within five feet in that time. His recent hot shooting has allowed him to the rim much more easily because teams have been forced to contest his outside shots.
For example in this play, Trevor Ariza was forced to closeout and prevent the outside shot. Osman did a good job of recognizing that and getting to the restricted area before being contested:
Osman offensive game opens up entirely when he’s able to shoot well from the outside. Shooting 45.5 percent from three is unsustainable. However, getting his outside shot to a respectable level will allow him to get easier drives to the basket like the one shown above. Having the gravity of a good three-point shooter is what Osman needs to become a more consistent offensive player.
Jordan Clarkson continues to spark the offense
Clarkson doesn’t always have the most aesthetically pleasing offensive game and therefore doesn’t get the recognition he probably deserves. His scoring played a big part in the Cavs two wins this week as Clarkson averaged 21.7 points per game with an effective field goal percentage of 69 and 3.3 assists per game this week.
The Cavs’ halfcourt offense has been awful this season. Clarkson is one of the few players who can actually spark the offense with his shot making ability. You may not like Clarkson’s brand of isolation basketball, but it can be extremely efficient when he catches fire like he did this week.
Osman is incorporating post-ups on offense
Osman is beginning to look like a much more polished offensive player the last couple weeks. Post-ups have never been apart of Osman’s game as he’s averaging 0.3 post up shot attempts per game on the season. That’s beginning to change as Osman has attempted at least one post up shot in the last three games and has converted on his last three attempts. All of these attempts have come after a smaller guard has been switched onto him.
Here, Osman uses his size to bully Washington’s 6’2” guard Chasson Randle. Osman does an excellent job of seeing and spinning away of Ian Mahinmi’s help defense:
Osman again showed nice footwork in the post against Mavericks’ point guard Jalen Brunson after he was switched onto him:
One of the encouraging things we’ve seen from Osman this year is his ability to add new shots to his arsenal that he’s not afraid to use in game. Posting up isn’t going to become a staple of Osman’s game, but it’s certainly something he can use to get an easy bucket when the opportunity presents itself. We’ll see if this is something he continues to incorporate into his game moving forward.
Injuries continue to plague the Cavs
The Cavs were playing some of their best basketball this last week and it looked like they could be turning a corner. David Nwaba and Larry Nance Jr. recently returned to the lineup and it appears that Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson could be making their returns soon too. Unfortunately, not many things have gone the Cleveland’s way this season as Osman left Saturday’s game with an ankle injury.
It’d be nice to see the Cavs play a few games this year with their full roster. With the flattened lottery odds there’s not an incentive to finish last and it would be nice to see how Osman and Collin Sexton would play this year alongside a full roster. Hopefully we’ll be able to see a completely healthy roster together on the other side of the All-Star break.
It was another rough week for Collin Sexton.
The lack of a healthy roster has made it difficult to fairly judge Sexton. He’s played most of the year alongside a mismatch group of talent and any young point guard would struggle in that position. However, this week was worse than most.
Sexton played arguably his worst game as a pro on Saturday night against Dallas. He finished the game shooting 4-17 from the field and didn’t look confident in anything he was doing offensively. He wasn’t that much better on the week, as he averaged 10.7 points on 27.5 percent shooting with 2.3 assists per game.
The Athletic has reported that that the Cavs’ front office has already given up on the idea of Sexton being a starting point guard in the league. While his on-court play has been poor, it’s also hard to say definitively that’s the case. He’s played with a bad and injured roster that has been coached by a staff that doesn’t have any motivation to be there. Playing point guard is tough enough, throwing those external factors in there makes any evaluation of him tough.
What can’t be debated is that he’s looked pretty bad recently. We’ll see how he benefits from playing with Thompson and Love.