Two positives and one negative for the Cavs’ loss to the Celtics on Tuesday night.
POSITIVE: Collin Sexton was awesome
It’s been a rough stretch for Collin Sexton. He hasn’t shot 50 percent for better from the field since Jan. 13. He’s had issues shooting at the rim, often flailing instead of going up strong. And when that’s happened, he just wasn’t effective.
Sexton didn’t shoot 50 percent from the field against the Celtics. But he was better at the rim and inside, thriving instead of struggling. His shot chart form Tuesday’s game is exactly the type of shot distribution the Cavs should want from him:
This performance also came against a team that bottled up Sexton not so long ago. This was the type of drive he didn’t succeed in making last time, or at all recently:
The next step is stringing a few of these performances together — then Sexton will be getting somewhere.
NEGATIVE: A classic inept defensive possession
Whoever is the next Cavs head coach, regardless of the roster makeup, has to get the Cavs improvement at some basic defensive tendencies. This was a winnable game for the Cavs, and they cost themselves a chance at winning because they did not mark cutters well. The result was a lot of wide-open baskets like this:
This is a staple of the Cavs’ defense this year. Frankly, it’s been a regular season staple for this team the last few years too. And it has to change at some point if Cleveland wants to be a respectable team without LeBron James.
POSITIVE: Larry Nance Jr. was the best version of himself
Larry Nance Jr. looks like he’s gotten all the way back from his most recent injury. He’s bouncy again, moving well and playing like the fluid, rim-running athlete he is when healthy. And on Tuesday, the best version of that player showed up.
Against Boston, in 29 minutes, Nance did everything the Cavs want him too. He shot 5-8 from the field, finishing with 11 points. He made a three-pointer too — something he hadn’t done since last year. And this finish vs. Al Horford is a nice little wrinkle to his game that hasn’t always been there:
He also finished with 12 rebounds — five on the offensive end, seven on defense — and had two assists. Moving forward, if he can keep playing like this, it’ll make him a little different than both Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. And it’ll give the Cavs a position group of strength to build with, at least in theory.