Two positives and one negative for the Cavs’ 119-106 loss to the Wizards on Friday night in the nation’s capital.
POSITIVE: Welcome back, Kevin Love
Love only played six minutes on Friday — more of a cameo than real return to action. But it was really fun to have him back. And it doesn’t really matter that he finished 1-5 from the field and was 0-3 on three-pointers. Getting Love back on the court injected some new life into the Cavs. There were some new wrinkles in the offense just because of his presence. For example, this is the type of off-ball shooting has been non-existent with him out:
It’s fitting, too, that Love’s one bucket was a classic Love move. He drew a foul on a similar attempt earlier in the game too:
Love won’t play tomorrow in Indiana as the team looks to bring him back slowly. That’s definitely the right call. But it is really, really good for the Cavs to have him back. He can’t save the season, but he can make this team better and more interesting to watch and evaluate.
NEGATIVE: Offensive struggles
Giving up 41 first quarter points, and trailing by 14 points at the half, certainly didn’t help the Cavs, obviously. But this was a game that could have been winnable had the Cavs just shot a little better. As a team, they finished with a 37.5 percent field goal percentage and an offensive rating of 101.9 — both anemic numbers. Here’s quick rundown of Cavs players that struggled against the Wizards:
- Larry Nance Jr.: 3-15 overall and 104 on three-pointers
- Jordan Clarkson: 6-18 overall and 2-7 on three-pointers
- Matthew Dellavedova: 0-7 overall and 0-4 on three-pointers
- Deng Adel: 2-8 overall and 1-5 on three-pointers
The only three Cavs to shoot 50 percent or better from the field were Collin Sexton — more on him next — Marquese Chriss (4-8 overall) and David Nwaba (6-11 overall). Chriss, who didn’t much for the Rockets, set a season-high with 14 points in his first game with Cleveland.
Once Love is back and fully integrated, he should help the team’s offense and make it better than the league’s 26th best unit. But he won’t be able to make up for almost every other player shooting poorly.
POSITIVE: Collin Sexton’s 27 point night
Take a look at Collin Sexton’s shot chart from his 27-point performance against the Wizards for a moment:
What you see is the shot chart of a player is starting to find the better shots on the floor and diverging from his tendencies so far this season. Instead of most of his shots being mid-range jumpers, Sexton is largely getting to the rim and or taking a three-pointer. In this game, Sexton did both well — he finished 5-8 on shots at the rim and 3-7 on three-pointers as part of 10-18 overall night. Plus, Sexton got to the line four times (making all four free throws) and did a good job of driving and trying to initiate contact instead of flailing once he got inside.
Sexton did make some little mistakes in this game, particularly when the Wizards pressured him and he failed to read the defense. But as he did against the Celtics earlier this week, Sexton moved away from some of his bad habits against the Wizards. As the season heads into its final third, that’s a good sign.