This wasn’t the most exciting week for the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs lost all three of their games this week and didn’t look particularly good in any of those games besides the narrow loss in San Antonio. There are still some things to takeaway from this mostly uneventful week.
Larry Nance Jr. can initiate the offense.
Nance has taken steps forward in his playmaking and outside shooting this season. Nance led the team in assists this week with 4.3 per game while recording seven assists in Tuesday’s loss against Boston.
Nance’s vision and ability to react to what the defense does is what has helped him take the next step as a facilitator. He doesn’t have a wide range of passes in his repertoire as most of Nance’s assists come off of making simple passes. However, making simple passes based on how the defense reacts is an important skill that many on this team possess.
This play below is a perfect example of making the simple pass based on how the defense reacts. Here, Nance makes a simple bounce pass to Marquese Chriss after the defense is a half a step late in reacting to the screen.
Nance continues to show that he can be a secondary playmaker in the halfcourt. Collin Sexton has improved, but he hasn’t done much that would make you believe he can run an NBA offense next season. Not having a traditional point guard requires that you get playmaking from multiple positions. Nance is showing more and more that he is an ideal big to pair with Sexton moving forward.
Kevin Love has to be good for this team to have a chance.
The Cavs have shown flashes of being a decent team since the all-star break. They have beaten multiple playoff teams since Love’s return including the Raptors and the Bucks without Giannis Antetokounmpo. They’ve been competitive in numerous other games and when they’re at their best it’s not unrealistic to expect them to be a middle of the road team in the East next season. However, every time they’ve looked competent it was largely due to the play of Kevin Love.
This week was a perfect microcosm of how the team’s play is directly correlates to how Love plays. The Cavs kept it close against the Celtics on Tuesday, but it never felt like they actually had a chance to win the game. Love played one of his worst games of the season as he managed only 10 points and was a dreadful three for 13 from the field. Love couldn’t establish any rhythm which resulted in the offense getting stagnant in the half-court far too often.
Conversely Love had a solid game against San Antonio and the Cavs were in it all the way until the end. Cleveland had a chance to pull out the game at the end, but a wide open corner three from Patty Mills sealed their fate. Love then missed Saturday’s game in LA with a mysterious sore shoulder and the Cavs were ran out of the building.
Simply put Love needs to be great offensively for the Cavs to be competitive. It could be easy to talk yourself into this team being good next season with the progression of Sexton and the addition of the first round picks, but barring a major move this team will only go as far as Love takes them.
Jordan Clarkson continues to score off the bench.
Clarkson had another solid week off the bench as he averaged 18.0 points on 52.4 percent shooting with 3.3 assists. Clarkson’s brand of basketball isn’t appealing to everyone but it can still be effective like it was this week. His ability to create his own shot off in any situation is extremely valuable for a team that continually struggles to generate halfcourt offense.
The Cavs are really pushing to get Sexton on the All-Rookie team.
Sexton continues to show that he has the tools to be an efficient scorer as he put together another solid week. The rookie ended the week averaging 23 points on .491/.368/.909 shooting with three assists per game.
Sexton’s resurgence at the end of the season has been one of the few things to get excited about as a Cavs’ fan. He has really improved his game after correctly being left off the roster of the Rising Stars game earlier this season and deserves to be on the All-Rookie first team.
It’s common for teams to campaign for their player to be MVP. We saw earlier this week that the Bucks and Raptors both campaigned for their stars’ MVP cases. Last year we saw campaigning go to another level with the Rookie of the Year race between Ben Simmons and Donovan Mitchell which included ridiculous arguments about the definition of a rookie.
The Cavs aren’t going that far, but they are doing their best to ensure that Collin Sexton makes the All-Rookie first team. The campaign has included separate articles from Chris Fedor and Joe Vardon, a social media hashtag, a pitch from Kevin Love, and a SportsCenter interview featuring Sexton himself.
What makes this all interesting is the fact that the organization didn’t publicly campaign at all for LeBron James to win MVP either of the previous two seasons even though he had a better argument than most of the voters seemed to realize. It’s odd that the organization wouldn’t campaign at all for that, but is going all out for an honor that not many casual fans know or care about.
It’s refreshing to see that Sexton is a guy that seemingly everyone in the organization is pulling for. It’s just odd that this is what the talking points have been about for the Cavs the last week or so. Hopefully Sexton is able to get the recognition that he deserves for the improvements he’s made this season.