The Cavs are on a winning streak after beating the 76ers 108-94 on Wednesday night in Cleveland and overall have won four of their last five dating back to before the All-Star break. Considering this is on the heels of a six-game losing streak and a streak where they lose 13 of 14 games. This may be the best stretch of the season so far.
Collin Sexton played poised basketball
Collin Sexton was off the floor on Monday when the Cavs came back on Monday against the Heat and had no real impact on that game’s outcome. On Wednesday, he might have been the team’s most impactful player.
This was about as poised as Sexton has played all year and he was often the guy initiating the offense and creating a shot when the team needed someone to do it. Notably, he also went to the line a team-high nine times — making eight — en route to a team-high 28 points. For the year, Sexton has quietly become a more efficient scorer as a result of his foul drawing.
This is the kind of game where you look at his output and become more encouraged about his role as a scorer where this athleticism becomes functional. Plus, he was good on defense for the most part. This is the template for him going forward.
Winning without a big Kevin Love night
A small thing, but the Cavs won a game against a good team (albeit not a full-strength) where their best player shot 3-9 from the field and didn’t make a shot inside the arc. That was because of Sexton, but also because of a big night from Larry Nance Jr., Matthew Dellavedova playing his best game of the season with Dante Exum out and Kevin Porter Jr. and Darius Garland contributing in their own ways. Winning a game like this is a nice little development.
In praise of J.B. Bickerstaff
Bickerstaff is not a particularly inventive coach, for better or worse. His ATOs are not going to be clipped and shared on Twitter and his defensive schemes are not going to change the way defensive is played.
And you know what? That’s fine. Right now, the team is playing hard for him — certainly harder than it did under John Beilein. Bickerstaff has also simplified things on the defense end to limit mistakes and now has bigs dropping on every pick and roll while perimeter defenders track shooters and work to avoid giving up any wide, wide open looks. He’s also riding lineups that work — hence him going back to the Nance-Love-Thompson frontcourt after it killed against the Heat on Monday.
These are not flashy adjustments. But they are making the Cavs more competent.
The Cavs head to New Orleans on Friday to play Zion Williams and the Pelicans. Tipoff is at 8 p.m.