Kevin Love and Collin Sexton were very good, scoring efficiently and filling the stat sheet in multiple ways. Darius Garland and Kevin Porter Jr. did some nice things, hitting threes and making good reads. Cedi Osman is coming along as a guy who can do a little bit of everything, and Larry Nance Jr. is similar. The Cavs scored 127 points in regulation, in some ways looking better offensively than they had in some time.
They also lost. To win in the NBA, you have to defend on some level. The Cavs didn’t, and the Knicks beat them.
The New York Knicks, 139. Your Cleveland Cavaliers, 134.
Collin Sexton might be taking a step forward
He played 40 minutes and notched 29 points on 22 shots and added seven assists to just two turnovers. He was helped by Kevin Love hitting some shots off his passes, but perhaps that will convince him to do it more often. 22 shots is no small amount, but he seemed more judicious in this game over when to attack and when to defer. If he’s going to take that many shots, I’d want at least seven or eight of them to be three pointers. He took just five of them, making three. It’s the classic conundrum: you want him to do what’s comfortable, but you want him to take shots that get you more points.
The Cavs just didn’t defend anyone
Tristan Thompson was a late scratch due to soreness in a quad, but the Cavs were bad defensively all game. The Knicks shot 56% from the field, which is in part a result of variance, but is also a result of wide open layups at the basket and open three point shots. When young players are focused on asserting themselves as viable players, they are generally trying to find themselves offensively. Defense can be figured out later. This was a game where we saw positive outcomes offensively, and you’ll take that. On top of shooting a high percentage, the Knicks turned the ball over just 12 times. They really weren’t bothered at all.
So what does this mean?
Each player is going to be able to take some positives from their own games, but the morale around the team will be interesting to monitor. They keep losing, and it’s even harder in a way when the players can tell themselves that they personally are playing okay. There’s a risk guys start looking out for their own numbers, but again, this was a game where the team moved the ball pretty well. But then you look up and see the team has lost 11 of 12 games. Do they blame the coach? Do they look in the mirror defensively? We’ll see.