When the Cavs envisioned this season, it probably looked a lot like this.
No, Darius Garland didn’t play. Kevin Porter Jr. left early with a head injury, and Dylan Windler has missed the whole season. So maybe it didn’t fit the vision of their wildest dreams. But second year pro Collin Sexton is building something, and depending on when you want to start measuring the progress, it’s no longer a small sample.
That continued tonight, and he put together a career-high 41 point performance on 30 shots. He notched six assists and turned the ball over four times, numbers that are fine. He was in control for most of the night, and took few midrange jumpers. He’s getting more comfortable taking threes off the bounce, and he’s making reads on passes he wasn’t just a few months ago.
He’s playing really well, and doing things at his age that really only Kyrie Irving and LeBron James have done for the Cavs. Is he in that sphere of talent? Certainly not for LeBron, probably not for Kyrie, but that’s okay. He’s forcing the issue. His handle has tightened, and he’s finishing with both hands. He’s a fun player to watch right now. The Cavs front office may be relieved that he’s played at this level, but perhaps they’ve been confident all along.
It wasn’t enough for a short-handed Cavs team to beat a short-handed Celtics team, but that’s okay too.
The Boston Celtics, 112. The Cleveland Cavaliers, 106.
Larry Nance Jr. keeps playing well
Two of the first players Koby Altman invested in were Collin Sexton and Larry Nance Jr. They’ve both been sustaining good play. 19 points on 13 shots, 15 rebounds, four assists, and just two turnovers are fantastic numbers for Nance, and he’s looked like a good fit with Kevin Love. I’m not sure about the defense long term with those two, but hey. There’s a lot of angst about his contract, but I’m not sure I understand why. He’s a pretty helpful player at 23-25 minutes a game and he’s paid accordingly.
What’s the point of Andre Drummond?
Don’t get me wrong, the Cavs played a bunch of Dean Wade and Ante Zizic tonight, so it’s not like there wouldn’t be minutes for him. Tristan Thompson was also out, and isn’t under contract next season, so Drummond might end up getting those minutes. He’s been helpful for the Pistons at times. It’s unfair to knock him while he’s hurt but he feels like an afterthought at the moment. He hasn’t been great here when healthy, and the season is running out of time here for him to make a positive difference. We’ll see if he can win me over when he comes back.
It’s looking like the Cavs will be able to bring back Kevin Love
On the flipside, Kevin Love looks like he could come back next and maintain this level of play. Twenty-six points on 17 shots, 14 rebounds and five assists is fantastic, and it’s hard to feel like he’d be upset about that kind of role. This would be the third summer in a row the Cavs convince Love to hang around, that this time things would be better, but it would be the first time they have some positive play to show him. Sexton’s growth, the promise of Garland after a full summer, Porter Jr., plus a top-five pick might be appealing to him. Either way, it’s nice the team may not feel like they HAVE to trade him.