After a long road trip, the Cleveland Cavaliers opened up a three-game homestand against the Memphis Grizzlies in their musically inspired City Edition jerseys. With the Memphis Grizzlies as their opponent, the Cavs were fittingly playing homage to blues music - which originated in the Deep South in the 1860s and in Memphis around 1903.
It’s also fitting since the Cavs were feeling blue as Collin Sexton was a last-minute scratch due to his nagging ankle injury. Without Sexton, Damyean Dotson once again drew the start for Cleveland and was unable to replicate his career-best performance against Milwaukee - but still finished the night with a respectable 14 points, 6 assists and a killer putback off an offensive board.
Dotson, along with the rest of Cleveland’s starters, also scored double digits and had a balanced, albeit ugly, offensive showing against an equally gritty Grizzlies squad. Clevelnad rookie Isaac Okoro was without a doubt the team’s MVP for tonight’s game - finishing with 12 points, 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and led Cleveland in minutes. Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff has come to trust Okoro, and the rookie continues to show why he’s earned said trust. Larry Nance Jr. also deserved serious consideration for MVP as well - finishing the night with 13 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals. Shoutout to Andre Drummond as well - as he had his his eleventh consecutive double-double this season, breaking his franchise record again. But, despite the solid individual efforts this was still an ugly game offensively for Cleveland overall.
Granted, this ugly offense won’t last for much longer as the Cavs have two days off after tomorrow night’s tilt with the Utah Jazz. Sexton should hopefully be back by then and Darius Garland and Dylan Windler should soon follow. Adding those three back to the rotation should make Cleveland even more respectable offensively but there’s still some basketball to played until that happens. Thankfully, the Cavs continuing to be an elite defensive team is still a thing as Cleveland had 11 steals and 7 blocked shots on the night against Memphis. Having that defensive tenacity in their back pocket is going to keep Cleveland in most games, even if they seem overwhelmed and outmatched offensively.
As impressive as Cleveland looked individually offensively and as a team defensively, they were still unable to hang with Memphis in the end. Brandon Clarke, Jonas Valanciunas, Dillon Brooks, and Tyus Jones combined for 61 of the Grizzlies’ 101 points. Memphis also closed the game down the stretch on a solid run and took advantage of some of Cleveland’s miscues as well. But, there’s no rest for the weary as the Cavs look to bounce back tomorrow against the Utah Jazz.
Up next: The Cavs are back at it at home again tomorrow against the Utah Jazz. Tipoff is at 7:30 PM EST.