This was an encouraging but partially frustrating week for the Cavs. Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro set personal highs for points per game which was encouraging to see. So were the blowout wins over the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder. However, a humiliating loss to the shorthanded Toronto Raptors was a reminder that this team still has a ways to go.
Here’s what we learned from this up and down week.
Collin Sexton remains efficient despite going through a shooting slump.
Sexton promised to take more threes at the end of February. While he’s lived up to the promise, he hasn’t gotten the results he was expecting.
Sexton is shooting 31.1% from deep on 1.6 makes and 5.2 attempts per game in the 19 games since promising to take more threes. His outside shooting is only getting worse as he’s shooting just 17.6% from distance in the five games he’s played this month. His three-point percentage has slowly declined every month since December.
Surprisingly, and somewhat encouragingly, his true shooting percentage hasn’t dipped during the slump. Sexton has posted a 57.3 true shooting percentage since his slump started. He has also registered a 61.8 true shooting percentage in April.
The steady efficiency is mostly due to Sexton’s ability to get to the line. He’s attempting 6.5 free throws per game in that 19-game span and is attempting 8.0 per game this month. This, combined with an increased percentage at the rim and in the midrange, is why his efficiency has increased during this cold spell from deep.
I don’t believe Sexton’s cold shooting is a cause from concern. While he may not be as good of a three-point shooter as he showed at the beginning of the year (he was shooting 40% from deep prior to the all-star break), he isn’t as bad as he’s been as of late either.
Being able to score inside and get to the line were Sexton’s strengths coming into the league. Seeing him having success by doing that in the NBA is encouraging. He will be a force to be reckoned with if he can keep up his efficient scoring inside while getting his outside shot back to what we saw at the beginning of the season.
Kevin Love is what this offense needs.
The Cavs had the worst offense in the league before Love’s return and it wasn’t particularly close. In the six games since his return, the Cavs have posted a 112.2 offensive rating which is good for 16th in the league during that stretch. The Cavs have a 115.2 net rating and a 2.0 net rating when Love is on the floor and a 108.9 offensive rating and -4.2 net rating with him off in the last six games.
The offense’s turnaround speaks to Love’s skill, but almost more so to his fit alongside Garland, Sexton, and Okoro. Love’s ability to stretch the floor has brought out the best version of these three young players. All three are averaging over their season average in points while posting a true shooting percentage above 60% in the last six games they’ve played with Love. I don’t believe that’s a coincidence.
We’ve seen the best version of Darius Garland looks like.
Garland might’ve put together his best offensive week of his NBA career. The second-year guard averaged 25.7 points and 6.7 assists while shooting 45.8% from deep on 8 attempts per game in the three games he played this week. This was bolstered by a 37-point outing in San Antonio.
Garland has looked great offensively at times this year, but he’s never quite put it all together. He’s shown a great ability to set up teammates by driving inside and has even shown increased ability to finish at the rim. However, this has come at the expense of three-point volume. Despite shooting 40.2% from distance on the season, 68.2% of his shots come from within the three-point arc which isn’t ideal for someone with his skillset.
It’s easy to attempt outside shots when they’re going in like they were in San Antonio. However, Garland needs to get to the point where he’s still comfortable taking outside shots even if they aren’t going in as consistently. His inside game becomes much more lethal when teams are forced to guard him tightly as soon as he crosses half court like they do when he’s attempting threes like he was this past week.
Delly’s still doing Delly things.
Matthew Dellavedova being back in the lineup has been the boost the Cavs needed. Delly continues to make sure his team wins the minutes he’s out there. The Cavs have outscored their opponent by an average of 2.8 points per game with Delly playing which is good for a 6.2 net rating.
The Cavs have an offensive rating of 112.4 with Delly on the floor despite him posting a hilariously bad 28.1 true shooting percentage during his first six games. His ability to get the Cavs into their offense, set up teammates, and not turn the ball over is why the offense has been solid with him on the floor. To that point, Dellavedova has a total of 32 assists and 4 turnovers (although you could argue every three he takes is a turnover, but that’s a little meanspirited) this season.
Delly had a rough season on the court last year and an even rougher last six months off. It’s great to see him back after what he’s been through. I’m not sure if he can keep up the most recent stretch of good play, especially the crazy assist to turnover ratio, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts.