The Cavaliers’ late game offense remains atrocious.
The Cavs have blown three straight fourth quarters leads after once again failing to execute decent half court offense down the stretch. The Cavs found themselves up 95-87 after a Jarrett Allen dunk with 4:38 left. That would be the team’s last field goal for the evening.
Cleveland has done a poor job of running half court offense in crunch time this roadtrip. The Cavs have been going into what feels like a prevent offense when they have the lead and aren’t getting into their sets until the shot close is under ten. By that point, it’s often too late to get the bigs involved in a meaningful way which often leads to a contested off-the-dribble jumper by one of Donovan Mitchell or Darius Garland. Once they lose the lead the offense is too out of sorts to mount any comeback.
Mitchell and Garland’s lack of chemistry at this time leads to this. The duo has shown flashes of good play against the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers, but haven’t provided consistent production together. This isn’t unexpected as there usually is a learning curve when you first throw high usage guards together. But, the unfamiliarity becomes more glaring in crunch time when it matters most. This is something J.B. Bickerstaff and company will need to iron out as the current late game offensive execution is unacceptable for a team this talented with this many weapons.
Darius Garland’s struggles continue
Garland’s poor play is one of the reasons the Cavs struggled down the stretch. He finished with 15 points on 5 of 19 shooting and contributed 2 points on 1 of 6 shooting in the final frame.
Garland hasn’t been himself this roadtrip (which may be attributed to sickness) as he’s now put together three straight abysmal fourth quarters. The Cavs simply need more out of him when games become half court affairs down the stretch.
Evan Mobley used his size to his advantage.
It wasn’t all bad as the Cavs played 45 minutes of great basketball. Mobley was a big part of that as he contributed 20 points on 8 of 15 shooting with 12 boards including 8 offensive rebounds while providing the disruptive defense we’ve come to expect. The second year forward did a great job of taking advantage of the Warriors’ lack of height inside by punishing mismatches in the post all night like he did to Donte DiVincenzo in the play below.
Slightly under the radar, Kevin Love has been a fantastic playmaker this season pic.twitter.com/KFwbhFpXTn— Tony Pesta (@Tony_Pesta) November 12, 2022
Mobley has simplified his shot profile so far this season as he’s done a majority of his damage this season in the paint. This was no exception as only one of his eight makes came outside the restricted area.
The Cavs belong on the court with the Warriors.
Cleveland has more than held their own in their three games against last year’s Finals opponents. They weren’t able to pull out the win in San Francisco due to poor late game execution, but there was no point in the game where you felt that this was a fluke or that the Cavs didn’t belong in the same class as Golden State.
The Cavs are a good team who have the statistical profile of a great team as they came into Friday’s contest with the second best net rating while having the third best offense and defense. They just haven’t been able to do enough to pull out these wins down the stretch. Being able to get over the hump in these close games will determine how far they go in the playoffs. That said, they certainly belong in the same class as the upper echelon of the league despite having limited time together.
Donovan Mitchell continues to look like an MVP on and off the court.
Mitchell going out of his way to get a young fan’s Mobley jersey autographed is one of the best things to come out of this game. A small gesture like this is something that kid will never forget. These moments are why we love sports.
On the court, Mitchell once again put on a show in a marquee game which is becoming a somewhat reoccurring theme. He was easily the second best player all night behind only Stephen Curry who once again hung 40 points on the Cavs.
The Cavs have been able to count on Mitchell in the biggest games as evidenced by his box scores:
- Toronto Raptors (10/19/22) - 31 points (12 of 21 shooting), 9 assists and 2 rebounds.
- Boston Celtics (10/26/22) - 41 points (15 of 25 shooting), 3 assists and 4 rebounds
- Boston Celtics (11/2/22) - 25 points (11 of 27 shooting), 6 assists and 4 rebounds
- Los Angeles Lakers (11/7/22) - 33 points (10 of 17 shooting), 2 assists and 5 rebounds
- Golden State Warriors (11/9/22) - 29 points (10 of 20 shooting), 9 assists and 10 rebounds
The Cavs have a bonafide scorer who can lead the offense game in and game out. Pairing him with this front court should give the Cavs a chance to compete every game.