Allen the Linchpin
As injuries continue to mount, J.B. Bickerstaff was forced to trot out yet another starting five which this evening included a very unfocused and disengaged Garland, Mitchell, Okoro, Wade and Mobley. The Cavs struggled to find their flow in the first half playing with uncomfortable hesitation and fatigue that often arrives with the injury bug. It was another night of feeling like much of Cleveland Cavaliers winning basketball runs on Jarrett Allen, who missed his second straight game after sustaining a nasty, free-falling hip check against the hardwood on Thanksgiving Eve. Taking a comfortable double-double with him to the bench, Allen’s absence provided a glaring disadvantage this evening.
(Not) Rolling in the Deep
Much like their match-up during the first game of the season, Toronto came into tonight’s game relying on physicality and strength (wink-wink). As the Cavs struggled early finding rhythm, Donovan Mitchell was largely absent on offense north of the border this evening. Tonight, we saw a pass-first Mitchell working to get teammates like Dean Wade involved, who unfortunately forgot to pack his three-ball for the trip, and finished just 2-6 from deep and 3-10 overall. It was one of the first times we’ve seen such passive, un-SPIDA-like-conduct from the highly-praised two-guard who scored only 8 points with 2 assists tonight. All that said, the Cavs simply won’t win shooting just *GASP!* 18% from deep.
The Maturation of Mobley
Aside from taking and missing, *checks notes* FOUR threes, Evan Mobley is working to find his confidence as his powerful 6’11’’ body glides down the floor. Tonight, Mobley was effective around the rim pulling down a team high 15 rebounds and chipping in 18 points in the loss. Battling hard down low against Pascal Siakam, Mobley held his own, yet still hesitated at times on offense. The Cavs will need more inspired play from Mobley who will have to hold down the block in Allen’s absence.
Up next: Cavs head back home to round off the month of November to take on the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. Tipoff at 7 p.m.