The Cleveland Cavaliers and New York Knicks might’ve set basketball back 30 years as this game featured the same number of three-pointers as travels. This led to 37 turnovers which was the same percentage both teams combined to shoot from the floor.
This was not basketball at its best.
Traveling is back with a vengeance.
This was a game only Rick Barry could love. The Cavs and Knicks were called for 14 traveling and carrying violations which is practically unheard of.
Tightening up traveling is something the league has needed to do for a while. It’s been refreshing to see a cleaner game for the most part this season. That said, this was a rough watch.
Second chance points were killer.
The Cavs’ defense has been good at limiting opponents to one shot. That wasn’t the case tonight as the Knicks were able to grab 14 offensive rebounds which led to 17 second chance points. You can’t lose like this on the margins when the offense is having a difficult time generating offense like it was in New York.
Donovan Mitchell’s homecoming didn’t live up to expectations.
Mitchell did his best to show his hometown team that they should’ve traded for him in their first meeting of the season. Mitchell put on a show in Cleveland as he put up 38 points and 12 assists in the win.
The homecoming didn’t go as planned as Mitchell struggled to establish any kind of offense in the first three quarters. His 10 fourth quarter points allowed the Cavs to make things interesting, but weren’t enough to put them over the edge. The New York native finished the night with 23 points on 8-22 shooting with 5 assists and 3 turnovers.
Donovan Mitchell on if there was any extra excitement or anticipation for him to play at MSG tonight after the on-again, off-again trade discussions with the Knicks this summer before he was traded to Cleveland: pic.twitter.com/PgSaeQGIY1— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) December 5, 2022
The Cavs are running out some rough offensive lineups.
Losing Dean Wade means that the front court is stretched a bit thinner than it already was. As a result, two-way big Mamadi Diakite has been forced to start his second game of the season. Although Diakite has shown to be a capable shooter at various points, he’s still someone defenses are more than fine with leaving open. As a result, the starting lineup of him, Evan Mobley and Lamar Stevens leaves the guards with little to no space.
The Cavs were able to make this lineup work against the Philadelphia 76ers last Wednesday. Darius Garland and Donovan Mitchell shot over the defense as they combined to can 8 of their 11 triples on the evening. The duo wasn’t able to replicate that shooting performance as they combined to go 5-18 from deep Sunday evening leaving that lineup unplayable.
Injuries aren’t ideal, but the current starting lineup forces the backcourt to be hitting their outside shots at a high clip to get by. When they aren’t, there aren’t many counters to get things going.
The halfcourt offense was putrid.
The Cavs’ inability to hit threes and their rough lineup combinations are partially to blame here. Cedi Osman, Kevin Love and Caris LeVert combined to go 3-11 from deep on top of a rough shooting night from the back court.
The Knicks clogged the paint whenever Garland or Mitchell had the ball which forced the Cavs’ non-shooting starters to beat them. This made it difficult to get to the paint or pressure the defense into fouls.
This resulted in J.B. Bickerstaff closing the game with Osman and Love in place of Stevens and Diakite. This helped the backcourt get going some in the fourth, but not being able to knock down threes still prevented them from cutting the deficit below five.
Overall the Cavs weren’t able to hit any of their jumpers while also not being able to get to the paint. Only 30% of their shot attempts came at the rim. On the season, they are now 3-6 in games 30% or less of their shots come at the rim.
This team is consistently generating looks at the rim when playing their best. Without Jarrett Allen to attack the rim, they need Garland and Mitchell to open up the offense with their shooting which they weren’t able to do.
Up next: LeBron James returns home Tuesday night alongside his red hot Los Angeles Lakers. LA has now won five of their last six games.