The Cleveland Cavaliers feel the sting of defeat for the first time this season, losing their home opener 105-108 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Let’s dive into what happened.
Donovan Mitchell supplied his first 40+ point game of the season, scoring 43 points while racking up 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals. Mitchell shot 15-27 from the floor and 4-11 from deep in a valiant losing effort.
Mitchell was especially shifty in the open floor, dancing his way around OKC defenders for nifty finishes in the paint. His two-way play has been strong to start the season, recording 27 points and 4 steals in his previous game. Do not take this superstar talent for granted.
From the Thunder’s perspective, it was Shai Gilgeous-Alexandar and Lu Dort who led the charge offensively. The two combined for 59 points on a lights-out 24-for-39 shooting clip.
Rookie Chet Holmgren also made his impact felt. Both on Isaac Okoro’s head (more on that later) and on the defensive end. Holmgren tallied up six blocks in his first game against the Cavs, making a tough shooting night all the more difficult for Cleveland.
Coming up Short: No DG, No PG
The Cavaliers were without Darius Garland in this game, who is sidelined with a hamstring injury. Cleveland’s offense looked rough in his absence.
Things quickly dissolved into the Donovan Mitchell show, who carried the burden of creating something out of nothing on most possessions. The Cavs scored 95 points with Mitchell on the floor versus a measly 10 points in the six minutes he was on the bench.
Cleveland shot just 12-45 (29%) from downtown. A stark contrast from their 17-43 (39%) game against the Brooklyn Nets. Everyone wanted Cleveland to shoot more three-pointers this season. And, well, this is the variance that comes with that playstyle. The Cavaliers only attempted 43+ three-pointers a total of three times last season — they’ve done it in both of their games to start this one.
Still, the Cavs led this match by 10 points with just two minutes to go. It was a drastic swing in Oklahoma City’s favor when Max Strus blanked a cutting layup and Donovan Mitchell turned it over while driving into traffic — with the Thunder capitalizing on each stop with a three-point make to narrow the gap.
This was a bitter collapse to start the season in front of their home crowd for the Cavaliers. Yet, scoring the ball might have been a little easier had their All-Star point guard been available to steer the wheel.
Well, that happened…
In a play that would have made Darius Garland proud, Isaac Okoro was nailed in the head not once – but twice – in the same possession. In classic Cavalier fashion, Okoro was rewarded with a personal foul for being OKC’s crash dummy.
Yes, you read that correctly, Okoro was whistled for the foul on this play.
Somehow, someway, Okoro returned to the floor later in the second half. He started the game with Cleveland’s first nine points but cooled off dramatically, finishing with 10 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals.
It has been an overall strong start to the season for Okoro. Hopefully, he will be healthy and available Saturday night versus Indiana.
The Big Picture
Take a deep breath.
It’s only the second game of an 82 game season and the Cavs just stole a game on the road from Brooklyn. So, fair is fair. It’s a long season ahead of them and this team is poised for regular season success.
Ahead on the schedule is another challenge against the Indiana Pacers. Waiting on the horizon are back-to-back games versus the New York Knicks. Buckle up Cavs fans, this stretch is going to be eventful.