Craig Porter Jr.! Again!
This guy is just for real. He’s driving at Joel Embiid. He’s getting minutes in tight games against a very good team. What Porter Jr. has done in his minutes is give the Cavs needed backup guard play. He should be the team’s top option when Ty Jerome gets back from his ankle inury. We’ve seen enough.
The Cleveland Cavaliers as a basketball team
Tuesday’s win marked four win in a row for Cleveland. It was a win against a team that has been one of the best teams in the league all year. And it was a win where Donovan Mitchell, among many others, was out. The Cavs won this game in imperfect circumstances. That says something.
The defense, in particular, was as good as its been the entire year. The Cavs held the 76ers to an offense rating of 110.2 — over 10 points less than the 76ers’ season number and four points below league average. To do that without a great option on Tyrese Maxey and to contest shots over the floor the way they did is as impressive as this group has been all year.
And don’t look now, but Cleveland’s defense is back in the top-10 after a slow start to the year and the team as a whole is right around the top-10 in net rating over the last two weeks. It feels like the Cavs are back and still have room to grow.
NBA Cup hopes
Despite the win, the Cavs’ NBA Cup hopes are done with the Indiana Pacers having clinched Group A with their wild 157-152 win over the Atlanta Hawks.
Ultimately, the Cavs were facing an uphill battle in this regard from the moment they lost to the Pacers in the first group game for both teams. They did what they had to do to keep hopes alive with wins over the Pistons and 76ers, but it’s not enough.
Cleveland is losing something here. This is a group that could have benefited from games in Las Vegas next month with real stakes. Does that matter as much as the playoffs? No. But it’s something.
The NBA Cup has also been fun. It’s added stakes to what, even for basketball junkies, can feel like a slog to the start of the season. To not have the Cavs in it just takes away from it in some way.