In their best performance of the season, the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors 115-104 on Sunday in Cleveland. It’s the Cavaliers’ first win over the Warriors since the 2017 NBA Finals and the first regular season win since Christmas Day in 2016.
Darius Garland was aggressive on Sunday, scoring 24 points to go with 7 assists in 30 minutes. He was only 6-17 from the field, but he was 12-13 from the line. Donvoan Mitchell led the Cavs with 31 points, while Max Strus added 15, Evan Mobley had 13 to go with 16 rebounds and Jarrett Allen had 12 points.
Well, that happened: Pace
Look at the shot clock when Mitchell shoots here. It tells a story.
This — and so many other plays from this game — are indicative of a Cavs team that is different from last year. Instead of meandering and getting into a set after 10 seconds has ticked off of the shot clock, the Cavs are getting into sets quicker. Their movements are more intentional, more direct — they don’t let the defense get set at all. Offense is easier when it’s played like this.
This also unlocks the best version of Garland. His basketball superpower is decision making — rarely does he make a decision where it doesn’t feel like the right one. Even at a higher tempo, that remains true. Get Garland going at this pace, against a defense that isn’t set, and he’s going to rack up the assists.
Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said postgame that they don’t want to be a seven seconds or less team, but they want to be aggressive. Sunday is an example of the positives that style can yield.
The Big Picture
This, while not a perfect Garland scoring night from the field or a particularly dynamic Evan Mobley offensive game. But the Cavaliers beat a really good Warriors team and looked as good as they’ve looked all season. The scoring was there. The defense, led by Mobley and Jarrett Allen, was there. They scrapped for loose balls and made the big plays when they needed to.
For Cleveland, this is the kind of win that can help settle things down a bit. It’s been a funky start to the season with injuries and a lack of real cohesion. But with a West Coast road coming, and the team largely over its wave of injuries, maybe things are getting back to normal.