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Watching the Market: Portland Trail Blazers vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavaliers lost a very winnable game against Portland while continuing to struggle in games in which they carried a fourth-quarter lead. 

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Stock Up:

Evan Mobley continuing to improve

Since the questions about Mobley’s offensive improvements got louder earlier in the season, the third-year big man from USC has put his foot on the gas. This season, Mobley is averaging career-high numbers in points, field goal percentage, effective field goal percentage, rebounds, blocks and steals per 48 minutes.

While he doesn’t have the eye-popping stat-scoring nights, being on a team with Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland shouldn’t necessarily need him to feel impactful offensively. Defensively, it feels like the same old story from the past two seasons, still a game-breaking versatile weapon that the Cavaliers continue to deploy in new and fun ways depending on the matchup presented.

Stock Down:

Are the Cavs capable of consistency?

The Cavaliers team all season, has struggled to put a string of wins together and show complete performances in that stretch as well. Last night against the Blazers was no different. The Cavalier in recent weeks has put together impressive wins against the Sixers, Nuggets, and Hawks. For the most part, it felt as if this team was turning a corner. As Michael Scott said, “Oh how the turn tables…”. The Cavaliers for what feels like the umpteenth time in the season have dropped the ball and looked lost, not composed, and sloppy in a very winnable game.

The team knows they are underperforming mightily compared to expectation, Per Cleveland.com, Darius Garland when asked about the team and their ability to gain momentum and consistency responded the team needs to “Step on people’s necks early. Keep our foot on their neck throughout the entire 48 minutes of the game and not let up”.

It feels too often that the team needs the stars to align and everyone has to be on their A-game to win games this season. That is not a recipe for regular-season basketball, never mind playoff basketball. If this team can’t figure out what they are and how to become more cohesive for 48 minutes of a game, then we have bigger problems than hoping the Cavaliers look competent for winnable games.

Darius Garland is starting to become a major concern

I was one of the first people jumping to give Garland a pass when his turnover numbers were up. It was fair at the time to point out that it could have just been his return from injury and getting his feet under him. Well, that argument has lost whatever validity it had as we are 19 games into the season and the turnovers are showing up constantly. Garland is currently second in turnovers a game and frankly, when you consider he has those numbers while ranking 40th in usage, it’s inexcusable. Garland at times, looks very lackadaisical, almost like there is no thought or care into the looks he attempts to generate.

Against Portland, it was more of the same story on a different day. Garland rather than as he says “put the foot on the throat”, which for Darius would be to be an aggressive shooter as we saw two nights ago against the Hawks, decides to make aggressive passes dribble past traps, and generate many avoidable turnovers.

For the Cavaliers to reach the heights that many of us think they can, they need to stop taking two steps forward and one step back. Every step back for this team feels momentous due to them losing in fashions where it feels as if they beat themselves more often than the opponent outplaying them or having an insane offensive night. The team seems to grasp that this is becoming their identity so one would hope this is the wakeup call. However, it feels like we have had too many games this early on in the season to where you wonder if this is the Cavaliers this season, not the one we expected in the preseason.