It was another frustrating loss for the Cleveland Cavaliers, once again to the Boston Celtics, a game which was close at times but not close enough. Here are some final thoughts as the Cavs record falls to 13-12.
Despite remaining relatively healthy, the Cavs continue to look extremely disjointed and out of sync. While Donovan Mitchell had 31 points (on 24 shots), eight rebounds, and six assists, his stats all felt empty calories. It was as if the work he was doing was not because of his teammates connecting the lines of the offense, it was because he made things happen himself. Darius Garland went back to being passive, missing shots and passing up others that he should normally be taking without hesitation. The backcourt being out of whack makes the Cavs' margin for error razor-thin against anyone, let alone against Boston. Max Strus, who spoke up about taking more shots, only attempted five of them. T
here is a lot to unpack with the offense, but it’s all very strange. Caris LeVert understood the shooting assignment and scored 26, but it again seemed like it was isolated. He can get his shot, which is good, but he is not a connector to the rest of the offense.
Once again, not having Evan Mobley proved to be a big problem both on the glass and defensively. The Cavs were not able to get into their high gear on defense, losing too much rim protection and perimeter flexibility. Cleveland lost the rebounding battle and allowed 13 offensive boards.
Going back to some of the offensive woes, Mobley plays a part on that end as well. He is a strong passer and can operate as such out of the elbow in some sets. With his size and skill set, he can put some pressure on the rim as well, opening things up for shooters. But By inserting Dean Wade in the starting lineup instead, that goes away. Wade is sticking behind the three-point line and is not much of a post player, meaning if he is not hitting shots he is not all that useful. Mobley has other utility on the offensive end.
It is never fun to lose games, especially to teams that the Cavs should have been competing against in terms of playoff seeding. The reality is, though, that the Boston Celtics are a much more connected and cohesive team. They have ample defenders all over the place, strong connecting playmakers, and a go-to scorer in Jayson Tatum to be the “get a bucket” guy. The Cavs are not a connected and cohesive unit at the moment, but getting Mobley back would go a long way in helping get to that point.
Next up:The Cavs will return home on Saturday to face the Atlanta Hawks at Rocket Mortage Fieldhouse. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m. on Bally Sports and NBA TV.