Isaac Okoro! Is Okoro still flawed? Absolutely. He airballed a three-pointer in this game after hesitating to take it at first. He passed up a few more open ones too. The best version of Okoro has to take those, make or miss.
But he’s also a useful player for this Cavs team. Defensively, he’s rock solid and tough as nails on the perimeter — a needed element for this group. He took a charge too. And on offense, Okoro attacked with pace and put pressure on the Pistons defense — something no one else was going that consistently. The final stat line — 9 points on 4-7 shooting, 1-3 from three, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 steals — is a mix of everything he does. And the Cavs need that.
Whatever you want to say about Okoro, this is true: He is as competitive and tough as anyone on the roster. When that guy is in the game, he competes. That can be a boost.
Cleveland’s halfcourt offense. It was uneven, but this came up as a good Cavs performance in the halfcourt with an offensive rating of 104.7 in the halfcourt. On a night where the Cavs’ overall wasn’t great (offensive rating of 111.7 overall, per Cleaning the Glass) that decided the game.
The Cavs themselves. This was a win the Cavs needed, but not an overly impressive one.
The win 100% matters more. After the Trail Blazers loss, getting a win against the Pistons was necessary. The fact that it wasn’t overwhelming, and that it took some resiliency and grit to beat a bad team, doesn’t take off too much shine.
But this is still clearly a Cavs team figuring themselves out and not close to the best version of themselves. This was a large uneven performance — just look at the different quarter scoring splits and how up and down it was. Detroit also hasn’t won a game since October. OCTOBER. For the Cavs to be the team they showed some real life against (helped somewhat by the return of Bojan Bogdanovic, who had 22 points off the bench) is troubling.
So the Cavs did get a needed win. As Darius Garland said postgame per cleveland.com, just keep winning. That matters most. But the way they win also matters. There’s still room to grow for Cleveland. And their level of play needs to rise if they want to do more than survive during upcoming games against the Magic, the Celtics and Heat.
Evan Mobley’s scoring. Six points on five shots for Mobley isn’t enough. And maybe his best offensive moment — spinning past Bogdanovic with a tight handle — ended up Mobley being blocked at the rim by Jalen Duren. A rough night at the office for Mobley.
A modern NBA offense. For this game, the Cavs did much of their work in the mid-range and didn’t get to the rim and didn’t take a lot of three-pointers. They won, so it’s fine. And the Pistons deserve some credit too. But this is not the way a modern NBA offense works.