After beating the Indiana Pacers on Sunday, the Cleveland Cavaliers took on the Washington Wizards in D.C. to compete the second night of a back-to-back. And for the second night in a row, the Cavs took care of business.
In a 114-91 win, the Cavs picked up a second straight double-digit win and a third straight overall. A balanced night from the starters led the way with all five starters finishing in double figures.
Cleveland, per Cleaning The Glass, finished Monday night’s game shooting 100% at the rim and 57.1% in the short mid-range. Basically, every time they wanted to get a look in the paint, they got a good one. The Wizards frontcourt of Daniel Gafford and Kristaps Porzingis offered no resistance to Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.
Just look at this roll from Allen as an example. He screens for Mitchell, who passes to Isaac Okoro on the wing. Allen simply moves into the paint where no one is there to stop him from crushing a dunk.
This was the recipe for Cleveland all night. The Cavs finished with 58 points in the paint vs. just 38 for the Wizards. This is what playing big in 2023 looks like when a team has two bigs who can finish like this. And it helps to play a team that seemingly has no interest at interior defense.
With the win, and the Brooklyn Nets’ loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cavs are back into the top-four of the Eastern Conference, sitting a half game up on the Nets and 1.5 back of the Philadelphia 76ers.
This isn’t a lock to hold, obviously — there is a lot of basketball back. But there’s an opportunity here for the Cavs with Kyrie Irving traded away from Brooklyn and Kevin Durant still not back from injury. (Plus, whatever is going on with Ben Simmons.) Cleveland’s pre-All-Star slate — home vs. Detroit, at New Orleans, home vs. Chicago, home vs. San Antonio, at Philadelphia — is very manageable. Building on this three-game winning streak could get the Cavs into a strong spot in the top four heading into the stretch fun.
Isaac Okoro, again looking alive
Twelve points on 4-6 shooting, 2-3 from three, 3 assists and 2 rebounds for Okoro against the Wizards. He looks settled into his role as the starting three, playing as the connective tissue who spaces the floor, plays defense and attacks closeouts.
Look at this guy. The defender closed towards him, he jab steps and creates space to get the shot off. This is massive, massive improvement for a player playing the best basketball of his career over the last month or so.
I USED TO PRAY FOR TIMES LIKE THIS pic.twitter.com/yxSrTHUrA8— Tony Pesta (@Tony_Pesta) February 7, 2023
He is Cleveland’s starting small forward now. That’s what this version of Okoro looks like.
Up next: The Cavs return home to host the Detroit Pistons on Thursday. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.