The Cleveland Cavaliers were without the services of leading scorers Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. That didn’t matter as Cleveland held the Detroit Pistons to a 1990s era score befitting their retro jerseys.
The offense, outside of the bigs, was disjointed.
The offense, unsurprisingly, looked out of sync without the services of their lead playmakers. Raul Neto and Caris LeVert did a sufficient job of feeding the big men, but weren’t able to provide the perimeter scoring punch this team typically has.
LeVert was pressing in trying to create for himself. He struggled to generate any scoring of his own off-the-dribble as he repeatedly failed to convert looks at the rim as he was 5-10 inside the restricted area. On the night, LeVert contributed 15 points on 5-16 shooting with 5 assists.
Isaac Okoro has looked good recently alongside the starting lineup. He had another solid night as he was disruptive on the defensive end and decisive offensively which resulted in 5 assists. Most of those assists came from dribble drives on the baseline where the weakside corner shifted over to provide additional help at the rim which was a nice development.
However, a game like today’s for Okoro was a good reminder of how limited his offensive game currently is. For better or worse, the coaching staff never allowed him veer much outside of his typical box tonight.
Cedi Osman had a difficult time finding his shot. He was out-of-control at times with the ball in his hands and couldn’t find the range from distance as he provided 9 points on 3-13 shooting.
On top of that, the Cavs really struggled to connect from distance as they hit just 6 of their 25 threes on the evening.
Despite all of those struggles, they still finished with an above average 117.1 offensive rating. That falls squarely on the shoulders of the outstanding play of their bigs.
The Cavs controlled the offensive glass.
The recipe for winning without their lead playmakers was controlling the paint on both ends. That’s exactly what they did.
Cleveland, and more specifically Jarrett Allen, couldn’t be stopped on the offensive glass. The Cavs gathered 43.9% (99th percentile) of their misses resulting in 11 offensive rebounds. This led to 16 second-chance points. Allen accounted for 7 of those 11 offensive boards.
The Cavs aren’t a team that uses their height much on the offensive glass. The bigs typically don’t linger in the paint after the shot goes up so that they can defend in transition. As a result, they’re 17th in the league in offensive rebound percentage at 26.4%.
On a night the Cavs struggled to get anything going from the field, they needed the extra boost offensive rebounds can provides.
Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley controlled the game on both ends.
Allen and Mobley continued their string of good play. Allen was the best player on the floor this evening. He led the Cavs with 20 points and 14 rebounds on 9-13 shooting. He also converted 6 of his 7 attempts in the restricted area.
LOOK OUT! COMING THROUGH! pic.twitter.com/yBA2cpC1t2— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) February 9, 2023
Mobley’s ability to relocate off ball once again allowed him to have a strong offensive outing. He contributed 19 points on 7-14 shooting with 8rebounds and 3 helpers.
As good of their offensive game was, their ability to control the paint on the other end was more impressive. The duo stifled the Pistons offense as they were held to a 92.4 offensive rating in the contest which is in the 3rd percentile of single-game offensive ratings this season. This was largely due to holding the Pistons to just 50% at the rim which is in the 5th percentile for offenses. This, combined with a poor outside shooting night (8-32 from three), allowed the Cavs to get the double-digit win even though the overall offense left much to be desired.
Today was a game the Cavs needed to win ugly. The big men came through and are largely the reason why the Cavs won the battle in the paint 70-32.
Kevin Love still couldn’t get into the game.
Love has been taken out of the rotation as he hasn’t played any of the games this week since returning from injury. It was initially speculated that his minutes would depend on the matchup, but that clearly doesn’t seem to be the case.
The veteran big couldn’t find the floor in a night the Cavs desperately needed someone to provide secondary playmaking and shooting in the half court. If he was ever going to play, this was the game for him to do so.
Love has been bad since his initial thumb injury on November 18. Since that date, he’s averaging just 6.8 points on .364/.308/.926. It made complete sense to drop him out of the rotation for the time being. But if you were ever going to give him a chance to earn that spot back, this seemed to be the perfect opportunity to do so.
Up next: The Cavs will be back in action as they take on the New Orleans Pelicans Friday night in front of a national-TV audience. Tip-off is at 10 p.m.