The Cleveland Cavaliers complete the two-game sweep in North Carolina as they defeat the Charlotte Hornets 120-104. The Cavs finish their four game road trip with three wins.
Cedi Osman, back from the doghouse
Osman provided a much needed spark in the second quarter when it seemed like Charlotte was going to make this a competitive game. He opened his scoring by banking in a three he certainly didn’t call glass on. That fluke shot seemed to be all he needed to get him going.
Osman poured in 12 points in the second quarter when the Cavs first began to assert their dominance. He didn’t stop there as he finished with 24 points on 8-13 shooting which included going 6-10 from deep.
Cedi is on pic.twitter.com/dTUyZryO8N— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) March 15, 2023
This game was a perfect example of what the best version of Osman provides. His off-ball activity has a way of opening up a half-court offense that can get stalled out in a way that no other role player can. This is only amplified when his outside shot is going in like it was tonight.
The Cavs need someone on the bench who can provide this type of scoring and shooting. Osman doesn’t play like this as often as J.B. Bickerstaff would like, but he is one of the few bench players who has the ability to elevate the entire offense.
Protecting the ball matters
The best way to supplement an offense that has trouble scoring without their best player is to protect the ball and force turnovers on the other end. The Cavs did exactly that as they won the turnover battle 19-8 leading to a 35-5 advantage in points off of turnovers.
This is why this game turned into the lopsided blowout it did.
Strong outings from Darius Garland and Caris LeVert helped
This won’t look like a dominate game on the stat sheet for Darius Garland as he finished the night with 19 points on 7-15 shooting with 7 assists. But, the line doesn’t tell the whole story. Garland was in complete control of this game and the offense in the 28 minutes he played. He was able to get wherever he wanted and carried the Cavs through rough stretches in the first quarter when it appeared this could be a 48 minute contest instead of the 32 minute one it turned into.
Caris LeVert had a solid performance after being inserted into the starting lineup once again due to injury. The outside shot was falling for him as he was able to connect on 4 of his 5 attempts from beyond the arc. More importantly, he did a great job of running the offense and setting up teammates as he concluded the evening with 7 assists.
The Cavs needed their two best ballhandlers to step up with Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen out of the lineup. Garland and LeVert more than did that tonight.
Evan Mobley is continuing to show flashes in the short midrange
The second-year big continues to flash high-level offensive traits. Mobley did most of his damage in the short midrange. His incredible touch allowed him to finish 6 of his 9 shots between the restricted area and the free-throw line.
The short midrange turnarounds, jumpers and hook shots have been a staple of Mobley’s game since coming into the league. This season, 34.2% of his shots have come from between the restricted area and free throw line. Despite the great touch that he shows when he’s able to rise up from those spots, he came into tonight’s game converting only 38.9% of those shots which puts him in the 34th percentile.
Being knocked off balance while setting up or in the process of setting up these shots are a big reason why the percentage doesn’t match touch. Nick Richards and Kai Jones aren’t physically imposing bigs. They weren’t able to push Mobley off his spots tonight which allowed him to have the efficient scoring night he did from the short midrange.
Mobley’s incredible defense and ability to finish at the rim make him such an impactful player even at his age. Adding strength so that he can stay on balance and finish in the short midrange and the in-between areas like he did tonight is how he will become an offensive superstar. This was a template for what the best version of Mobley looks like.
Up next: The Cavs will have arguably their biggest regular season game on Wednesday night in Cleveland as they take on the Philadelphia 76ers. The winner of that game will own the tiebreaker in the standings. Tip-off is at 7:30 p.m.