Thursday night was a comeback win for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Behind a game-winner from Isaac Okoro, the Cavs picked up a second win in three days over Brooklyn.
Isaac Okoro steps up
This is the kind of shot — a game-winning three-pointer taken comfortably — that feels big for Okoro.
ISAAC OKORO FOR THE WIN— NBA (@NBA) March 24, 2023
WHAT A FINISH. pic.twitter.com/21XgHBFyRB
This final play is pure chaos. Mitchell misses the free throw, misses the follow-up, Caris LeVert gets the rebound and finds Okoro in the corner. All he is time to do is shoot, so he does. And it’s nothing but net. This feels like the kind of play, the kind of moment, that bodes well for Okoro exceeding under pressure in the playoffs.
The Cavs did not look sharp
A part of this game the Cavs definitely should be frustrated by: A lack of overall sharpness and quality. For much of the game, they didn’t feel like they had urgency.
This happens sometimes. It’s an 82-game season. This game was on the road. Cleveland is largely locked into its playoff seed. This is not a result that feels like it means anything or says something about the Cavs’ quality.
But the Cavs really just didn’t show up to this game. The defense was lacking — it got stretched on the back end of plays over and over. The Nets were the one dictating the flow of the game, pushing the pace and turning the game into more of a shootout. That’s the opposite of how the Cavs play when they’ve been at their best.
Darius Garland was the Cavs player who looked the most off. It wasn’t so much that the Nets did anything to bother him — although their length probably played a factor. Garland finished with 13 points on 4-16 shooting to go with 8 assists and 3 turnovers.
Garland makes the Cavs work. He is the one often pulling all of the strings, so him having an off night feels right on a night where Cleveland wasn’t sharp.
Evan Mobley, always going
One of Evan Mobley’s defining characteristics is his motor. That shows up in effort most notably — he’s never not going to give max effort on a play. But it also shows up when the rest of the team isn’t playing well.
Mobley doesn’t seem to know how to take plays off. On both ends in this game, Mobley ended up at the center what worked for the Cavs. In the second quarter, he got whatever he wanted at the rim en route to 10 points. For the game, he finished with 26 points, 16 rebounds and 4 blocks in 40 minutes.
At times, the Cavs turned offense over to Mobley. It was sometimes just a post-up or a quick action. He didn’t always succeed either — there were a few awkward looking shot attempts that are a reminder that he’s not a finished product. But these are important reps.
Evan Mobley cuts the Nets lead to 6!#LetEmKnow pic.twitter.com/aboccDkXzB— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) March 24, 2023
With the Cavs’ win and the New York Knicks’ loss to the Orlando Magic, Cleveland is now five games up on New York. Barring something crazy, the Cavs will be the fourth seed and have home court advantage in the first round.
The Knicks are still the Cavs’ likeliest opponent. But 5-7 is a jumbled mess. New York is 1.5 games up on the Miami Heat and two games up on the Nets. So while Cleveland knows where it is, there’s still something to be figured out below them.
Up next: The Cavs are off until Sunday when they host the Houston Rockets. Tipoff is at 6 p.m.