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Takeaways from the Cleveland Cavaliers 87-83 Summer League win over the Chicago Bulls

The Cavs punch their ticket to the semi-finals thanks to 22 points from Craig Porter

2023 NBA Summer League - Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls Photo by Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers stayed perfect in Summer League with a somewhat ugly 87-83 win over the Chicago Bulls. The Cavs got out to a 14-point advantage midway through the second quarter before surrendering it at the close of the third. Chicago held the lead up until the final minute and a half when the Cavs regained the lead for good behind the strong play of Craig Porter Jr.

Craig Porter Jr. showed why the team already gave him a two-way deal

Things got dicey for the Cavs after Sharife Cooper left the second quarter with a groin injury. With Sam Merrill and Khalifa Diop already being held out, the Cavs were left with just two members of their original starting five available. These absences gave Porter an opportunity to show what he could do.

Porter’s feel for the game continues to jump off the screen. He has a knack for always being in the right place on either side of the court. This shows up clearly in the way he’s able to stuff the stat sheet as he led both teams in points (22), assists (six) and steals (three) while also contributing eight rebounds and a block.

Porter took over the game in the fourth when the team needed it most. He scored seven points inside the final three minutes including an and-one layup to give the Cavs a two-possession lead in the final minute.

Having a strong feel for the game allows someone to get the very most out of their skillset. It also isn’t a something that can easily be cultivated when it doesn’t exist. Porter has that feel. It’ll be interesting to see how the rest of his skills develop throughout the season with the Cleveland Charge.

Emoni Bates didn’t have his best stuff

It’s difficult not to make every game a referendum on the rookie. On Monday, Bates showed how skilled of a scorer he is when he nailed 5-8 threes. On Thursday, you could see part of the reason why he’s a work in progress.

This wasn’t a bad game from Bates. It wasn’t like his first Summer League outing where he took a shot seemingly every time the ball touched his hands. But it also wasn’t the best either. Bates mostly took shots in the rhythm of the offense, but reverted to what was familiar when the team’s offense stalled out. This resulted in four turnovers, no assists and a few ill advised contested jumpers.

Whether or not Bates’s shot is going in will largely shape the perception of whether or not he had a good game. On Monday they went in (7-11) and on Thursday they didn’t (5-15). The goal for this upcoming season will be getting away from having his shot determine that. This will only happen if he’s able to continue to find other ways to influence the outcome.

Solid contributions from the forwards

This wasn’t Isaiah Mobley’s best game as he went 5-15 from the floor. He still found ways to be helpful by collecting 12 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks. Mobley also knocked down a step-back three late with the team down five and was able to get to convert two at the line to give the team the lead.

Luke Travers had a respectable outing as he finished with eight points, nine rebounds and two steals. He also showed flashes of the kind of passer he can be. That said, there’s questions about what his role could be for an NBA team as he continues to get forgotten about in the half court offense.

Pete Nance showed why he’s intriguing at 6’10” as he finished with eight points and five rebounds. The seven fouls in 27 minutes showed why he’s still a project.

Up next: The win guarantees the Cavs a spot in the four-team single-elimination tournament. The semi-finals take place Sunday with the finals occurring the following day.