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Takeaways from the Cleveland Cavaliers 102-99 Summer League win over the Brooklyn Nets

Isaiah Mobley’s game winner secures a spot in the Summer League championship game.

2023 NBA Las Vegas Summer League Semifinals - Brooklyn Nets v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jeff Bottari/NBAE via Getty Images

The Cleveland Cavaliers advance to the Summer League championship as they defeat the Brooklyn Nets 102-99 in overtime. Isaiah Mobley hit a tough faceup hook shot to reach the target score.

Isaiah Mobley continues to impress

The elder Mobley has done everything he can to show that he deserves an NBA contract. Sunday afternoon was perhaps his most complete performance as he finished with 23 points on 9-15 shooting with seven rebounds, five assists, two blocks and a steal. He also delivered one of the best dunks of the summer.

Cleveland’s offense struggled in the halfcourt throughout with Sharife Cooper, the team’s starting point guard, being ruled out due to a groin injury. Mobley stepped up in his place as a playmaker and being the primary source of offense in the half court. He displayed excellent vision as he was able to find teammates from the elbow, in the short roll and pushing in transition leading to 5 assists.

Many of the ways that Mobley has been successful in Summer League and with the Cleveland Charge last season won’t directly translate to the next level. He won’t be the offensive hub or a post scorer like he was Sunday in the NBA. But the same skills he uses for both will translate even if it’s in a different form.

The next questions for Mobley is whether he’s able to hold his own as a rebounder, defend in space and whether his offense can scale down well. None of those can truly be answered this summer or in the G League. What can definitively be said is that he’s been this team’s best player and is the biggest reason they find themselves in the championship game.

Emoni Bates gives and takes away

With a five-lead with under two minutes, Bates helped off his man on the perimeter then fouled a three-point shot trying to recover leading to a four-point play. He unwisely fouled in the backcourt on the next defensive possession giving the Nets a chance to take the lead at the line. Both plays were inexcusable given the time and score.

Bates however responded by nailing a three on the other end to retake the lead. Brooklyn forced overtime, but Bates responded with four points in the extra frame to help seal the victory.

There isn’t a better way to sum up the Bates experience in Summer League so far. That late three, and the four total threes he made, show that he is an exceptionally gifted shooter with a quick release that doesn’t need much space to get shots off. It’s rare to find someone at 6’9” with that kind of shot. But those untimely fouls show that he’s a work in progress. Bates still needs to find other areas of the game to make a positive impact while not being a liability on the defensive end.

Bates remains effective on the offensive glass

Bates showed that he can contribute on the offensive glass. He tallied five offensive boards leading to two putbacks including one in overtime to help seal the victory.

There’s no reason to make too big of a deal out of the offensive rebounding alone. The rookie needs to continue finding ways to be a positive contributor, but this was a nice start. Bates ended the contest with 20 points on 8-13 shooting with seven boards, five fouls, a turnover and no assists.

Other notes

Sam Merrill had an outsized impact on the game relative to his stats. The outside shot wasn’t falling as he went 5-17 from the field and 4-13 from deep, but the gravity he provided in the halfcourt helped offset the team’s lack of dribble penetration without Cooper. This allowed him to pick up five assists while leading the team in plus/minus as a +11.

Luke Travers had arguably his best Summer League game. He filled up the stat sheet with 11 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, four blocks and a steal. Travers showed that he could survive as a small-ball four in this context which is something Cleveland desperately needed with Khalifa Diop not being with the team and Pete Nance struggling to finish at the rim and stay out of foul trouble.

Craig Porter Jr. had a tough time getting going as a scorer — 12 points on 4-12 shooting — but still had a solid outing as he compiled seven boards, seven assists, two blocks and one turnover.

Up next: The Cavs will take on the winner of the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets in the Summer League championship game on Monday night. Tip-off is 9 PM.